Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Second Time Around

The Da Vinci Code [the book] isn't as fun as Avatar [the movie] the second time around.


The first time I read The Da Vinci Code, I lapped it up like a dog starved of water for a week. I could not put it down because it was my first ever encounter with concept of the Sacred Feminine. Though it did not dent my faith in any way (who am I to say Kuya Jess had no right to sex?), the book did introduce the oh-so-real concept that, in tangent to His divinity, Christ was also very human.

Those made for a very fascinating read, not just to the youngling of 21 that I was, but also to my mom and dad. Soon after I was done, they "borrowed" my copy and lapped it up just as fast... if not faster.

Then, I lost my book. Someone borrowed it and "forgot" to give it back. I vowed never to lend out my collectibles ever again. So years and books sales and movie releases pass, and I haven't had the urge to buy myself another copy, 'til recently. I was scouring the shelves of a Book Sale branch for coffee table books to give as a gift for a wedding shower I was attending and I stumbled across this neat-o copy of The Da Vinci Code (and a neat-o copy of Angels & Demons too, but we're not talking about that...). Imagine my happiness: I was adding a classic, a must-have, nay a requirement to my collection, and I was getting it for less than a hundred bucks! I started my re-read that evening.

A few weeks later, and I'm still not done with the book! :((

No! I refuse to classify self as a loser, nor do I wish to classify book as mundane. I think I must simply accept the fact that Dan Brown's mystery-thriller loses its effectivity the 2nd time around. Reading The Da Vinci Code now is like reading a text book on the Holy Grail: semi-painful! Plus, the dialogue between Langdon and Teabing isn't nearly as offensive as Bartimaeus' footnotes.

Ergo, this second time around was a bit of a let-down. *shrug* What can a reader do but keep the plow on? And, yes I will still reread Angels & Demons after this... and likely The Lost Symbol, too. (Egads my eyes shall suffer the wrath of the computer monitor once again.)

But not all second-time-arounds are let-downs. Let us not fall prey to the mistake of generalization; as generalization leads to stereotypes, and stereotypes leads to ignorance, and ignorance leads to the dark side. (Don't believe me, ask Yoda.)

Take my second second-time-around: Catching Avatar on Star Movies last Sunday.

The first time I saw Avatar was in 3D, months after its initial release in cinemas, with three cousins, a brother and a mother. Yes, that'd be my younger brother and my only mother. Who else would they be?

Everyone was flocking to the movie houses to watch the "epic" film when it first came out in the Philippine cinema scene, therefore it was only reasonable for me to zag while everyone else zigged. Then again, apparently zagging is passed thru the blood because many of my immediate relatives also refused to get on the Avatar bandwagon. So when the hype died down, we made watching Avatar in 3D a family movie affair.

What didn't help with my viewing were the so-so reviews I was getting from all sides: "It's one giant Pocahontas story," "Yeah, the effects were nice," "Don't really get the name," "People died but no one cried." The bland critiques didn't make spending a thousand bucks to watch a movie in 3D any easier on the pocket (Abay ala nga namang ipagbayad ko ng ticket si Mama! Anong klaseng anak naman ako kung ginawa ko yon, noh?).

One could say I didn't really step in that theater with the right perspective. So I suppose it was only natural that when I stepped out, I wasn't raving about the entire film either.

Not to say I didn't enjoy the movie. It was nice. The reviews I got were all politically correct, though there was that one scary scene that no one cared to pre-warn me about. The one with the frikkin flyin' butiki! It made the entire 3D experience a nightmare (I yelped all by my lonesome self... I'm never watching another movie in 3D again).

Anyway, fast-forward to last week and Star Movies was airing trailers of their exclusive Asian premiere of Avatar. Strangely enough, I was (slightly) excited at the thought of possibly watching the movie again, and this time on the small screen so threat of flying butiki would be greatly diminished. I must say, Avatar the 2nd time around did not disappoint. I better appreciated James Cameron's ode to classic environmentalists like Tolkien, how he visually presented the probability that despite all the machines we put out and all the resources we destroy, Nature will always trump industry. Nature, the circle of life, Gaia, has been around for millennia; we are but ants she patiently allows to gnaw at her surface. The minute she wants to be rid of us, she simply has to shift her tectonic plates.

That insight is just one of the many I wasn't able to pick up in my first screening of Avatar. So I'm really glad I got this second time around. Actually, I don't think I'd even mind a third time.

Lesson learned: don't knock stuff off your peg just 'cause you've done them before. True, there will be those you'll wish you never revisited, but then there will be others that'll give up tidbits you missed in round one. Not everything in life should be done only once. Sometimes, you've got to give the 2nd time around a shot. :)

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