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The Da Vinci Code (SE)
DVD disk
Nov 13, 2006 By: Quigles
The Da Vinci Code (SE) order
Director:
Ron Howard

Actors:
Tom Hanks
Audrey Tautou
Ian McKellen

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A dull professor with a bad haircut tries to figure out the mystery behind a secret society that has been hidden for two thousand years.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I don't think a single movie has ever made me feel such a flurry of negative emotions as THE DA VINCI CODE. Upon my first viewing experience, I left the theater exhausted, disappointed, and extremely frustrated. I was drained of not only my time and money, but also, it seems, my reasoning abilities... For a week straight, all I could do was wonder just how the hell they screwed such a promising movie up so badly? You've got a multitude of wonderful actors, a talented director, a solid and intriguing premise, and a budget through the roof... what the hell else do you need?

...a soul maybe?

Mind you, I've never read the book (as hard as that may be to believe), so I don't really have anything to compare to. But even so, I sat down with literally zero expectations, and still came out disappointed. The only reason I even went to see it was because my friends (who did read the book) wanted to... they ended up hating it even more than I did. I think the main problem lies in how bland the film's revelations are. We'll be introduced to a certain puzzle or question, and then the actors will say, "I don't know. I don't know what it means. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WHAT'S THE ANSWER?!?" (Except just a tad less extreme...)

*cue long dramatic pause*

After about a minute or so, Tom Hanks (who bores to tears as Prof. Langdon - sad, but true) stands up with this semi-blas/semi-intense look on his face and says, "...wait a minute... Wait a minute. I know this. It's [insert incredible discovery here]. Of course, it's all so clear now." The movie continues on like this from scene to scene, never once actually explaining to the audience what the hell is going on. Not that it matters, since the information is irrelevant anyway - the point is that the characters have found out some new secret, and it's all just a way to progress the story to the next even more amazing secret. 2 and a half grueling hours later, the film finally finishes. Watching the movie again on DVD, instead of inspiring anger and frustration, the ending made me happy and relieved. It was actually over; I'd gotten through THE DA VINCI CODE twice. Never before had I felt so accomplished in life.

As far as positives go, well, there aren't many. Almost everybody involved in this dull mystery/thriller(?) are at their worst. Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou (who I normally love) play terribly uninteresting characters, and do so with little to no flair. Their development throughout the story feels predictable and forced (like with the claustrophobia, or the secretive past). I didn't care about them, and didn't enjoy watching them on screen. Then we have Jean Reno and Alfred Molina, neither of whom inspires any kind of interest with their small roles. The only two people who come out unscathed are the very talented Sir Ian McKellen and Paul Bettany, but even then, the latter actor is forced to play an annoying, bothersome character.

Once you get past the acting, you still have the piss-poor direction to contend with... Ron, what happened? I know some people find his work standard, melodramatic, etc., but until now, I never have. In THE DA VINCI CODE, he literally reuses stylistic techniques from A BEAUTIFUL MIND. It's not just that though - all of the direction is bland, and very standard. There's this drawn-out flashback sequences that feel very contrived, and that grainy style applied to them simply looks cheesy. And I'm not sure whose idea this was, but there was even a pathetic car chase thrown in for good measure. I felt like I was watching not so much a movie, but a commercialistic Hollywood necessity - somebody wrote a book that made a lot of money, and the movie industry wanted to get in on it. Then again, I guess half the movies out there right now are like this. Guess I'll just have to keep waiting for something new and original... *sigh* I won't hold my breath.
THE EXTRAS
For those people who enjoyed the film enough to buy it, there are two discs for you to enjoy (the first housing simply the movie, and the second designated entirely to featurettes). Also included are a glossy slipcover and a promotional insert (featuring items from the movie available for you to buy).

All of the making-of segments are pretty much of the same caliber, so I'll just explain the gist of what they're about...

First Day On The Set With Ron Howard (2:08): This extra is pretty much worthless, consisting only of Ron Howard talking about how great his job is.

A Discussion With Dan Brown (4:46): An overly short interview with the novel's author. There are a few interesting tidbits worth listening to, but this should've been longer and more in-depth.

A Portrait Of Langdon (7:12): Ron Howard discusses how he chose Tom Hanks for the role, and then Hanks chirps in about his appreciation for the book, etc. I'm not fond of featurettes that basically just praise the actors, so I found this boring.

Who Is Sophie Neveu? (6:52): Basically the same as above, except concerning Audrey Tautou.

Unusual Suspects (17:51): This extra goes into detail about the movie's characters, and how each one of them is considered to be a suspect.

Magical Places (15:51): This featurette explains the importance of the film's many notable locations and their influence on the story.

Close-Up On Mona Lisa (6:30): Cast/crew give some insight into their feelings concerning Da Vinci's most famous work, and Howard explains why it was chosen as the main marketing symbol for the film.

Filmmakers Journey Part One (24:33): A slightly longer featurette that covers various aspects of the film's production, starting with the buzz that erupted when the press found out it was being made. The rest of the time is devoted to showing the start of the production, the changes from the book to the film, etc.

Filmmakers Journey Part Two (12:13): This second segment of the 2-part making of goes into detail on Ron Howard's style of directing, and how various cast and crew members worked together to make sure the spirit of the book was kept intact.

The Codes Of The Da Vinci Code (5:26): A nifty featurette that goes over various secrets that Ron Howard and Dan Brown threw into the film. One by one scenes are shown, paused, and the hidden meanings explained. Very cool.

The Music Of The Da Vinci Code (2:54): Obviously, this featurette is all about the movie's score, which I thought was one of the more noteworthy aspects of the film's production.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
According to my friends, the reason the book works so well is because it manages to keep you interested while educating you about fascinating historical facts, and then making you feel really smart while doing so. I can't confirm that myself, but I can confirm that this is exactly what the film version of THE DA VINCI CODE does not do. I wasn't interested in the film, I barely learned anything new, and I especially didn't feel smart while watching. I just felt bored. Really, really bored. Rent NATIONAL TREASURE instead - it might not be as "intelligent", but at least it's entertaining.
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