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First off, I'd just like to say that this movie is based on a fictional
story. FICTION. Why people need to express hatred over this because of
their religious beliefs is so mind-boggling. No one is saying that
Christianity is wrong, and that this story is right. The book is
classified as FICTION, not THEOLOGY! I should also note that my
extremely religious Christian friends don't find this movie at all
"disturbing" or "wrong". The fact is that if you believe in something,
nothing -- including a movie, or story -- should be able to deter you
from that belief. If you feel threatened by this movie or any other
story like this, you have serious problems regarding the foundations in
which you believe.
Now, to the review... I'm not here to give you any spoilers or story info, since that's all been done in the other reviews.
I have never read the book. I went to see the movie with my boyfriend, who read the book recently, and some friends (one of whom has read the book at least twice, and is so into the story that he has researched the symbols and meanings thoroughly and participates in Da Vinci Code games, forums, etc). So we actually had at least 3 differing perspectives here.
I really loved the film. Having no story to compare it to, I didn't feel like I had to have read the book to understand the story. Nothing felt missing or incomplete. I came out of the theater ready to add this list to my favorites, and wanting to read the book to compare it to the movie.
My boyfriend also thought the film was great. He said they did a great job adapting the book to film, and although not everything was there, they did the best that they could with the time they had, and he was impressed.
My friend was so excited throughout the movie, he kept wanting to talk to us about it. He pointed out some things from the book that weren't there as well, but he understood it couldn't all be there. He also said that watching the film put a new perspective for him on the movie, since he imagined things looking and feeling different in his head. Seeing the movie allowed him to look at it differently, which made it exciting all over again.
So, in summary, this seems to be a great movie no matter how deep you are into the Da Vinci Code. I normally wait for movies to go on DVD to rent, but this is one that I'd recommend you see in the theater... the atmosphere makes it more fun and also you can talk about this with others after seeing it, instead of catching up to everyone later and possibly getting spoilers before you watch. Again, I highly recommend this movie! A+
I can't say I was blown away by The Da Vinci Code - as is often the case, the book was far superior. I generally like Tom Hanks in almost all his roles, however I found that I had such a pre-conception of what Robert Langdon should be, that it took me about half an hour to get used to Hanks occupying this character. Once I settled into it though - it was a thoroughly enjoyable, occasionally slow moving thriller. Having read the book, I did have a knowledge of the various groups and factions involved - I'm not sure how someone who hasn't read the book will fair though. The casting of the movie is surely one of it's stronger points - Paul Bettany is almost unrecognisable and plays the menacing single minded Silas to utter perfection. Sir Ian McKellan too, it totally fantastic, and really steals most scene's he appears in. He delivers some great one liners too - a real character actor playing a real character. Audrey Tautou is as we have come to expect, just lovely, and who else could have played Bezu Fache - Jean Reno was made for the role. As you'd expect from a Ron Howard Production, there is a good amount of cheese, especially towards the end. Langdon's "Godspeed" caused me to awake in the night sweating! I am a fairly harsh marker on the IMDb, so don't be put off by a 6 out of 10 - I did enjoy the movie, but my anticipation was so great with this film, that it could never live up to my expectation.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
While he may not be the world's greatest writer, Dan Brown is an
excellent storyteller, as judged by the millions of people who have
read and enjoyed "The Da Vinci Code" - me included. So I was keenly
anticipating the release of this movie, partly because I enjoyed the
book and also because a number of scenes were shot in Lincoln
Cathedral, which is my birthplace.
First the good points. Ron Howard has chosen some great locations, and produced a sumptuously photographed film, with a thought-provoking, well-paced storyline which sticks pretty faithfully to the book. For me, Silas (Paul Bettany) is the strongest character in the film, graphically portrayed as a faithful servant of Opus Dei. His role is certainly one heck of a contrast with his recent leading role in Wimbledon!
Unfortunately, for me those good points are outweighed by a wooden dialogue which poor old Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou have virtually no hope of making anything meaningful from. There is simply no chemistry between the 2 leading characters and some of their lines made me cringe because they were so embarrassingly weak. At no point did I feel involved in what should be a powerful and emotional story; it simply failed to engross me in any way. Bored is a strong word, but I was verging on it by the end.
In summary, disappointing.
This movie is becoming as controversial as the book. Since the day it
was announced that it's gonna be made, there were protests against it
being done, and it has escalated to calls for boycotting, or banning
the movie altogether. I'll not waste time and go into its
controversies, nor discuss what's real and what's not. Neither will I
explain in detail the plot, as I believe most of you readers would
already have some vague idea of what it's about, or have read the book,
since it's on the bestsellers list for months.
Rather, I'll evaluate the movie as it is, on how well it entertains. Those who wish to preach in my comment box, prepare to have those comments deleted, at my discretion. This is the stand I shall take, that this movie is entirely fictional, based on events which are used loosely, for the sole purpose of weaving a storyline that tries to be believable. I think some have already mentioned it's too successful in doing that, and may mislead people into thinking its theories presented, are real. However, don't take it too seriously, and if you wish to, use another proper platform to debunk the myths, not my movie review blog.
The structure of the movie, is exactly the same as the book. There is no change to the ending, despite some rumours that it will be different. Naturally, some of the detailed explanation that's given in the book, especially many three-way dialogue between Sophie- Robert-Leigh, have to be summarized in order to pace this movie into 2 1/2 hours. Herein lies the challenges. For those who've read the book, the movie offers nothing new, other than the gratification of watching events and characters play out on the big screen. For those who haven't read the book, the movie version should be decent enough to make you want to pick up the novel and read more into the controversial theories explained.
However, having being familiar with the plot and how the story unfolds, red herrings, character motivations, twists and all, it may leave those who've read the novel, a page-turner in every sense of the word, a bit wanting, that the pace could've been improved. Undoubtedly the pacing sags when it's time for some dialogue heavy moments, but I suppose that is unavoidable when you're revisiting material.
However, its presentation of these controversial dialogue moments coupled with special effects, that will make you go wow. Truly, the technique is nothing original, and some of the visuals used looked like Return of the King and Kingdom of Heaven rejects, but as a whole, combined with the narrative, it helps to present the controversies in a more palatable manner.
Casting, I felt, was spot on. Tom Hanks makes Robert Langdon pretty accessible, given Hanks' everyman demeanor, and Audrey Tautou makes a believable Sophie Neveu. Ian McKellen, probably THE actor with 2 summer blockbusters back to back (the other being X- Men 3), is convincing as the rich grail hunter Sir Leigh Teabing. Paul Bettany is chilling as the albino killer Silas, and Jean Reno and Alfred Molina round up the star studded cast as the detective Captain Fache and Bishop Aringarosa.
Much is said about the haunting soundtrack, but as far as I'm aware, there's nothing scary about it. Silas, in his scene of self-cleansing, is horrid enough though, as are some scenes of unexpected on screen violence that hit like a sack of potatoes falling from the sky.
In the end, in spite of all the controversies, perhaps Robert Langdon's line is poignant - if given a chance, would you rather destroy faith, or renew it? The book and the movie have provided an opportunity for the faith to renew itself, to debunk the myths and theories (which were developed loosely to make the story flow of course), and to generally point the curious to the direction and light the faith wants to show.
Otherwise, this Ron Howard movie makes a good summer popcorn flick, with the usual thrills and spills you'd come to expect with its superb production values.
Okay, let me start off by saying that I absolutely loved the book - it had me hooked more than Harry Potter - and that's saying something (and no I'm not a 10 year old child)! After hearing about the critics' mainly negative views of the film, I approached it without high expectations, and for that, I was rewarded. What I got was an action-packed film that didn't let up until the dying minutes. This film is incredibly faithful to the book (I'm looking at you, Girl With a Pearl Earring!!) to the point where hardly anything is left out, and only minor things have been changed. The visuals are stunning, the acting of Hanks and Tautou is great - and contrary to certain critics opinions - I felt the emotional connection between them. As always, McKlellan is fun to watch, effortlessly bringing Teabing to life, and Reno suffices as Fache. Bettany is fantastic as Silas. The musical score was as good as the visual look of the film - it paired perfectly with the storytelling. Overall, I left the cinema feeling satisfied, because a great book had been turned into a really good film. Approach this film with little expectation, and you will enjoy the ride. Bravo Ron Howard, for doing such a good job.
From the way the critics have gone after "The Da Vinci Code," you'd
think that Ron Howard himself had been jealously guarding the location
of the Holy Grail all these years and was just now revealing it to all
the world for his own nefarious (i.e. commercial) purposes. Actually,
despite all the critical hostility and rancor, this turns out to be a
reasonably entertaining adaptation of a reasonably entertaining novel,
far from a classic or a work of art, but hardly the pile of cinematic
refuse so many of the reviewers have led us to believe it is.
As a work of history, the novel is a passel of nonsense, and only those with a bent towards conspiracy theory overload would be foolish enough to believe a minute of it. But as a work of imaginative fiction, "The Da Vinci Code" certainly gives its audience the neck-twisting workout they've paid good money to receive.
It would be pointless to reiterate the plot of a novel that has probably had the biggest readership of any literary work since "Gone With the Wind." Suffice it to say that a mysterious murder in the Louvre sends a Harvard symbologist and the dead man's granddaughter on a clue-driven search for the famed Holy Grail. Along the way, the two uncover a grand conspiracy on the part of a renegade Catholic order to protect a secret that, if it were revealed, could shake the whole of Western civilization down to its very foundations.
Despite the phenomenal - one is tempted to say "unprecedented" - commercial success of his work, Dan Brown is no great shakes as a writer; his characters are, almost without exception, drab and two-dimensional, and his dialogue, when it isn't being overly explicit in pouring out explanations, sounds like it was written by a first-year student in a Writer's 101 workshop. But the one undeniable talent Brown does have is his ability to knit together a preposterously complex web of codes and clues into an airtight tapestry, and to make it all convincing.
The movie is very faithful to the novel in this respect. It moves quickly from location to location, never giving us too much time to question the logic (or illogic) of the narrative or to examine the many gaping plot holes in any great detail. Writer Akiva Goldsman has encountered his greatest trouble in the scenes in which the action stops dead in its tracks so that the characters can lay out in laborious detail the elaborate story behind the clues. Yet, this is as much the fault of the nature and design of the novel as it is of the man given the unenviable task of bringing it to the screen. Moreover, perhaps in the interest of time and keeping the action flowing, Robert and Sophie come up with solutions to the myriad riddles much too quickly and accurately, with a "Golly, gee, could it mean_______?" attitude that borders on the ludicrous. But, somehow, Howard makes most of it work. Perhaps, it's the clunky literal-minded earnestness with which he approaches the subject that ultimately allows us to buy into it against our better judgment.
Tom Hanks is stolid and passive as Dr. Robert Langdon, the college professor involuntarily driven into all this cloak-and-dagger intrigue, but Audrey Tautou has a certain subtle charm as Sophie, the woman who may play more of a part in the unraveling of the mystery than even she herself can imagine. Jean Reno and Paul Bettany have their moments as two of the less savory players in the story, but it is Ian McKellen as Sir Leigh Teabing, an expert on all things related to the Holy Grail, who walks off with the film. His scenery-chewing shtick pumps some much needed life into a tale essentially populated by underdeveloped stick figures.
The religious controversy surrounding both the novel and the film is as ludicrous as it is unjustified. Anyone whose belief system could be seriously shaken by this absurd mixture of unsubstantiated myth-making and plain old-fashioned wild speculation couldn't have had a very solid foundation of faith to begin with.
The rest of us can appreciate "The Da Vinci Code" for what it is, an overblown but epic exercise in code-busting and clue-decoding - in short, the "Gone With the Wind" of whodunits.
So I suggest not writing this off as a Hollywood hack film, simply
because it's the bandwagon thing to do. Before you go and see The Da
Vinci Code, let all the negative and positive hype surrounding this
production cancel each other out, clear your mind, and judge this film
fairly. Do NOT judge it on its usually weak director, do NOT judge it
entirely on the source material and do NOT judge it on your religious
beliefs. All this will be rewarding.
I have not read the book so I will not attempt any kind of comparison.
Plot essentially goes like this: In the middle of the night, Professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is summoned as an expert to a crime scene in Le Louvre where a terrible murder has been committed. The victim's body is self-placed in such a bizarre, symbolic way next to one of the world's most famous paintings that the investigation gradually unlocks age-old mysteries that many do not wish to be unlocked.
The Da Vinci Code is a chilling, thrilling and well-sewn together mystery thriller that often keeps you on the edge of your seat. The cast do not disappoint either. Paul Bettany is genuinely creepy as Silas and thereby reinforces the stereotype that all albinos are evil. While Audrey Tatou is annoyingly frail as Sophie Neveu, she is captivating and lovely and is able to project both charisma and presence on screen in this film. However, Tom Hanks did not at all feel like the protagonist in the story and I am unaware whether that was intentional or not but I'm guessing no, in which case Hanks definitely fails in both attracting and keeping our interest.
So the cast usually perform well (with the exception of Hanks) and the story is also facilitated by some very striking visuals. A big plus for this film which elevates it slightly above generic formula is its beautiful locations often seen through epic aerial shots. Good call, Howard! Another big plus is its distinctly Euro-centric feel in both style and substance. This surprised me since it is Tom Hanks and Ron Howard in the same film, but they do manage to keep the overblown Hollywood clichés to a minimum. This is even apparent in the score by Hans Zimmer; it is not overblown, but subtle and appropriate in the scenes to which it was scored. Similarly, Frenchmen do not speak English with a French accent when they were alone together, but speak in French. That said, the plot does unfold in a somewhat Hollywood fashion -- and the plot happens to be thinner than an Olsen twin.
To counter the good parts, two big minuses in The Da Vinci Code are its wooden and sometimes even placeholder dialogue and its distinct lack of humor. I felt the actors were much too serious for this kind of film, which is first and foremost an adventure story, fast-paced and constantly unlocking new mysteries. The issues in the film were serious enough and needed more comedy to balance them.
As I write this review, more and more bad points about it spring to mind. This is strange, since I remember sitting in the cinema with my friends just a few hours ago and being thoroughly entertained and captivated by the whole thing. So, never mind the occasionally insultingly far-fetched plot and plot-twists by Dan Brown; The Da Vinci Code is a nicely done and very entertaining film in which nothing feels missing or incomplete.
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.
If you take the most popular book in recent years, you should have the
most popular movie since The Lord of the Rings, right? Wrong. Though
the film was hotly debated, its cinematic quality and popularity aren't
nearly as high as one would expect. Amid protests, pending lawsuits,
and outright denouncements by Catholic officials, Ron Howard released
his adaptation of Dan Brown's novel, The Da Vinci Code.
American symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) and French cryptologist Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou) are on a trans-European quest to solve riddles left by Louvre curator, Langdon's hero and Neveu's grandfather, Jacques Saunier, as he lay dying. The riddles and subsequent quest allegedly lead to the true identity and whereabouts of the famed Holy Grail. Hot in pursuit of the thinking man's Bonnie and Clyde is Javert-ian French police captain Bezu Feche (Jean Reno), intent on pinning the murder of Suanier on Langdon and Neveu, and albino monk, Silas (Paul Bettany) under the command of a mysterious telephone voice known only as The Teacher.
With a pedigree such as the most popular book in the world, two Academy Award winners (Hanks, Howard and writer Akiva Goldsman), French film superstars (Tautou and Reno) and Gandalf (Ian McKellen), you'd wonder how such a film could fail.
Well, how about the miscast of Howard as director. Howard lacks the vision to properly adapt the novel and bring it to life. Some of the blame does go to his Cinderella Man scribe Akiva Goldsman for not writing a fitting script. But Howard's awkwardness is more prominent. If we were going to pick name directors for this film, Steven Spielberg would have been better choice, but I think David Fincher (Se7en and Fight Club) would have been perfect.
The whole production felt rushed. Having just read the book, a lot of plot points were fresh in my mind, and that may have clouded the comprehension of certain things, which I think Howard and Goldsman were counting on. Looking back on it, the first 30-45 minutes were very rushed, and I don't think things were adequately explained. They were still referenced and used in the movie, but not explained well. It suffered from the, what I call, Godfather syndrome: referencing things from the book at the wrong time. They could have taken their time with the film, and it would have told the same story, and been a lot better.
Hanks was out of place as Landon, our hero. He doesn't have or project the same presence about him that Langdon should have. Might I suggest seasoned conspiracy theory veteran David Duchovny? As with Mission:Impossible:III, the supporting cast was impeccably put together, and the one true weakness of the cast is unfortunately the keystone (maybe it's just a bad year for actors named Tom).
Slightly better than your average summer fair, but still doesn't hold up when put against the equally action oriented yet wholly more insightful X-Men franchise.
I just watched the film, and even though I liked it, I must confess, I
too expected more. I can't precisely point out what was missing and
what I was expecting, but some it has some details that weren't there,
some small imprecisions, some little things could have been better.
Nevertheless, a pleasant movie to watch. I confess I need to see it again, since I saw it from 3 to 6 am, with very few hours of sleep on the night before. I suggest the ones who read the book to re-read it before they go see it - to add a little bit more perspective. To those who haven't, I wish you a lovely time at the movies - it really is pleasant to see.
Praise to Audrey Tautou, a beautiful splendid actress, and all the other actors that don't need any more praise, like Ian McKellen, Jean Reno and Tom Hanks, who I didn't see fit the part at first, but who grew on me half-way through the movie, if not sooner. A huge praise to Paul Bettany too, for his astonishing and disturbing performance as Silas.
I give it an 8, because it's one of the first movies made from books that did not make me go 'Oh, this was not like this in the book' every five seconds. I never saw Ron Howard as the ideal director for this movie - but he pulled it off decently, though a bolder choice would have been in order.
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