"The Da Vinci Code"
Directed by Ron Howard.
Written by Akiva Goldsman. Based on the novel by Dan Brown.
Starring Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Ian McKellan and Paul Bettany.
Release Year: 2006
Review Date: 5/25/06
I finished the novel in time to view the new
film "The Da Vinci Code" having read the source material...and,
similar to my feelings of the book, the film is a slight
This is because I made the mistake of
reading the adventures of hero Robert Langdon in order...and, as
such, once you have read Angels & Demons you realize that
The Da Vinci Code almost seems to rip off the format of that
first and strangely less-famous novel. The good thing is that
it's not a bad formula to rip off, so author Dan Brown's second
Langdon adventure features the same structure: a plot that
runs its course in about 12 real-time hours, a hero that is
basically a less physical version of Indiana Jones, a heroine that
Langdon meets as his adventure begins who is involved because she
has suffered the loss of a close family member, a single antagonist
working on behalf of a larger entity that should easily remove
Langdon from the equation about a half-dozen times but fails.
The big difference, besides a location change (Angels & Demons
takes place in Rome, mostly; in The Da Vinci Code, it's Paris
& London): the storyline for A&D is a better mix of
characters, story, treasure-hunting symbology and action, and
therefore would make for an interesting movie...The Da Vinci Code is
brilliant in its plot pacing but is mostly guys sitting and thinking
for extended stretches, with an occasional chase thrown in...it just
doesn't make for good movie blockbuster story material!
So, in the movie version--which runs way too
long at 150 minutes--we get famed Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon
(Tom Hanks) as he falls down the rabbit hole, spun in circles as he
goes from teaching a seminar in Paris one evening to finding out
that a symbology colleague named Sauniere (Jean-Pierre Marielle) has
been shot at the Louvre to finding out that Langdon himself is the
chief suspect in the case run by French police led by "The Bull"
(Jean Reno) to finding out that the cops are setting him up.
With the help of a French cryptologist named Sophie (Audrey Tautou,
from "Amelie") who
happens to be Sauniere's granddaughter, Langdon and his new
accomplice have to outrun the cops and find out who killed Grandpa,
who used the last 15 minutes of his life (trust me, you either buy
in at this point or you don't, in both the book and film versions)
to write clues on two pieces of artwork in invisible ink, leave a
key behind another piece of art, write four lines of a clue near a
spot where he was going to die in invisible ink, spread blood in a
pattern on his chest AND leave his body spread eagle with his dying
breath all while bleeding out of his gut.
Yeah, that's the setup.
If you can get past that, the book is
entertaining, and its ideas on the real origin of Christ, religious
sects, brain-teasing riddles and numbers studies like the Fibonacci
Sequence (Darren Aronofsky's "Pi" studied this in more detail) are a
good read. The constant hopping between Langdon/Sophie, the
assassin Silas (played in the film by Paul Bettany), and the police
chase led by The Bull and his chief assistant, Collet (Etienne
Chicot) make for a good time, but the main reason you will like the
material is due to the ideas Brown has come up with (some real, some
imagined, from what I can tell in reading response to this book by
the educated audiences and theologians involved) regarding Mary
Magdalene, Jesus Christ, the forgotten Gospels and Opus Dei, amongst
other things. That, and a good puzzle here and there for you
to sit on.
Too bad the movie doesn't convey the same
things, because the movie isn't nearly as controversial as the book
ideas seem to be (some things are left on the cutting room floor);
too bad the movie seems to quicken certain points that needed to be
drawn out and vice versa, like when Langdon is supposed to go to a
library to do research on one of the final clues in the story...in
the movie, he actually bums a guy's cell phone on a bus and Googles
Alexander Pope. Are you fucking kidding me? There was so
much rich knowledge about the Louvre in the book that is turned into
a literally-ten-minute number where we get nothing about why Langdon
is so versed in the museum's architecture and layout.
But, mostly, the main problem with the film
is that it just felt blah to me; the tough thing about having
already read the book is that you are waiting for the book's crucial
moments, as opposed to sitting back and just enjoying the flow of
the movie script...it makes for a much tougher viewing experience.
And, for the first time in a long time, I thought that both Hanks
and director Ron Howard really stunk it up. Yes, I can imagine
Langdon being this boring in Brown's imagination, but for some
reason, Hanks plays him as bored even when he's being shot at or
physically intimidated. Just because he was shot at in
Angels & Demons (which takes place roughly a year before the
events of The Da Vinci Code) doesn't mean he's suddenly John
McClane and only kinda scared by staring down the barrel of a gun.
Doesn't Langdon just seem easy-going in this movie? I don't
know, I just know it wasn't working for me.
I don't normally read reviews of films but I
had heard much negativity after "The Da Vinci Code" premiered at
Cannes last week; I have to admit, I am in agreement!
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard