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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 William Goss

"The Deciph-Err of Their Ways"
2 stars

Director Ron Howard and writer Akiva Goldsman adapt Dan Brown’s relentlessly pandering and therefore ridiculously popular mystery, 'The Da Vinci Code,' and craft such a by-the-numbers thriller that they spend its bloated running time constantly poking you in the shoulder, shoving the crayon in your face, and guiding your hand all along the way. Do they stay inside the lines? Yeah. Do they use the right colors? Sure. Yet Howard, Goldsman, and the cast lack the shading and detail that Brown used to bring it alive, and frankly, the big picture just isn’t that fascinating to begin with.

One could argue that Howard and Goldsman have made an authentic adaptation, in the sense that fans of the novel will eat it up, while its detractors will remain equally unimpressed with the material. Brown, although a weak writer, knows how to tell a story well enough to keep page after page of self-righteous hokum turning, and the book’s appeal is that it is heady without being actually intelligent. The film takes the main plot – a renowned American symbologist, Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks), finds himself caught up in a vast conspiracy concerning the Holy Grail – and makes it more contrived than clever, amplifying the flaws via feeble filmmaking.

As with last year’s Rent, seeing a story adapted on film could serve to remind one that they wouldn’t have bothered to see it on stage (or page) in the first place, and that a movie version just isn’t going to improve matters. The book version is glossy enough to maintain some momentum, yet the film turns out to be downright stale, going through the plot without interest or urgency, with the critical importance of the proceedings regularly reiterated with lines like "We are in the middle of a war...to protect a secret so powerful that, if revealed, would devastate the very foundations of mankind." For a tale tackling "the biggest cover-up in human history," it sure doesn't feel like it.

The plot kicks off as the curator of the Louvre is shot by Silas (Paul Bettany), an albino assassin for Opus Dei, a clandestine Catholic sect searching for the Grail. Fortunately, the old man has enough vitality left in him to leave behind an elaborate arrangement of clues, including a request for Langdon’s attention, before finally expiring. As it turns out, Langdon happens to be in Paris for business and is summoned by the leery police captain (Jean Reno) to the scene. However, government cryptographer Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou) alerts him to the magnitude of the mystery, and off they go across Europe, running to clues and from the authorities. Goldsman can’t bring himself to trim any of the excess that Brown couldn’t cut from his novel, so the useless subplot concerning Silas’s superior (Alfred Molina) keeps the story sluggish for about an hour until the leads’ visit to an elderly historian (Ian McKellen) helps pick up the pace. This doesn’t help the self-serious tone that fails to work in the film’s favor, playing more like a book on screen than a genuine movie, feeling literary when it should seem cinematic. I never thought I would say this, but I would rather be watching National Treasure. At least that thing moved.

This movie feels like Hollywood scrap that just about any schmuck could have directed, and Howard is so lacking in directorial individuality that, had any name replaced his on the credits short of Alan Smithee or Uwe Boll, no one would have doubted it for a moment. Although he has proven himself capable with less frantic fare (Apollo 13, Cinderella Man), Opie almost seems overwhelmed with condensing a hit novel, and while he squeezes all the plot in, he eliminates any liveliness in the process. Despite such persistent narrative action, there is simply no gravity or pressure that an alleged thriller requires. When puzzles are solved or lives are endangered, it feels dreadfully tedious, and the problem solving becomes progressively more repetitive and condescending as it unravels over a taxing running time. Supposedly gifted individuals speak aloud, making sure to narrate their explanations in the most obvious terms while Howard employs his trick from A Beautiful Mind with illuminated letters instead of intelligent logic that doesn’t patronize its audience. To boot, he includes rampant flashbacks that add precious little outside of length, reduces an early car chase to a frustratingly unexciting endeavor, and has Langdon go claustrophobic on cue instead of substantially developing him as the protagonist. Alas, all work and no play ultimately makes Da Vinci a dull boy.

Hanks contributes quite possibly the single weakest work of his entire career, portraying Langdon with such a deep-seated disinterest that damn near requires an effort that only a two-time Oscar winner could misdirect. As the central lead, he exists as a placeholder for other characters to interact with and incidents to occur around, even more so than in the novel. By comparison, Tautou and Reno seem positively conscious, if merely adequate. Then again, it’s not like the latter even tries to (or even can) redeem himself for The Pink Panther. Molina also suits his role, however brief and ultimately extraneous it may be. Despite being burdened with a hearty amount of exposition, the majority of the zingers are wisely given to McKellen, who mercifully brings a sincere energy that his colleagues simply cannot muster (I believe it’s called acting). That leaves the role of the albino assassin, a menacing creep who transforms into quite the oddball in front of the camera. In a role that would be hard for anyone to pull off, Bettany fails to elicit the essential intimidation and compassion needed for Silas to work as a villain. Let’s put it this way: an undeniable highlight comes when Bettany assaults a nun, quite a sight for bored eyes. The scene is supposed to be one of grave seriousness, but eyes can only roll so far back (oh, and just wait until Hanks declares that he needs to find a library). The ensemble, save for McKellen, fails to convince viewers to swallow the story with a straight face, nor can they just surrender to camp, making for a strikingly dull result and the farthest thing from thrilling or intriguing.

During one of several protracted climaxes, Langdon assures Sophie that “the only thing that matters is what you believe.” Well, I believe what I see, and for two and a half hours, what I saw was less a mediocre mystery and more a sheer product of commercial obligation. This was a film someone, anyone had to make simply because somebody, everybody would pay to see before it shuffled loose from memory within a week or so. With such an overblown cultural phenomenon, it nearly seems futile to offer up a discouraging review. Try as I may, "so dark the con of man” will nonetheless become “so rich the studio of Sony,” so let us bow our heads in prayer and shake them in pity.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=14534&reviewer=409
originally posted: 05/21/06 18:37:36
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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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