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Wednesday, 6 May 2009

The Da Vinci Code, 2006 - Movie Review

Director: Ron Howard
Starring: Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Jean Reno, Ian McKellan, Alfred Molina, Paul Bettany, Jürgen Prochnow
Score: 7 / 10

This excellent review is by guest blogger, James Jacob of Basket Case.

With Angels and Demons being released next week, I wanted to re-watch and review the prequel / follow up - The Da Vinci Code. If you weren't already aware, the Da Vinci Code book is actually a sequel to Angels and Demons (they even reference it in the opening chapter!) but for the movie versions, this is reversed.

If you haven't seen the countless news stories already, The Da Vinci Code is based upon the cult phenomenon book by author Dan Brown about Harvard professor of religious symbology Robert Langdon (Hanks), who is called in by French detective Bezu Fache (Reno) to provide some insight into the death of a notable museum curator.

However, he soon discovers he was not there to help, but instead to become the prime suspect into the murder. With the help of the curator's granddaughter, Sophie Neveu (Tautou), they join forces to find out who killed her grandfather and why.

Meanwhile, we follow Bishop Aringarosa (Molina) and his own quest with the aid of albino monk Silas (Bettany) to find the key to... well, I won't ruin it for the one or two of you who don't know or haven't read the book.

The main thing that bothered me with The Da Vinci Code was the pacing. There are certain sections that flowed well, only to be undone with so much talking, explanation and lecture, I felt like I was back at University as my lecturers were giving a presentation. The pace was very much either on or off, no middle ground to move the plot along, it seemed if they weren't explaining the decisions made by Emperor Constantine then the main cast was on the run in a car.

Also disappointing to me beyond pacing, is the acting from such a talented cast. Firstly, Tom Hanks. As the leading man, and the one audience members follow, Hanks presents a character without much behind him. Most of the time, I can watch Tom Hanks get lost in his characters but here, I was looking at Tom Hanks, with a mullet, pretending to be a man named Robert.

And the same can be said for most of the supporting characters including Audrey Tautou, who is sorely miscast in a important role to play opposite an even diluted Tom Hanks performance, Jean Reno, Alfred Molina and even Paul Bettany (though I must admit, he was indeed pretty damn scary and certainly creepy).

For instance, and this is spoiler material here, Alfred Molina basically is a father figure to a psychologically disturbed Bettany, but I didn't feel the emotion between the two. Sure, Aringarosa was using Silas for the needs of the Opus Dei, but their outcomes had no resonance and therefore, the film as little impact in that area.

However, it's our very own Gandolf, I mean veteran actor Ian McKellan that delivers the best performance out of the bunch. It's not to say it's anything magical, but he was the only one I even remotely was interested in and probably saved this film from becoming a complete dog. His character is eccentric, full of energy and seemed to be the only one involved with the story with any sort of grandeur or amazement.

The Da Vinci Code is not a bad film but instead more... disappointing. Taking a good 20-minutes off the standard version would've made the pacing better, though then Howard would alienate the book's core base. This is why adapting a novel is difficult as books hold so much information that it is nearly impossible to include everything needed, so one wonders if this was the case here. I consider Code to be disappointing, not the major stinker that some around have trashed it.

You really have to remember that this is just a film however and not spend hours surfing the net looking for refernces to Opus Dei, The Priory of Sion and the Holly Grail. Here in the UK, a very much unliked ex-Education Minister is also an Opus Dei member - so take everything with a pinch of salt!

Lastly - to get you properly in the mood, below if the trailer for Angels and Demons.

Thanks for the review James.

Leave a comment on this post below.



Robo-DJ said...

I thought The Da Vinci Code sucked as a film and a book. Felt as if I had read that story many times before and just cannot see why it has been so succesful - probably the Church trying to ban it or kicking off about the whole thing.

Still, I enjoyed the review and agree wholeheartedly on the pacing being majorly sucky

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