A murder inside the Louvre, and clues in Da Vinci paintings, lead to the discovery of a religious mystery protected by a secret society for two thousand years, which could shake the foundations of Christianity.
During the Cold War, an American lawyer is recruited to defend an arrested Soviet spy in court, and then help the CIA facilitate an exchange of the spy for the Soviet captured American U2 spy plane pilot, Francis Gary Powers.
Professor Robert Langdon is in Paris on business when he's summoned to The Louvre. A dead body has been found, setting Langdon off on an adventure as he attempts to unravel an ancient code and uncover the greatest mystery of all time. Written by
When Langdon and Sophie go into Westminster Abbey there are crowds of people, with police behind barriers and watching filming. See more »
Stop now. Tell me where it is.
You and your brethren possess what is not rightfully yours.
I... I don't know what you are talking about.
Is it a secret you will die for?
As you wish.
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Last Tuesday, when The Da Vinci Code premiered at the Cannes Film festival, it was met with a chilly reception from the reviewing elite. It has been called "plodding," "stale," and "uninspired," thus, dashing the hopes of many movie goers who were hoping to see one of their favorite novels brought to life by one of their favorite directors, and starring one of their favorite actors. Since I'm not a slave to snobby film reviewers, I went to go see it for myself despite the negative hype. And as the credits rolled at the end of the movie, I felt increasingly unsettled; not because of the quality of the movie, but because one question lingered in my head: What's not to like? Am I crazy for actually being entertained by what I just saw? How could the critics pan what I, and those around me, seemed to enjoy? Okay, so that's more than one question....
First, I have to qualify myself. I read the book and I LOVED it; couldn't put it down. I loved the history, the speculation, the riddles and puzzles, and the masterful blend of fact and fiction. Additionally, I'm not religious, although I was definitely familiar with Christian historical icons such as Jesus, John the Baptist, and Mary Magdelene before I read the book. I also happen to be a big fan of Tom Hanks, Ron Howard, and Ian McKellan.
Having said that, I went in prepared to like this movie, even though I had somewhat lowered my expectations based on the barrage of bad reviews. All of this proved to be a winning formula for me, apparently.
If you're like me and you loved the book and you like the artistic team that pursued making it into a movie, then you'll most likely come out satisfied. You won't mind what many critics have called "overly-long exposition" and historical flashbacks, because that's pretty much what the book consisted of. And in the book, it was absolutely engrossing! So, I personally didn't mind all of the explanation of history, symbols, etc.
Critics have also found fault with Tom Hanks and Audrey Tatou's portrayals of Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu (respectively), saying that they delivered flat performances. But once again, whoever read the book will remember that both of these characters weren't that dynamic on the written page, either. Of course, Sir Ian McKellan, with the juiciest role of Holy Grail scholar Sir Leigh Teabing, chews up the scenery every time he's shown on screen. Sir Leigh Teabing was also one of the richest characters in the book.
I think that the people who won't like this movie are people who didn't read the book, and are going into the theater expecting a regular movie, which it's not. It's an adaptation of a very wordy, detailed, twisting, speculative novel that blends fact and fiction in a devastatingly effective way, and it's easy to get lost while watching the movie if you don't already know where the story is going. Sure, Ron Howard uses digitized, grainy flashbacks of ancient pagan rituals and societies to move the narrative along and to keep the audience on point, but I can see how it could be overwhelming to those who only know the bare bones of the plot. However, those who found it fascinating in the book will find pleasure in seeing the visual accompaniment to what they've already read.
In short, you go see this movie (or read the book) for how it challenges popularly-held beliefs; not for its rich, engaging character development. It's a quest for the "truth", and in terms of the IDEAS expressed, they did a dag-blasted good job of translating those ideas onto the screen. Those who often complain that movies don't stay true to the books that they're based on will find comfort in the fact that Akiva Goldsman and Ron Howard have stayed incredibly close to the original text when translating it onto the screen. However, this will be to the dismay of those movie-goers who haven't read the book, and are therefore expecting a traditional action thriller with traditional action thriller dialogue.
If you go to RottenTomatoes.com, you'll see the huge disparity between what the critics have said, and what the users have said regarding this film. While the cumulative critics rating is a dismal 22%, the combined user rating is a 74%, which is way above average for the site. That should speak volumes to whoever is skeptical about seeing the movie because of the bad reviews.
The bottom line is that it's definitely a movie worth watching if only to see how the creative team behind it went about turning the best-selling novel into celluloid. It's also a treat to see something in popular culture challenge popular religious ideals so skillfully, even if only in the form of fiction.
My advice: go see for yourself.
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