Critics and controversy aside, The Da Vinci Code is a verifiable blockbuster. Combine the film's huge worldwide box-office take with over 100 million copies of Dan Brown's book sold, and The Da Vinci Code has clearly made the leap from pop-culture hit to a certifiable franchise. The leap for any story making the move from book to big screen, however, is always more perilous. In the case of The Da Vinci Code, the plot is concocted of such a preposterous formula of elements that you wouldn't envy screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, the man tasked with making this story filmable. The script follows Dan Brown's book as closely as possible while incorporating a few needed changes, including a better ending. And if you're like most of the world, by now you've read the book and know how it goes: while lecturing in Paris, noted Harvard Professor of Symbology Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is summoned to the Louvre by French police to help decipher a bizarre series of clues left at the scene of the murder of the chief curator. Enter Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou), gifted cryptologist. Neveu and Langdon team up to solve the mystery, and from there the story is propelled across Europe, ballooning into a modern-day mini-quest for the Holy Grail, where secret societies are discovered, codes are broken, and murderous albino monks are thwarted–¦ oh, and alternative theories about the life of Christ and the beginnings of Christianity are presented too, of course. It's not the typical formula for a stock Hollywood thriller. In fact, taken solely as a mystery, the movie almost works–despite some gaping holes–mostly just because it keeps moving. Brown's greatest trick was to have the entire story take place in one day, so the action is forced to keep moving, despite some necessary pauses for exposition. As a screen couple, Hanks and Tautou are just fine together but not exactly memorable; meanwhile Sir Ian McKellen's scenery-chewing as pivotal character Sir Leigh Teabing is just what the film needed to keep it from taking itself too seriously. The whole thing is like a good roller-coaster ride: try not to think too much about it–just sit back and enjoy the trip. –Daniel Vancini
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On The DVD
The DVD extras on a film as popular as The Da Vinci Code should be plentiful, and this version doesn't skimp. With over 90 minutes of special features, including ten behind-the-scenes featurettes, there's a lot here to explore beyond the film itself. The question is, is there anything new here that we haven't heard before, in all the hype, pseudo-documentaries, and controversy surrounding the movie, to make it worthwhile? For most viewers, the answer will be "yes." Essentially, if you like the movie, if you enjoyed the book, you will get a lot out of them.
Just as the movie is intended to make the book come to life, the DVD extras should make the film come to life by pointing the audience into the world of the filmmakers, connecting the dots between print and film, and for the most part they do just that. The extras here range from the typical look behind-the-scenes to more in-depth features on the supporting characters, the locations, and the Mona Lisa herself. "First Day on the Set with Ron Howard" features the director gushing about the opportunity to film in the Louvre and work with Tom Hanks again (the two worked together before on Splash and Apollo 13). It's a short piece that doesn't reveal much beyond making an attempt to share Howard's excitement (with the "Gee, I really loved working with him/her on this project" that you hear in every such featurette), but viewers might enjoy seeing how the stage was set up in the famous museum, down to the spike tape on the floor showing actors where to hit their marks. The Filmmaking Experience, Parts 1 and 2 further explores the creative and technical aspects of the filmmaking process. A Conversation with Dan Brown starts out feeling like a puff-piece (the man who wrote this book got started at age 5 with a story called The Giraffe, The Pig, and the Pants on Fire. "It was a thriller," he says.) and unfortunately it doesn't go very deep into much of anything of interest. But on the other hand, this isn't 60 Minutes here; it's intended to give viewers a better sense of the man behind the franchise, which it does. Much of the footage from this interview is sprinkled throughout some of the other featurettes. Meanwhile, the character behind the franchise, Robert Langdon, is examined in his own featurette, as is Sophie Neveu. The cool thing here is getting under the skin of the actors to see how they approached the characters, knowing that most of the movie-going public already has formed their own ideas about the characters from the book.
The most interesting extras are the featurettes that focus on the history behind the mystery. Or is it the mystery behind the history? Either way, the first one on the Mona Lisa, and the second featurette on the many codes and symbols that are hidden throughout the movie balance out the remainder of the extras nicely by demonstrating the sense of intrigue, mystery, and game-playing adventure that made The Da Vinci Code so popular in the first place. –Daniel Vancini
Beyond The Da Vinci Code
The Films of Tom Hanks
The Films of Ron Howard
The Da Vinci DVDs: Decoding "The Da Vinci Code"
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User Ratings and Reviews
5 Stars The DaVinci Code
Excellent adaptation of the Dan Brown novel. Casting, and character development very good. A movie to watch again and again.
5 Stars James Bond, no; Indiana Jones, yes.
5 of 5 stars for the movie The Da Vinci Code. This is the first of (currently) three books in the Robert Langdon series. Langdon (Tom Hanks) is a specialist in symbology (the history and meaning of various symbols from different cultures. Langdon is called to help the police in Paris with a murder. This starts a long chain of events in which various religious factions are chasing "the Holy Grail". Langdon gains the help of a police officer who is the daughter of the murder victim. As the complex puzzle grows, Langdon reaches out for help from an old friend. This chain of events has several surprises as we learn some people are not who they appear to be (e.g. the lead police detective is actually a member of one of the religious factions and is trying to frame Langdon for the murder). Even Langdon's old friend is not exactly who he appears, nor is his butler! Complex, interesting, exciting and compelling is this story. Langdon is no James Bond, but, he does well during action moments. Langdon somewhat reminds me of Indiana Jones; college profession who has interesting adventures with historical artifacts and legends.
A shout-out to Ron Howard for outstanding Direction of this movie! I feel the movie was totally faithful to the book. The last 5 minutes of the movie is totally wonderful (from Langdon's shaving accident). I can watch it over and over. On the Blu-Ray, there are details on how this scene was created. Simply Wow!
Much has been written and debated over the historical validity of Brown's story and assertions. If you set aside those various debates and opinions and just take it as a story of fiction, it is a very good movie! I highly recommend this movie!
4 Stars Cast Saves a Less Than Moving Script
It would almost be wiser to watch the movie before you read the book. My advice seems backwards, yes, but reading Dan Brown's gripping novel first will cause viewers of the movie to be much more critical. Though this is the case with many books turned Hollywood features, The Da Vinci Code is not a bad adaptation of the original masterpiece. It just had far too much to live up to.
First of all, 2 hours and 20 minutes, the approximate run-time of The Da Vinci Code, is not nearly big enough a window to fit a story Brown told so thoroughly. I understand the need to trim the fat in some places, and I understand that very few people are lured to the movies for a 3 hour affair, but for a tale of such epic proportions that generated such controversy, an exception had to be made. The movie took on a lethal pace, giving the actors no time to really place emphasis on the quest at hand, and giving the viewers no time to really take in historical twist that is being proposed. For a Holy Grail quest, the action vastly outweighed the drama, an aspect that caused the plot to suffer. Frankly, it's not a popcorn movie, nor a date movie. Most of the viewers, I'd assume were readers first. It was made too much to be a Hollywood blockbuster; it's almost like the makers were tiptoeing through the script to be sure they didn't ruffle too many feathers. That's just impossible. I know big budget films command big budget dollars, but you can't be so careful with a seemingly instant classic work of literature. I would've been happy to give this movie 2 hrs, 50 minutes of my time if it had gone more in depth. The way Dan Brown told it, if you hadn't heard the whispers before, you were almost out of breath reading his dramatic alterations to history. I was never moved in the same way by the film.
The script was written in a very matter-of-fact manner. That is to say, especially in Audrey Tautou's (Sophie Neveu), there were no moments of absolute astonishment made for these characters. Outside Sophie's final revelation in Scotland, utter disbelief of the events transpiring always seemed to escape her. I thought the actors were given very little to work with in terms of their emotional connection to the story, and that is the purpose for my subject title. Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou were an excellent pair, their chemistry visibly growing both as actors and as characters throughout. However, Brown really spends a lot of time developing a relationship between the two and I thought the film could've spent a little more time combing out the details of why they were teamed up and how they grew closer as they learned more about each other. Ian McKellen was a fantastic choice for Sir Leigh Teabing. But again, this man was portrayed as someone who moved to France because finding the Grail was his life's work. He was a man of great enthusiasm for the quest, giddy even, as some would say Brown made it seem. The movie not only didn't discuss in depth how Langdon knew Teabing, but it made Teabing seem like nothing more than a history buff.
For a story named The Da Vinci Code, the presence of Leonardo Da Vinci in this film was scarce, at best. Jacques Sauniere was supposedly a man so passionate about former Grand Master and multi-talented Leonardo Da Vinci, yet very little of the Da Vinci story was passed through. I felt like a history student reading the book, and though highly inaccurate in parts, Brown made it a very informative read. I was disappointed that the movie chose not to dive into great detail of the anagrams, the paintings, the knight on Sauniere's desk, even the Vitruvian Man. The Louvre scenes felt rushed, and it was really the groundwork the rest of the movie was built on. They should've been laid out with more care. Unfortunately, I wouldn't be surprised if many people who only saw the movie got lost very quickly.
I thought a couple flashbacks to Langdon's classes at Harvard would've sufficed the history of Da Vinci's work and his connection to the story. Apparently, my ideas were not as popular with the writers.
Lastly, why did we have to eliminate an entire cryptex? Is someone to tell me that ten more minutes could not have been spent on the cryptex this movie chose to completely ignore?
Flawed, yes. A total failure? Absolutely not. As previously mentioned, I think the casting was brilliant. It was a stellar performance brought forth by all parties considering the mediocre writing and direction. A couple other high points:
- Though altered from the book, the scene in the Rosslyn Chapel was exceptional.
- Sophie's creative driving in the chase scene from the American Embassy.
- I had a hard time visualizing the Swiss Bank when reading the book. The movie painted a good picture.
All in all, it's hard to completely ruin a great story, so I enjoyed The Da Vinci Code for just that; the story itself. For each character, it served a different purpose; to clear one's name, the unveil the truth about one's family, to chase one's lifelong dream… to strip the power a brotherhood has held for centuries. I would've given it 3 1/2 stars, but with the underrated performances of Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou and company, I gave it the benefit of the doubt. Expectations are a dangerous arsenal to go into a movie with. Leave them behind and you should enjoy this film.
5 Stars Good movie
This is a really entertaining movie. Wished it were longer though and more in depth.
5 Stars "Thought-Provoking"
When you watch the "Da Vinci Code" you must pay careful attention to the plot. This is not one of those films that you can pop into the DVD player and watch while your mind is elsewhere; this is a movie that needs to be viewed with articulate attention. I was halfway through the movie before I knew what it was actually about. I have talked to others who have said that reading the book before viewing the film helps the viewer in understanding the characters and story so I would advised that first. But if you haven't got access to the book here is what I surmised from the viewing of the movie: the main story focuses on the allegation that Jesus Christ actually fatherd a child and had a girl named Sarah. Sarah's blood line exists to this day much to the chagrin of the Catholic Church. The movie dramitizes certain members who are Roman Catholic determined not to have this knowledge of that bloodline become known. Leonardo Da Vinci's portrait of the last supper has clues and hints of this new knowledge of Christ and that is major plot of the film and alas the "Da Vinci Code" comes from this. The film became one of the biggest blockbusters in motion picture history while at the same time becoming very controversial with conservative Catholics. At nearly two and half hours long the movie makes the viewer think if these allegations of Christ are true. The film is extremely well-acted by Tom Hanks and the rest of the cast and Ron Howard did a virtuoso job as director filming the movie entirely in Europe. The "Da Vinci Code" would spawn the sequel "Angels and Demons" that also became a hit. This 2 disc DVD features bonuses including interviews with Hanks and Howard, behind the scenes clips, and much more. Ebert and Roeper give the film "Two thumbs Up".