DVD Review – ‘The Da Vinci Code’
Posted by Collider
Reviewed by Andre Dellamorte
We're a Long Way from Splash
The Da Vinci Code. Blah Blah, best seller, blah. Blah, blah, hugely successful film adaptation, blah. Blah Blah, critically reviled, blah.
Watching the film it's easy to see why it got picked on. Ron Howard's direction is perfunctory at best, and the plotting of the book is a bit daft. Tom Hanks stars as Robert Langdon, a famous scholar of symbols through history who is called in to a murder scene. It seems a man at the Louvre was murdered and left clues that possibly Langdon can decipher. The detective on the case, Capitan Bezu Fache (Jean Reno) has erased the part of the message that points to Langdon, and hopes Robert will incriminate himself, but he's quickly partnered with the dead man's niece Agent Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou), and the two realize that Langdon's being set up. They run away, and have to find a gingerbread trail of clues from one mysterious piece of business to another, which eventually leads them to Sir Leigh Teabing (Ian MacKellen), who unveils that Leonardo Da Vinci was part of a sect that believe Christ had children. They're being followed by an albino monk named Silas (Paul Bettany), who's under the guidance of Bishop Manuel Aringarosa (Alfred Molina).
One of the biggest problems with the film is how silly most of the names are. Anthony Lane beat up on the film for it, but seriously, you have a character named Teabing. The main character is mostly playing catch-up the entire film, making him something of a passive force, as he's dragged from one location to the next, and the final reveal of the film happens about ten minutes after the film feels over. There are moments of cleverness, but we're never in the head of the protagonist enough to figure out the clues as he does, so most everything is explained after its happened.
Now, half of the problem is that with the literary phenomenon that is The Da Vinci Code there are huge fans who might balk at any deviation from the text, and in that sense Ron Howard is a good director for the material, hell the global box office shows that people were happy to pony up dough to see the adaptation, or perhaps skip the hassle of reading the book. But the book's structure makes for some awkward passages that are better read than watched, and Howard and screenwriter Akiva Goldsmith didn't really crack the book. Then again, with the success they didn't have to. This was a well sold event film that wasn't much of anything. The public for the most part expressed displeasure with it (I've yet to meet someone who loves the film, but may be at best satisfied with it), though the cast kind of makes up for some of the film's worst elements by being watchable performers, though no one brings their A game.
And yet, there are some moments and ideas that would have made for very entertaining going if Howard had any sort of panache. Had someone like Tony Scott directed it, or the now dead John Frankenheimer, it would have been that much more enjoyable. Hell John McTiernan, or some visual craftsman who could at least solve some of the pacing problems, and or make some of the stuff just that much visually exciting. Howard has always been more of an actor's director, and usually is only as good as his best performers and/or script (or that is to say when he works with Russell Crowe). And had it been done in the globe-hopping style of a Bond film (which to a certain extent the film is), then it might have been a not so healthy but filling serving of junk food. And to that the film is kind of offensive – in one moment Howard has people essentially run away from someone pointing a gun at them and then get away. Ugh.
Sony Pictures presents the film in two two-disc sets, one widescreen and the other Pan and Scan (we got the P&S). The first disc houses the film in Dolby Digital 5.1 and a collection of trailers. The second disc includes an introduction and ten featurettes covering the making of the film, and an interview with writer/producer Dan Brown. All pretty fluffy.