DA VINCI CODE, THE: DVD
Harvard symbologist Professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is asked to decipher a strange symbol found near the body of the elderly curator of the Louvre in Paris. Helped by police cryptologist Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou), Robert sets out to follow these clues and others hidden in the artworks of Leonardo Da Vinci. Secrets with sensational religious implications become apparent, and soon they are on the run from ghostly monk Silas (Paul Bettany), policeman Bezu Fache (Jean Reno) and the formidable Bishop Aringarose (Alfred Molina). Robert heads for the stately home of his former colleague Sir Leigh Teabing (Ian McKellen) to ask for his help to decipher the secret that has been closely guarded for 2,000 years.
Review by Louise Keller:
There might be a riveting adventure thriller to be made from Dan Brown's controversial bestseller, but this is not it. Melodramatic, overlong and dare I say occasionally boring, Ron Howard's The Da Vinci Code gets lost in the maze of its puzzles and media hype. A murder, scrambled code, famous artworks, the search for the holy grail and the greatest cover up by protectors of religious sects.... The Church is outraged at the storyline that shatters its teachings, although those who are familiar with theories set out by theologists will no doubt see it differently. The themes are sensational, yet the film is anticlimactic delivering little tension or sense of reality.
Ian McKellen's crusty English symbologist is the best thing in the film, while Paul Bettany's self-flagellating Albino monk is chillingly good albeit over directed in his last few scenes, when he slips into a zombie movie. But Tom Hanks is miscast as the religious symbologist involved in the chalice of intrigue, and seems overly earnest and mechanical. Audrey Tautou, whose unique talents were on best display in Amelie, has little opportunity to shine and her stilted English pronunciation, although charming, is less than spontaneous. Never mind that the script doesn't call for romance, but there is zero charisma between the two. In fact, the greatest connection comes at the moment when McKellen's Sir Leigh Teabing kisses Sophie's hand, when they are introduced.
There are betrayals, duplicities and some well delivered reveals. There are plenty of tight close ups, often to the film's detriment, when we lose sense of place. Howard's decision to include grainy flashbacks is frustrating rather than involving. And Hans Zimmer's music is surprisingly unimaginative. The production design is striking though, and Paris landmarks are shown off like jewels. The Louvre, beautifully night-lit is spectacular, even though Jean Reno's gruff cop mutters 'It's a scar on the face of Paris.'
I resisted reading the book to date, wanting to see the film with as fresh an eye as possible. Even a fresh eye was disappointed. Thank goodness for that last extraordinary camera shot, the best cinematic moment in the film.
There are two DVD versions available which include numerous behind the scenes features. Beyond the features, the two-disc extended edition includes over 20 minutes of additional footage, filmmaker commentaries and other various featurettes including visual effects, props, editing, scoring, plus an introduction by director Ron Howard. You'll need to set aside the whole evening to do justice to this package. You can be the judge as to whether or not the special features soften the blow of the film.
Published October 12, 2006
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DA VINCI CODE, THE: DVD (M)
CAST: Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Ian McKellen, Alfred Molina, Jürgen Prochnow, Paul Bettany, Jean Reno
PRODUCER: John Calley, Brian Grazer
DIRECTOR: Ron Howard
SCRIPT: Akiva Goldsman (novel by Dan Brown)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Salvatore Totino
EDITOR: Daniel P. Hanley, Mike Hill
MUSIC: Hans Zimmer
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Allan Cameron
RUNNING TIME: 153 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 18, 2006
SPECIAL FEATURES: Single disc: Two-part behind the scenes feature on the making of the movie; featurette on the hidden codes and symbols; 7 additional featurettes[BREAK]Extended Edition - Two Discs: All the features from single disc version plus 22 minutes of additional footage; filmmaker commentaries; featurettes including first day on set with Ron Howard, book to screen, portrait of Langdon, close up on Mona Lisa, Da Vinci Tours, Da Vinci Props, Visual Effects, editing, scoring, cameos, codes, deleted scenes, DVD introduction by Ron Howard
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD RELEASE: October 11, 2006