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Overall Rating
2.49

Awesome: 4.25%
Worth A Look: 12.26%
Just Average: 27.83%
Pretty Crappy39.15%
Sucks: 16.51%

19 reviews, 98 user ratings


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Da Vinci Code, The
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by Peter Sobczynski

"I Want A Grail Just Like the Grail That Married You-Know-Who!"
2 stars

As I tend to be a firm believer in the theory that the literary quality of any given book is usually in inverse proportion to the number of people that you see reading it on the subway on any given day, I have never quite gotten around to reading all of Dan Brown’s insanely popular novel “The Da Vinci Code.” I did make an attempt at it a couple of years ago but his unspeakable prose stylings were so grotesque–he may go down as the only author in the history of letters whose work could be described as sub-Clive Cussler–that I gave up about fifty pages in and returned it to the library under the cover of darkness so that I wouldn’t be recognized while carrying such a thing. However, it appears that this particular viewpoint is one firmly in the minority as the book has sold millions of copies and inspired an entire industry of spin-offs, cash-ins and knock-offs that doesn’t appear to be ending anytime in the foreseeable future.

Based on such an admission, many of you would probably assume that I went into the film adaptation of “The Da Vinci Code” with knives unsheathed and ready to draw blood. However, I kind of had a vague hope that the film might actually turn out to be reasonably entertaining after all–and not just because it offered a chance to gape at the utterly adorable Audrey Tautou for a couple of hours. No, my vague enthusiasm stemmed from the fact that awful books have, often as not, inspired reasonably entertaining films when they have been produced by people who are able to transform and transcend the material in a way that didn’t quite occur on the page. “The Godfather,” for example, was a modestly entertaining potboiler that Francis Coppola turned into one of the greatest works of the 20th century. In print, “The Bridges of Madison County” was essentially the longest greeting card ever written but Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep brought a recognizable humanity to the story that made it a more than worthy tearjerker. In perhaps the most notable example, Steven Spielberg took Peter Benchley’s hideous novel “Jaws,” threw out all the pointless subplots in order to focus on the man-versus-shark battle and turned it into one of the most entertaining films ever made. If those books could be transmogrified into great works of cinema, surely even the likes of Dan Brown might have a chance.

Of course, those films had the likes of Coppola, Eastwood and Spielberg behind them while “The Da Vinci Code” has been entrusted to none other than Ron Howard, a once-promising filmmaker (back in the days of “Night Shift” and “Splash”) who has grown increasingly staid and formulaic over the years. From the standpoint of Sony Pictures, the choice makes sense–he is the kind of director who will cheerfully bring the book to the screen without embroidering it in a way that might upset its legions of fans–but from an artistic standpoint, it was a mistake because he doesn’t bring any life or juice to the proceedings and that, not the questionable literary merits of the source material, is what does the film in. Even those who hated the book would usually admit that it was a relatively exciting and fast-paced read–a sensible choice because it didn’t leave readers a chance to realize how silly the story was getting. That breathless sense of pacing is completely absent here and the result is a film that contains the same silly story as the book but which now takes an agonizing 150 minutes to do so.

The story, for those of you who have yet to read it, opens with a curator at the Louvre being stalked and killed through the darkened halls of the museum by Silas (Paul Bettany), a psychotic albino monk with a penchant for self-flagellation. Before dying, the curator scribbles out a series of symbols and words, in his own blood, that mention the name of Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks), a professor of symbology from Harvard who is, like most Harvard professors of symbology, in the midst of a wildly popular lecture tour. Langdon is summoned to the museum by lead investigator Captain Fache (Jean Reno) to explain the symbols and what they mean. As it turns out, Fache suspects Langdon, who was supposed to meet the murdered man earlier that day, of being the killer but before he can arrest him, Langdon escapes with the help of winsome police cryptologist Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou), who was the curator’s estranged granddaughter and who wants Langdon’s help in deciphering clues that might explain why he was killed. Over the space of 24 hours, they uncover what appears to be a massive conspiracy and cover-up that would, if revealed, shake the very foundations of Christianity itself–without giving too much away, I can safely and arcanely indicate that it suggests that “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” was basically a big fib and that Monica Bellucci could now be legitimately described as a grail-shaped object.

In other words, “The Da Vinci Code” has all the ingredients for a luridly entertaining thrill ride in the hands of the right director–imagine what Ken Russell might have done with this material in his heyday?–but Howard and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman have somehow conspired to suck all the life and juice out of the story. Everything is done in such measured and restrained tones, no doubt out of fear of offending those folks who get their noses bent out of joint at awkwardly written works of fiction, that there is no real sense of excitement or discovery in the vast majority of the scenes–even the car chase through the streets of Paris is put together in the most oddly impersonal manner possible. And even though there is a compressed time element to virtually all the proceedings–besides the 24-hour frame, every other scene involves someone having to figure something out quickly before all is lost–there is no real sense of tension on display. Instead, the film moves at the kind of stilted pace that is deadly for a film like this since it allows the more cynical viewers to discover just how awkwardly put together the storyline really is.

Howard does bring one good idea to the film by casting Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou, two of the most cheerful and likable actors working today, in the roles of Robert and Sophie so that their own personal charm and charisma would make up for their characters lack of same. Sadly, it doesn’t quite work out because the two never quite develop any kind of on-screen rapport–every scene they share (which is virtually all of them) feels as if it is the very first time that the two of them have ever met. As a result, we are left with the sight of two winning personalities doing little more than explaining the plot to each other in dialogue that is almost literally unspeakable (and since Tautou’s grasp of English isn’t that strong yet, too many of her lines wind up getting garbled in the process). There are other well-known actors here–besides those mentioned, the film also finds room for Jurgen Prochnow and Alfred Molina (though those hoping for a cameo by Clint Howard as the pope will go away disappointed)–but they are mostly used for window dressing and little more. The only actor who comes off well here is Ian McKellan, who brings some much-needed juice to the proceedings as a Holy Grail expert who gets to explain the central mystery to our heros and the audience–like the rest of the writing here, it is little more than gibberish but he attacks it with an energy and glee that is sorely lacking elsewhere.

Will fans of the book enjoy “The Da Vinci Code”? Probably–if all they are looking for is a live-action translation of the book and nothing more. However, those who come to it without having read the book are likely to walk away from it wondering what all the fuss is all about. It isn’t a particularly awful film so much as it is a thoroughly mediocre one–that, and not its various theories about the history of Christianity, is by far the biggest sin on display here.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=14534&reviewer=389
originally posted: 05/19/06 00:26:21
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User Comments

9/12/17 morris campbell silly crap 1 stars
10/11/13 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
4/29/09 Misha The worst movie T.Hanks ever played in. Why did he have to do it anyways? 1 stars
1/16/09 Aesop Skip the book; it's cheaper to read used baby diapers, and the smell is fainter. 1 stars
10/25/08 Shaun Wallner This movie stinks!! 2 stars
10/03/08 arthur daley tedious melodrama 1 stars
9/07/08 Samantha Pruitt inredibly predicatble, still fun though 3 stars
5/14/08 PAUL SHORTT IN A WORD - ABHORRENT 1 stars
2/24/08 SamanthaP the clue finding was cool, but it was so obvious what was gonna happen though. 3 stars
10/15/07 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
8/22/07 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
4/12/07 Anikka Read the book...much better 1 stars
2/17/07 David Pollastrini the bad hair day code 4 stars
2/11/07 Austin Wertman To tell ya the truth, I really liked it 4 stars
1/17/07 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
12/28/06 Jennifer Raven I liked the "history" to it. acting was kind of eh, but liked it 3 stars
12/09/06 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
11/24/06 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
7/12/06 Agent Sands OK, so it's good. Now can everyone please shut the fuck up about it? 4 stars
7/07/06 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
6/26/06 Kimberly Certainly not the thriller it is made out to be. 3 stars
6/12/06 Michael Howard proves yet again why he isn't remembered at Oscar time. 2 stars
6/11/06 Monday Morning An intriguing flick not for those with short attention spans. Could be edited a bit. 4 stars
6/08/06 Beatriz it was an interesting movie apart from the controversy it has received 4 stars
6/06/06 Raven blasphemous? lol 5 stars
6/06/06 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
6/02/06 Rowsdower Better than your average thriller. Even if it's junk history, it's fun junk history. 4 stars
6/02/06 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
6/01/06 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
5/30/06 daveyt film dragged monotonously, the booked described the story better in words 2 stars
5/30/06 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
5/29/06 Scott Trash! They should have paid ME to suffer through this turkey!!! 1 stars
5/29/06 Jeff Withrow The film was good - the book was great, 4 stars
5/29/06 San Lamar its aiight 3 stars
5/29/06 millersxing Tautou and Hanks made solid choices, but neither transcends his or her role. 3 stars
5/29/06 Sean D Overhyped complete fucking shit 1 stars
5/29/06 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
5/28/06 Troy M. Grzych The pieces of the puzzle come together pretty entertainly, but there is no surprises. 4 stars
5/28/06 Charlene Javier Completely disappointing. 2 stars
5/28/06 Anthony Feor Disapointing, If you want a movie where you have to think, think twice about seeing this. 3 stars
5/27/06 ad youll be better off watching discovery channel 2 stars
5/26/06 Paterfam001@yahoo.ca Todd Laplace: it's penchant and highly-coiffed. 3 stars
5/25/06 john bale A faithful adaption of the novel, a clever but pedestrian thriller for the Thinking Man. 4 stars
5/25/06 captain craig Howard proves more is certainly NOT better 2 stars
5/25/06 dr.mendonca.correia@oninet.pt Pasolini, with 0.0000001% of this trash's budget, made the great "St. Matthew's Gospel"!... 1 stars
5/25/06 jcjs fine acting, interesting plot but something lacking.. i like the idea Jesus had manly sex 4 stars
5/25/06 Becki D I don't think the subject matter came across on screen as well as it does in the novel. 3 stars
5/24/06 Mase This is the storry that has captivated so many readers!! Not bad but little to recommend. 3 stars
5/24/06 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
5/23/06 Anthony Feor A disapointing movie with meaning 3 stars
5/23/06 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
5/22/06 Josh Standlee Not as good as I thought it would be. 3 stars
5/22/06 Maricel Padilla No Comment 3 stars
5/22/06 John Shannon Excellent adaptation. It captured the feel of the book perfectly. 5 stars
5/22/06 Frenzy Not so bad at all 4 stars
5/22/06 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
5/21/06 L. Mahaffey fiction and fiction it is! 1 stars
5/21/06 Dave Hey, i thought it was pretty good, and Tautou great. Guess I wouldn't make a good critic. 4 stars
5/21/06 Pokejedservo An intresting though not flawless film, Ian McKellan easily stole the show though. 4 stars
5/21/06 Aaron Valdes I enjoyed. It had terrific elements. 5 stars
5/21/06 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
5/20/06 doug yawn 2 stars
5/20/06 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
5/19/06 Marcia Zarwetten-Grassi Whether church is right or wrong, it's troubling that some would impose a Jesus dynasty! 4 stars
5/19/06 alien assassin The most overhyped movie event of the decade...Makes "Phantom Menace" look like LOTR 2 stars
5/19/06 San Lamar didnt live up to expectation 3 stars
5/19/06 Illumine Duh . . . 1 stars
5/19/06 Leo ZZZzzzzzzz-Boreing 1 stars
5/19/06 family medicine intern outstanding 5 stars
5/18/06 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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