I love cheesy B movies. I always have and I always will. It’s because of this that I love the movies of The Asylum, their filmmakers are the new Roger Cormans. In this series, I will take a look at all of their so-called “mockbusters”, and compare them to their theatrical counterparts. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
The Da Vinci Treasure
Jumping on the Da Vinci Code bandwagon, the filmmakers behind The Da Vinci Treasure had the benefit of being able to read that book before starting work on their script. Not that this led them to make The Godfather or anything like that, but it let the screenwriters (all four of them!) fill The Da Vinci Treasure with the same pulpy catchiness that suckered in everyone’s mom in the middle of the last decade. And, more on this later but, it actually holds up pretty well next to Tom Hanks and his silly wig.
The plot, as you would expect, involves C. Thomas Howell chasing the secrets Leonardo da Vinci hid in his papers and the Shroud of Turin (which may or may not have really been Christ’s burial shroud, the movie seems to keep changing its mind on that). Along the way he’s helped by (and has to deal with constant accusations of blasphemy from) Nicole Sherwin (Safe House, and um, Untold Stories of The ER) and is harassed by Lance Henrikson and his sidekick Alexis Zibolis (also of Untold Stories of the ER, weird), doing a hilarious impression of Heroes-era Kristen Bell. Oh, and when I say “harassed by” I mean “loses everything he finds to”. On the scale of Indy knock-offs, Howell falls somewhere between Nic Cage and Noah Wiley. Mother fucker got mugged for the Shroud of Turin! And this is the same guy who carjacks a double-decker bus. It’s impossible to tell how good or bad he is at his job.
But seriously, who decided that the guy from Soul Man is an action hero? I need to know.
I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings, but you’re no Harrison Ford.
Anyway, Howell and Sherwin run around defiling ruins and works of art and then Henrikson and Zibolis swoop and go “yoink” until we get to the big reveal of what da Vinci was pointing them to from hundreds of years ago. Though unlike its more famous cousin, this film doesn’t have him hiding big metaphysical secrets about Jesus; here the treasure of the title is a literal treasure, a big f-ing pile of gold. Which actually works to its benefit, because Treasure is rollicking where Code is a slog.
I have to say I really enjoyed this one. It was a fun globe-trotting archaeological heist flick. And speaking of globe-trotting, can I point out how genuinely nice some of the production values are on this? I was legitimately surprised when I checked the credits and saw that it was filmed in various parts of California. I never thought that they really went to the actual locations, but I assumed they filmed in Prague or somewhere like that.
And frankly it’s worth your time just to watch Lance Henrikson; you’d assume he’d sleepwalk through a role like this, but he absolutely does not.
Stuff To Look Out For
After Howell’s character is super-badass and carjacks a double-deck bus, he has the shittiest looking, but probably most realistic fight ever put to film. It’s terrible. It’s just two dudes lamely grappling and shoving. What a bizarre tonal shift.
There’s a moment where Henrikson is threatening Howell and he puts a cigarette in his mouth backwards, tries to light it and throws it away in disgust. There is no way that was scripted, but the way Asylum films are made there is also no way they’d waste the time or money on a second take. So instead it becomes a character beat. Damn, I love this company.
How does it compare?
I stayed awake through all of The Da Vinci Treasure, that’s more than I can say for The Da Vinvi Code. Both times I tried to watch it. What does that tell you?
Next time: Pirates of Treasure Island