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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 Dawn Taylor

"It's a Ron Howard film. Meaning, just good enough to not suck."
3 stars

The single most interesting thing about "The Da Vinci Code" is that it isn't nearly as awful as the early reviews would have you believe. Oh, it's not a great movie. It may not even be a good one. But having sat through 90-minute films that felt like an entire day spent in line at the DMV, I have to say that the two-and-a-half hours of "Da Vinci" passed for me without misery. So ... why all the vitriol?

Director Ron Howard has carved out a career for himself making films exactly like this one, over and over competent films that get the job done, telling a nicely paced story without any flash or notable artistry. I mean, I know that at some point I sat through "Ransom" and "Backdraft" and "Apollo 13" and "A Beautiful Mind," but I'll be damned if I could describe a single scene from any of those films they were neither good enough to rate space in my memory bank nor bad enough to have impressed anything groan-inducing on my brainmeats. They were ... okay. Similarly, Tom Hanks is an affable, watchable actor who tends to star in movies that I've despised (his work with Robert Zemeckis holds a special place on my hate list) but I have nothing against the man personally. Frankly, neither he nor Howard have done much since "Splash" that I've found particularly outstanding one way or the other.

Here, Howard and Hanks take on one of the most undeservingly praised novels in the history of American literature, a by-the-numbers treasure hunt potboiler with conspiracy-theory overtones by hack writer Dan Brown. With a script by one of Hollywood's worst screenwriters, Akiva Goldsman, it's to Howard's and Hanks' credit that the resulting movie is far more entertaining than the Tomatometer bears out.

It does, however, waste a stellar cast with obscene disregard for their talent, with the exception of Ian McKellan. As an expert in all things Holy Grail, Sir Ian plays the fellow that Hanks' symbology expert, Robert Langdon, runs to when a dead art curator leaves him with clues pointing at the location of that famed relic. In the course of his search, Langdon drags along the dead curator's pretty young cipherhound granddaughter (the marvelous Audrey Tautou, looking fashionably undernourished) on what's basically a 150-minute scavenger hunt. Notes contain cryptic poems, boxes have secret compartments, famous paintings offer symbolic meaning ... and at each step of the process, Hanks and Tautou and McKellan explain things to each other so that we, the audience, can follow along with what they're doing. It's all rather uninvolving as a thriller, but interesting in the same manner as doing a very easy crossword puzzle there are worse ways to kill time, and at least your brain's getting some exercise without any of it being especially taxing.

But then there's that waste of talent. Jean Reno, as a policeman with a hidden agenda, chases after Hanks and Tautou throughout the length of the film but never actually accomplishes anything, just sort of disappearing from the plot at the end. Paul Bettany has a juicy role as a crazy albino monk assassin with a religious-fanatic pain fetish, but he's also dealt with rather abruptly, his character ultimately being all promise with little payoff. And Hanks himself plays a character who's all reaction and no motivation beyond his profession, the only thing we know about him is that he's moderately claustrophobic due to a childhood incident. Frankly, a fear of elevators isn't much of a backstory for a film's protagonist, so really he's nothing more than a long-haired goof running from place to place and reading stuff off scraps of paper.

The film peaks whenever McKellan's on-screen, though. His mini-lecture on the Catholic Church's long-standing ambivalence about Mary Magdalene and Jesus's mortality is fascinating, and his bitchy relationship with his manservant is so delightful that it highlights the sketchy fabrication of the film's other characters. His is the King of Spades on which all of the cards in this wobbly construction depend, and it's mainly due to McKellan's performance that the entire thing doesn't collapse into a pile of paranoid absurdity he makes the whole silly enterprise believable.

Given the declamations by the Vatican regarding the film's scurrilous claims against the Catholic Church, it's kind of funny that the huge allowances made by Howard and Goldsman on their behalf are so blatant. The church claims that the film makes Opus Dei look like fanatics and killers yet characters in the film say, several times, that the baddies here aren't really Opus Dei, they're members of a nutjob, extremist offshoot of Opus Dei. It's a patently condescending sop thrown to the Catholics, but it's apparently not good enough for the Pope.

Ultimately, this is yet another movie that isn't nearly as good as its subject matter promises, but then neither was the awful book that it's based on. Nor is it the terrible piece of tripe that some reviewers have dubbed it. It's ... well, it's a Ron Howard film. It does the job, it doesn't suck, and two days after you've seen it you'll have trouble remembering a single detail. It's the movie equivalent of a Sudoku puzzle, and only you can decide if that's worth the price of movie ticket.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=14534&reviewer=413
originally posted: 05/22/06 07:56:58
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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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