Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou search for the Holy Grail—and some hair gel—in this adaptation of Dan Brown’s best selling mystery novel.
For those of you who have steered clear of all the fuss thus far, The Da Vinci Code is a theological thriller starring Tom Hanks as Dr. Robert Langdon, a leading American professor of symbology who links up with French police agent Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou) when the curator at the Louvre with whom he was supposed to meet turns up naked, dead, and posed like a Leonardo Da Vinci drawing with secret messages written next to him in invisible ink. As Langdon tries to outrun police captain Bezu Fache (Jean Reno) across Paris and London, he and Neveu start cracking the secret messages left by the curator, only to discover those codes might also lead them to the biggest secret of all—the Holy Grail.
When Ron Howard brought The Da Vinci Code to screens earlier this year, it was roundly panned by critics for being long-winded, dull, and slow—an impressive feat for a mystery/thriller. It also managed to raise the hackles of both religious leaders and albinos. Still, The Da Vinci Code still got people into the seats, with a worldwide box office gross of over $755 million. And, I’m not entirely sure it deserved the sound “thumping” that it got.
Yes, writer Akiva Goldsman (Cinderella Man, A Beautiful Mind) could have done a better job trying to boil down all the exposition in the book into action in the movie instead of just having characters spout it off to each other. Yes, Tom Hanks’ floppy hair isn’t what one would call flattering, and some of the all-important decoding waxes clunky and, at times, cheesy. And yes, I suppose you do expect more from something with a Ron Howard pedigree. That said, I still thought the movie was okay.
Perhaps because I am one of the millions of people who read the book, I was distracted by seeing the characters that had previous only existed in my mind rendered in the flesh. If anything, The Da Vinci Code may fall prey to the lesser-known mistake of sticking too close to the book instead of preserving its spirit, but making the necessary changes to make it work on film. Or perhaps it’s a middle-of-the-road movie, but all the hype before it came out set expectations too high. Whatever the case, it might not make my all-time Top Ten list, but if you liked the book, it’s watchable.
What’s On the Disc
With one whole disc of this two-disc set boasting over 90 minutes of extras, there are a lot of bonus features to choose from. Unfortunately, they are all featurettes, and none of them are particularly gripping.
Featurettes focusing on characters include “A Portrait of Langdon,” “Who is Sophie Neveu?” and “Unusual Suspects,” and they include author (and executive producer) Dan Brown providing less than fascinating insights into the story’s characters. “A Discussion With Dan Brown” gives lovers of the book their nod.
For those interested in a more behind-the-scenes look, “The Filmmaking Experience” (parts 1 and 2), “First Day on the Set with Ron Howard,” “Magical Places” (on the process of filming in Paris and London), “Close-Up on Mona Lisa” and “The Codes of The Da Vinci Code” (on codes and symbols hidden throughout the movie) stand in place of the usual film commentary by the director that is missing on this DVD set.
And finally, there is a piece on the codes that feature so prominently in the movie, as well as a Puzzle Game PC Demo, as well as the usual skippable bonus previews.