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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



Da Vinci Code, The
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by Mel Valentin

"So mediocre the con of Ron Howard and Akiva Goldsman."
3 stars

The first thing you need to know about Ron Howard's ("Cinderella Man," "The Missing," "A Beautiful Mind," "Far and Away," "Apollo 13") adaptation of Dan Brown's mega-selling pulp/conspiracy/mystery novel, "The Da Vinci Code," is that it's two hours and a half long. That kind of running length suggests bloat, self-indulgence, and pacing issues. Columbia Pictures also limited stateside press screenings, premiering "The Da Vinci Code" for the general public (and attending press) at the Cannes Film Festival. Why? Officially, to minimize criticism from the Catholic Church, but no less obviously, to limit negative reviews. It's a strategy usually associated with low-end genre films that studio execs want to hide from the paying public to maximize box office returns before the inevitable bad word-of-mouth.

After an initial scene centered on a stalk-and-chase inside the Louvre Museum, The Da Vinci Code introduces Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks), a professor of symbology at Harvard University in Paris on a book signing tour (his latest book explores the “sacred feminine” in mythology and history). Captain Bezu Fache (Jean Reno) calls in Langdon to the Louvre, due to his connection with the murdered man, Jacques Sauniere (Jean-Pierre Marielle). Before dying, Sauniere left several clues, including a cryptic message scrawled on the ground in marker. Enter Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou), a cryptologist working with the French police. She quickly signals Langdon that he’s in danger. Fache suspects that Langdon killed Sauniere. Sophie reveals that Sauniere was, in fact, her grandfather. They escape from the Louvre after collecting several clues and objects hidden in Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa (Langdon deciphers Sauniere’s message as an anagram), including a key shaped as a fleur-de-lis.

On the run, Langdon and Sophie first find themselves at an exclusive bank where the key provides them with another object, a cryptex (an antique, coded cylindrical object that can hold the answers to who and why Sauniere was killed). Fache and his men arrive at the bank, but not in time to apprehend Langdon and Sophie. Langdon suggests a temporary haven, the expansive private residence of an English academic, Sir Leigh Teabing (Ian McKellen). As Sophie listens, Teabing informs her of the church’s alternate, hidden history, clandestine societies, and a secret that Teabing believes will, if exposed, rock the foundations of the Catholic Church and Christianity. Initially skeptical, Langdon slowly begins to believe Teabing’s version of events.

In another part of the story world, Bishop Aringarosa (Alfred Molina), a leader of a super-secret, conspiratorial organization inside the Catholic Church, Opus Dei, sends Silas (Paul Bettany), a self-flagellating albino monk/assassin, to recover any evidence of this secret history and eliminate any witnesses or interested parties. Fache continues to track Langdon and Sophie, first following them to Teabing’s estate and later to London. Of course, the characters and storylines eventually converge, with the inevitable exposure of hidden motives, duplicity, reversals, revelations and explanations that confirm the secret history (and an heir to that history).

Anyone who's read the novel knows the secret that Opus Dei is desperate to keep hidden from the rest of the world. A bigger, unresolved question here is why audiences flock to adaptation of their favorite film, especially knowing every major and minor plot turn, including the secret at the center of the novel, as well as the respective fates of the major and minor characters. Adapting a novel for the big screen, especially a bestselling novel read by an estimated 60 million readers in 44 languages, is always a difficult proposition. The filmmakers have to balance satisfying fans of the novel that expect to see their favorite characters, subplots, and plot turns alchemically translated into cinematic form against the need to streamline the storyline to emphasize action and minimize the digressions typical of narrative fiction. A novel like The Da Vinci Code is all the more difficult because of the amount of historical detail and digressive speculation that fills its pages.

Sadly, either due to The Da Vinci Code’s inherent limitations or Akiva Goldsman and Ron Howard’s inability to “crack’ the novel and translate its strengths from page to screen, The Da Vinci Code plods along, from one clue or object to another, with multiple stops on exposition road. For an “action” thriller, The Da Vinci Code emphasizes dialogue over action, with Langdon relegated to a subsidiary role on several occasions (he’s a passenger during a car chase, and later, knocked out during a confrontation with another character, leaving other characters to save the day). As a character, Langdon barely has any backstory. We learn only that he’s an academic and that he’s claustrophobic (cue flashback to a traumatic childhood incident). Then there’s the patently ridiculous, and for the National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation (NOAH), offensive caricature of albinos as “freaks” and, of course, evil. According to the NOAH, the "evil albino" stereotype has been used in films 68 times since 1970. Point to the NOAH then.

While Goldsman and Howard try to cover long dialogue scenes with grainy flashbacks (often juxtaposing speaking characters against the flashback), it quickly grows tiresome through overuse (do we really need a recreation of 12th-century Crusaders storming Jerusalem?). Howard also uses what David Bordwell calls “intensified continuity,” fast cutting, constant camera movement (and cutting on movement) in practically every scene. With dialogue-heavy scene after dialogue-heavy scene, it’s easy to understand why the usually reliable Howard went in this direction. Unfortunately, style alone isn’t enough (it never is) to keep The Da Vinci Code from quickly devolving into an unengaging talkfest.

Acting wise, The Da Vinci Code’s producers made all the “safe” (read: unimaginative) choices, an Oscar-winning leading man in Tom Hanks (Forest Gump, Apollo 13, Castaway), a young, beautiful actress in Audrey Tautou (Amelie), and supporting turns by Jean Reno, Alfred Molina, Jürgen Prochnow, and Ian McKellen, all of whom give lackluster, uninspired performances. More importantly, Hanks and Tautou have zero chemistry. Hanks is probably ten years too old and Tautou is probably ten years too young (Tautou actually had to be convinced to audition for the role, a role she assumed would go to an older, more experienced actress). Setting aside Tautou’s age appropriateness, Tautou is also too slight in height and weight next to the much taller, heavier Hanks. And is Jean Reno the only available French actor capable of playing an English-speaking French police officer in an American-financed film? Apparently, the answer is an unqualified yes.

All the "controversy" generated by the Catholic Church's objections to "The Da Vinci Code" all essentially free publicity for a film adaptation that frankly doesn't need any (e.g., the semi-fictionalized depiction of Opus Dei as violence-prone ideologues, the alternate history of the Church’s founding, etc.). After all, a book that sells more than 60 million copies already has a built-in audience eager to see the novel translated into film (regardless of the quality of the film). At least for the opening weekend, "The Da Vinci Code" is practically critic proof. Howard and Goldsman may have just proven that "The Da Vinci Code" is better read at a leisurely pace than seen on a big screen in a bloated, two-and-a-half hour adaptation (or as one of my companions suggested, think of the film adaptation as a “visual companion” to the novel).

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=14534&reviewer=402
originally posted: 05/19/06 17:49:40
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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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