Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Movie Review: The Da Vinci Code

U.S. Release Date: 5/19/06
Running Time: 2:29
Rated: PG-13 (Violence, profanity, brief nudity)
Cast: Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Ian McKellan, Jean Reno, Paul Bettany, Alfred Molina

Director: Ron Howard
Producers: Dan Brown, Todd Hallowell
Screenplay: Akiva Goldsman, based on the novel by Dan Brown
Music: Hans Zimmer
Studio: Columbia Pictures


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For anyone who has not read Dan Brown’s popularized work of fiction, "The Da Vinci Code," the wild goosechase/Grail quest can be quite confusing and disorienting on screen. Yet, for anyone who has read the novel, the film will most likely play out as a second viewing of the already imagined initial reading. That is to say that, for the most part, all of the players – actors and director alike – succeed in producing a picture that does justice to the text which many have called a “nonstop page-turner.”

On the night that Jacques Sauniere (Jean-Pierre Marielle), curator of the famous Louvre Museum, is murdered, he leaves a string of ritualized clues behind. These clues are intended for his granddaughter, Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou) and religious symbologist, Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks). However, French police Captain Bezu Fache (Jean Reno) suspects Robert Langdon as Sauniere’s killer.

Meanwhile, the actual murderer – an albino named Silas (Paul Bettany), who serves Bishop Aringarosa (Alfred Molina) of the conservative sect Opus Dei – is on the prowl and longing for the very thing that Langdon is striving to reveal. Similarly, once Langdon turns to Holy Grail enthusiast, Lee Teabing (Sir Ian McKellan), more problems seem to arise. With every effort focused on evading the law and cracking the code, Langdon and Neveu are well on their way to uncovering what could be one of Christianity’s most shattering secrets.

Bettany, Molina, Reno, Tautou, Hanks, and most of all McKellan all gel as one of the most impressive ensemble casts of 2006 thus far. Moreover, when you tack on a high-caliber name like Ron Howard as director, you receive a film that is destined to reap the rewards and overcome its substantial budget and high expectations.

As a consequence of the majority’s predisposition to the plot, the story’s twists (if you could call them that) will surely not leave as strong of an impression as hoped for. Likewise, the film may appear to overstay its welcome, in terms of running-time—even though the movie is already an abridged version of the book.

Be that as it may, screenwriter Akiva Goldsman wisely places all of the necessities of the storyline into play and even adds a nice tidbit (about a well accident) that initially impairs, and then later renews, the protagonist.

The bottom line is: knowing what to expect from this “controversial” film is the ticket to appreciation. Then again, for some, any preconceived anticipation could result in an unfavorable opinion. Of course, this could be said for any book-to-motion-picture adaptation, but considering "The Da Vinci Code" is now the second best-selling book right behind "The Bible," more oomph can be applied to this statement.

Nonetheless, The Da Vinci Code fares well under the monikers of: thriller and summer blockbuster. Only the offended and the unaware possess the remote possibility of exiting the theater unsatisfied. In brief, The Da Vinci Code is as exhilarating and entertaining of an adaptation as anyone could ask for out of Dan Brown’s best-selling novel. (*** out of ****)

© Copyright Brandon Valentine 2006