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Overall Rating
2.49

Awesome: 4.25%
Worth A Look: 12.26%
Average: 27.83%
Pretty Bad39.15%
Total Crap: 16.51%

19 reviews, 98 user ratings


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Da Vinci Code, The
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by Todd LaPlace

"Mild fun with religious dogmas! Oooh!"
3 stars

How does one hardcover book end up on “The New York Times” best seller list for 163 weeks? How does that same book end up topping the paperback chart for seven straight weeks? How many copies of one crappy book does one person need? It’s a stupid book you read on a stupid beach on your stupid vacation. As a movie, “The Da Vinci Code” isn’t quite as crappy, but it’s still pretty much a stupid movie you watch on a stupid summer day. It’s entertaining enough for a few hours, but as soon as you’re done, it’s instantly forgettable. Better luck next time, Ron.

I know it’s already a cliché and therefore, an unnecessarily excessive hyperbole, but yes, I am one of the six people that has not read “The Da Vinci Code.” My best friend read it. My mom read it. My girlfriend did not read it (which made me like her more), but that’s because she’s a book snob. She doesn’t like to read excessively popular books (AKA crap) opting instead for what the critics (AKA other snobs) either call classic (AKA boring) or post-modern (AKA self-indulgent). But none of that means she doesn’t have great taste in books — which she’ll freely tell you — nor does that mean she (or I) have some sort of prejudice against “The Da Vinci Code” as a movie. I just didn’t want you to believe I had some sort of pre-meditated motive for the mild thrashing I’m about to give Ron Howard’s movie.

It should be said, however, that the film is near universally recognized as superior to the book, as Howard is a fantastically better director than Dan Brown is a writer, which is less praise for Howard and more a slam on Brown. From what I’ve read of the novel (little more than the prologue and first chapter), Brown’s style is simple and clunky. Sentences are short and to the point, while embellishments are largely ignored in favor of obscure words related to obscure religious sects. The story is solid, but the novel reads more like an outline than a fleshed-out finished product.

But all that really means is the movie is correctly identified as the superior version; it doesn’t actually say much about the film itself. Once again, the potential is all there — the highly-inventive, detailed story, a laundry list of talented actors — but it never quite delivers. In this instance, it isn’t a case of lack of talent, but rather a pension for the overdramatic. “The Da Vinci Code” is one of those movies that feature a never-ending drone of cliché “chase” music that’s present in most summer action movies, despite the absence of Arnold Schwarzenegger and oversized phallic weaponry.

Tom Hanks and his highly-quaffed hair (two separate living entities, I’m sure) star as Robert Langdon, a Harvard professor and author of books on religious symbology. He is in Paris for a lecture, signing of his latest book and an impromptu meeting with the curator at the Louvre. The only problem is said curator was shot by an albino monk named Silas (Paul Bettany), after which he covered himself in his own blood and left clues for the professor and his granddaughter, police cryptographer Sophie Neveu (“Amelie” star Audrey Tautou), so they can solve man’s greatest question: who killed him. Talk about narcissism.

So yes, the question is a little more complicated than one man’s death (or four, as the case may be). It seems that the curator was the grand-master of a secret quartet known as the Priory of Sion, whose members protect an ancient secret that could take down the Catholic Church. His killer belongs to Opus Dei, a real life Catholic organization that’s known for its devout, prayerful members. It’s also now the organization that’s angry at Dan Brown for portraying them as crazy wackjobs. Of course, the dogmas of both organizations don’t really matter, as neither group is more than an arbitrary selection. In fact, the film is so overloaded with random elements that this nearly two and a half hour movie could probably be cut in half. For example, Robert is claustrophobic because as a child, he fell down a well. That’s it really. He freaks out once or twice and Sophie has to calm him down, but that’s about it. Maybe it plays more of a role in the book, but when it comes to movies, there are adaptations and then there are recreations. If I wanted to see an exact clone of the novel, I’d have read it two years ago.

Outside of these excessive details, though, “The Da Vinci Code” is actually pretty entertaining summer thriller. Instead of just bringing Silas to justice, Robert and Sophie get pulled into a mass conspiracy that threatens to take down society as we know it. That secret (which means if you want to be surprised and haven’t read the book or read reviews or seen the trailer, you might want to skip down a paragraph) leads the pair on a quest for the Holy Grail, and contrary to the Indiana Jones ethos, it isn’t so much a physical cup as a vessel for the blood of Christ. The vessel is Mary Magdalene and the blood is his children (take that, Steven Spielberg!). Yes, there is more to the story, so don’t think I’ve spoiled the whole thing, and then again, this whole theory could be little more than the crazy ramblings of a group of kooks.

It would not be an overstatement to say that “The Da Vinci Code,” with the massive amounts of pre-release hype, is a bit disappointing, but it’s not really a bad movie either. There’s definitely plenty to nitpick and even more to flat out complain about — like how did a police cryptographer become so good at navigating Paris streets in reverse? — but there’s also plenty to praise, primarily a magnificent performance from Sir Ian McKellen as Sir Leigh Teabing, a friend of Robert and an expert in crackpot theories about the Priory. After getting blamed for the murder, Leigh offers Robert and Sophie sanctuary and excitedly rambles on about the mysteries of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and all the rest. McKellen deserves a lot of credit for making the requisite longwinded background story surprisingly entertaining…at least, until Silas shows up and starts trying to shoot everybody and police inspector Bezu Fache (Jean Reno) follows to arrest the same folk.

The controversy surrounding this movie has already been well-documented, but after seeing the movie, I have to say it’s pretty unfounded. Yes, there are elements that many within the church system will probably disagree with, especially since at least a few people will take the fiction as fact, but this isn’t another coming of “Fahrenheit 9/11” or “The Passion of the Christ.” The movie isn’t even as controversial as “The Breakfast Club.” It’s nothing more than one of those nice, light summer thrillers; an overblown production that’s mildly entertaining, but largely forgettable once it’s over. With the release of the third “X-Men” movie nipping on its heels, you’d better get your screening in quick — “The Da Vinci Code” will be missing before you know it.

Eh. It’s better than getting hit in the head with a brick for two and a half hours, or getting jabbed in the eyes with red-hot pokers. Or a Ridley Scott movie.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=14534&reviewer=401
originally posted: 05/26/06 07:58:35
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell silly crap 1 stars
10/12/13 Aby Crap 1 stars
7/04/10 azamhe catholics should not believe in this...it is only God who knows everything,lets not ask God 2 stars
4/30/09 Misha The worst movie T.Hanks ever played in. Why did he have to do it anyways? 1 stars
1/17/09 Aesop Skip the book; it's cheaper to read used baby diapers, and the smell is fainter. 1 stars
10/26/08 Shaun Wallner This movie stinks!! 2 stars
10/04/08 arthur daley tedious melodrama 1 stars
9/07/08 Samantha Pruitt inredibly predicatble, still fun though 3 stars
5/15/08 PAUL SHORTT IN A WORD - ABHORRENT 1 stars
2/25/08 SamanthaP the clue finding was cool, but it was so obvious what was gonna happen though. 3 stars
10/16/07 fools♫gold Of course the book is better - that's common sense. Not that I'll read it... 3 stars
10/14/07 pablo eneas The book was mediocre but at least interesting. The is useless 1 stars
10/05/07 TreeTiger Horrible movie - Audrey Tautou acts like a retarded 12 year old with a speech impediment 1 stars
8/23/07 Amin Abdullah The film was good, the book was perfect but a Da Vinci code mud/muck/mush would be divine! 5 stars
8/13/07 Annonomiss Book is clearer but still ya need to pay attention to the details to get it all. Skip it. 2 stars
4/19/07 Stevo UK Watching this film twice could give you head cancer 1 stars
4/13/07 Anikka Read the book...much better 1 stars
2/18/07 David Pollastrini the bad hair day code 4 stars
2/12/07 Austin Wertman To tell ya the truth, I really liked it 4 stars
1/18/07 Indrid Cold The story is fairly intriguing, but the Nancy Drew elements and gaps in logic do it in. 3 stars
1/03/07 Matt Dark, messy. Hanks miscast. Rather read the book 2 stars
12/29/06 Jennifer Raven I liked the "history" to it. acting was kind of eh, but liked it 3 stars
12/10/06 Craig It insults Christianity, so it must be true, or at least today's generation thinks so. 1 stars
12/05/06 wufongtan boring book, boring movie. can i give minus 1 star? well thats what this star is aminus 1 stars
11/29/06 Gwen Stefani? Better than I expected, but lacking something. 4 stars
11/25/06 sokukodo Loved it! 4 stars
11/15/06 Jari Movie sucks big time, casting too.. 1 stars
11/13/06 ras Book was well written, good use of fact & fiction to encourage dialogue.The movie failed 3 stars
8/17/06 Pn. The final three minutes are sopt-on brilliant. Is that enough? 3 stars
8/06/06 Erik Van Sant Painful to sit through. Hanks sucks, Ron Howard sucks, the whole hoopla sucks. Avoid. 1 stars
7/13/06 Agent Sands OK, so it's good. Now can everyone please shut the fuck up about it? 4 stars
7/08/06 Anthony Feor They couldn't even crack the damn code 3 stars
7/06/06 Keith Carter Bought in Bangkok for $2 - What a waste of money! 1 stars
6/27/06 Michael Parkes the last half hour is surprisingly moving 4 stars
6/27/06 Kimberly Certainly not the thriller it is made out to be. 3 stars
6/13/06 Michael Howard proves yet again why he isn't remembered at Oscar time. 2 stars
6/12/06 Monday Morning An intriguing flick not for those with short attention spans. Could be edited a bit. 4 stars
6/09/06 Beatriz it was an interesting movie apart from the controversy it has received 4 stars
6/07/06 Raven blasphemous? lol 5 stars
6/07/06 Quigley blasphemous, dark and far, far too long; stated a bunch of lies as truth. don't even bother 2 stars
6/06/06 alice Girls, the stuff bout Magdalena is no fiction but the truth, go see it. 4 stars
6/03/06 Rowsdower Better than your average thriller. Even if it's junk history, it's fun junk history. 4 stars
6/03/06 steve fahey At least by comparison to the wordy book, the film gets high marks for pace and action. 4 stars
6/02/06 atanu so dark the con perpetrated by dan. 1 stars
6/02/06 Stacy Not worthy of the hype it was given, but not worthy of the horrible reviews. Ian's great. 3 stars
6/01/06 shruthi reddy the movie sucks 1 stars
5/31/06 Peter Great review I ended up seeing this stuff because of this review. 5 stars
5/31/06 daveyt film dragged monotonously, the booked described the story better in words 2 stars
5/31/06 Ally Tut, Tom Hanks let himself down, who the hell was that Audrey Tautou girl?? Shes crap!! 2 stars
5/30/06 Amanda The movie was a pain in the ass. 1 stars
5/30/06 Scott Trash! They should have paid ME to suffer through this turkey!!! 1 stars
5/30/06 Jeff Withrow The film was good - the book was great, 4 stars
5/30/06 San Lamar its aiight 3 stars
5/30/06 millersxing Tautou and Hanks made solid choices, but neither transcends his or her role. 3 stars
5/30/06 Sean D Overhyped complete fucking shit 1 stars
5/30/06 Zaw over hyped! the bitch accent was annoying! It was like I paid $10 to watch Discovery Chanl! 1 stars
5/29/06 Jason Book is shit, so is the movie 1 stars
5/29/06 Troy M. Grzych The pieces of the puzzle come together pretty entertainly, but there is no surprises. 4 stars
5/29/06 Charlene Javier Completely disappointing. 2 stars
5/29/06 Anthony Feor Disapointing, If you want a movie where you have to think, think twice about seeing this. 3 stars
5/28/06 ad youll be better off watching discovery channel 2 stars
5/27/06 Paterfam001@yahoo.ca Todd Laplace: it's penchant and highly-coiffed. 3 stars
5/26/06 john bale A faithful adaption of the novel, a clever but pedestrian thriller for the Thinking Man. 4 stars
5/26/06 captain craig Howard proves more is certainly NOT better 2 stars
5/26/06 dr.mendonca.correia@oninet.pt Pasolini, with 0.0000001% of this trash's budget, made the great "St. Matthew's Gospel"!... 1 stars
5/26/06 jcjs fine acting, interesting plot but something lacking.. i like the idea Jesus had manly sex 4 stars
5/26/06 Becki D I don't think the subject matter came across on screen as well as it does in the novel. 3 stars
5/25/06 Mase This is the storry that has captivated so many readers!! Not bad but little to recommend. 3 stars
5/25/06 saw When will the lies stop? The Bible contains the Truth! 1 stars
5/24/06 ES Great twists, good character developement, amazing suspense, Ron Howard is at his best here 4 stars
5/24/06 Anthony Feor A disapointing movie with meaning 3 stars
5/24/06 Anonymous Simply Amazing! Amazing story and amazing job by Howard to recreate it! 5 stars
5/23/06 Anthony G Interesting story, movie dragged on and on though. 3 stars
5/23/06 Josh Standlee Not as good as I thought it would be. 3 stars
5/23/06 Maricel Padilla No Comment 3 stars
5/23/06 John Shannon Excellent adaptation. It captured the feel of the book perfectly. 5 stars
5/23/06 Frenzy Not so bad at all 4 stars
5/23/06 Bob Dole it was a horrible film 2 stars
5/22/06 chris. shitty cinema happens when a director knows he automatically has a shitload of viewers 1 stars
5/22/06 L. Mahaffey fiction and fiction it is! 1 stars
5/22/06 Dave Hey, i thought it was pretty good, and Tautou great. Guess I wouldn't make a good critic. 4 stars
5/22/06 Pokejedservo An intresting though not flawless film, Ian McKellan easily stole the show though. 4 stars
5/22/06 Aaron Valdes I enjoyed. It had terrific elements. 5 stars
5/22/06 Marce Hopelessly long-winded and miscast. 2 stars
5/21/06 Vera Mallard Long and silly. 2 stars
5/21/06 ajay I read the book, so I was just kinda waiting for the scenes I knew were coming... 3 stars
5/21/06 doug yawn 2 stars
5/21/06 BoyInTheDesignerBubble Opie, you've made a bad movie, now go to your room!!! 1 stars
5/20/06 bobbrewster Entertaining and enjoyable, which is what most normal people will conclude 5 stars
5/20/06 Ole Man Bourbon Dead-end or preposterous notions at times, crappy screeplay, awkward direction. 3 stars
5/20/06 BrianWilly Awesome. 5 stars
5/20/06 Marcia Zarwetten-Grassi Whether church is right or wrong, it's troubling that some would impose a Jesus dynasty! 4 stars
5/20/06 alien assassin The most overhyped movie event of the decade...Makes "Phantom Menace" look like LOTR 2 stars
5/20/06 San Lamar didnt live up to expectation 3 stars
5/20/06 Illumine Duh . . . 1 stars
5/20/06 Leo ZZZzzzzzzz-Boreing 1 stars
5/20/06 family medicine intern outstanding 5 stars
5/19/06 Adrian Disappointing. 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  19-May-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 14-Nov-2006

UK
  19-May-2006

Australia
  18-May-2006


Directed by
  Ron Howard

Written by
  Akiva Goldsman

Cast
  Tom Hanks
  Audrey Tautou
  Jean Reno
  Ian McKellen
  Paul Bettany
  Alfred Molina



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