Release Date: May 19th, 2006
Producer: Dan Brown
Director: Ron Howard
Main Actor/Actress: Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Ian MacKellan
IMDB Link: The DaVinci Code
Concept/Plot: 3 / 5
Cinematography: 4 / 5
Acting: 4 / 5
Music:4 / 5
Running time: 149 min
Before I went to see the DaVinci Code I read the book. I always mean to read the book before the movie if the subject matter seems to be interesting, but like the Godfather, I regretted reading the book first. In both cases the book detracted from the film for me. Contrary to popular belief, movies can be better than the original book. Well I will try to keep the movie and the book separate, since I don’t think it is fair to compare the two. The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown is badly written, with a historically inaccurate sensationalist plot, that is really a veiled criticism of the Catholic Church, repeating the same old (and mostly inaccurate) criticisms. I needn’t go any further into that. Fortunately, Ron Howard is a better film maker than Brown is a novelist. I’ll try to keep this to a discussion of the film.
Considering the amount of press the book and film have received, I think most are familiar with the basic premise of both. Basically there is a secret, probably the most explosive secret in all of Western Civilization that has been covered up by the Catholic Church since the time of Christ. I won’t tell you what the secret is, in case you don’t know, but it has managed to create quite a furor (and I still can’t figure out why after reading the book and watching the film). Well the film starts with a murder in the Louvre. The main character, Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is immediately dragged into the investigation and quickly realizes that this crime is more than just a simple murder. The clues left by the victim lead Langdon, joined by Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou, the best thing to come out of France since the Enlightenment) on an adventure across France and Britain pursued all the while by the police and the Catholic Church. It is a desperate race to solve the code before it is lost forever, with many famous pieces of art serving as clues along the way.
It is an interesting premise, but the execution can be spotty at times. Since the movie follows the book fairly closely, it is more the book’s fault for inaccuracies, but oddly the filmmakers decided to correct some of the incorrect facts and figures. I found that make the plot more believable, but some of the basic history was still wrong. That for me takes away from the plausibility of the premise. Otherwise, the plot went along at a breakneck pace (it all takes place within 24 hours) without any snags. The only part was when Langdon makes the final revelation to Neveu, the whole scene is positively laughable, considering what is being said and Neveu’s reaction.
The motivations of the characters were a bit more fleshed out in the film, making their actions fairly believable. Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou were all solid in their roles, and the supporting cast all performed admirably in their roles. Ian MacKellan was probably the standout, since he seemed to be positively having fun in his role. No career defining roles here though.
The cinematography was quite nice; with almost all of the movie being filmed on location and what wasn’t was well replicated. The film had a number of neat flashbacks that were well used to illustrate a historical or personal point being made by the characters. The cinematography had a “rapid” quality to it that well suited a thriller. Hans Zimmer’s score alternated between epic and religious accentuating the scenes well. But when has Zimmer ever done a bad score?
Overall the DaVinci Code is an entertaining film. You shouldn’t expect it to be anymore stimulating than the book is, but it is fun, preposterous plot and all. The acting and technique are solid and there are no glaring plot holes, only historical inaccuracies. Plus there were a number of protestors outside the theatre with a large sign threatening hellfire to moviegoers, sacrilege of a film, etc. I usually don’t get heckled when I go to see a movie so I’ll add points for the new experience. But frankly the secret is hardly earth shattering, or terribly believable.
Good Stuff: Entertaining and professionally done. Interesting premise.
Bad Stuff: Historical inaccurate, and sometimes preposterous plot.