Ron Howard and Tom Hanks really show different sides of themselves here.
Overall, I think this movie had too many twists and turns.
The Da Vinci Code tells an extraordinary, epic odyssey in both the past and present. We follow the action as it begins at the Louvre in Paris. Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is summoned there when a murder is committed, and it soon becomes clear that his presence is no coincidence. Somebody wants him there because through him they will reveal a secret. This puts him in direct contact with Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou), who is working on the case but is also the dead person's granddaughter. The more they look the more they find out about the dead man's allegiance to group called the Priory of Sion, and apparently they had all been harboring a secret that goes back to the early beginnings of Christianity. Naturally, other denominations become involved in this, and that also leads Langdon and Neveu into the highly secret world of the Catholic strewn Opus Dei sect. Eventually, this movie contained more twists and turns than a roller coaster at Magic Mountain, but if you can follow it all, I am sure you will appreciate the ideas being put across.
Truthfully, I was very much with this movie and then Langdon kept finding more and more pieces of information, and I just couldn't keep up. I am tempted to read the book because everyone who I have spoken to, who has read it, really has some positive things to say. Unfortunately, The Da Vinci Code became so convoluted that by the time it ended, I don't think I got the full effect of what the movie was trying to put across.
First Day on the Set with Ron Howard Featurette
This is a cool featurette in which Howard introduces the film and discusses what it's like being able to shoot at the Louvre in Paris. When one considers just what a massive undertaking this movie was, I think that we can all appreciate the journey that Ron Howard, Tom Hanks, and everyone else had before them. All in all, this was an interesting choice to put this segment on the DVD, but I feel that it was a wise one.
The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown
Knowing nothing about Dan Brown, I was excited to be able to find out more about the person behind this book. For some reason I was expecting him to be a lot older than he was, and I also thought that he might be from another country. Well, it turns out that Brown is from the US, he went to a boarding school, and had a Christian upbringing. He was a songwriter, became a teacher, and that led to him becoming a full time writer. What amazes me is how easily it seems he reeled off this book, because from the outside it seems like something that would be highly complicated.
Close-up on Mona Lisa
A Portrait of Langdon, Who is Sophie Neveu? , and Unusual Suspects
I decided to group all of these featurettes together because they cover the same basic ground: characters and casting. We get to go a little deeper into both the Langdon and Neveu characters, and the Unusual Suspects featurette examines the international actors that play a huge role in this film. Truthfully, we don't glean anything from these featurettes that we haven't heard before, but I guess for fans of the film (and the controversy surrounding it), they will devour these intimate looks at the folks who breathed life into these characters and this world.
The Codes of The Da Vinci Code
The Filmmaking Experience Parts 1 and 2
While I can't say that this two part featurette does anything we aren't used to "making of" featurettes doing, the fact that it focuses a great deal on the final scene of the movie should be more than enough reason to have Dan Brown fans salivating. What I liked most about this was that I felt I got to see the production in action. It sure wasn't anything close to being there, I gather, but at the same time it was interesting seeing a movie that is this layered and this deep, gets translated to the the big screen. Overall, there is a candidness to this segment's presentation that I really enjoyed.
"Da Vinci Code" Puzzle Game PC Demo
The Music of The Da Vinci Code
What would this two disc set be without a featurette that examines the somewhat haunting score. There is a feeling of impending doom that really pervades this whole film. Without this score to move along with the images, I don't think that the movie would have had the amount of impact that it did with viewers. I love that it doesn't foreshadow what it is going to happen, so much as it compliments the action that is taking place on screen. This featurette looks at all of that, from the mood, to the tone, the way it was incorporated with the various characters.
Aspect Ratio - 2.40:1. Having seen this movie in the theater and now on DVD, I think I preferred the DVD experience more. This film is so rich, is so thick with story, that I honestly think you need to have time to digest everything. I paused this movie a lot during my second viewing, and I honestly think it's a much better movie than I did when I first saw it. The picture itself looked pretty darn good, with the crispness on the screen not nearly as sharp as when I saw it in the movies. While The Da Vinci Code might be mind numbing at times, it is the kind of film that should do well in both standard and HD-DVD and Blu-ray.
English Dolby Digital 5.1. Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround. French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1. The audio on this release was solid but I don't have the kind of system that really let me know how great this setup could be. I wish that I did because this movie really seems poised to take the home theater experience to another level. So many of the films that get the Blu-ray/HD-DVD treatment are big budget spectacle films. While The Da Vinci Code falls into that category, it can also best be described as a thinking man's blockbuster.
The front cover of the DVD features Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou with the iconic image of the Mona Lisa behind them. Truthfully, as this movie is a mystery, I think that should have made it seem more like one on this DVD cover. The back has shots from the film, a Special Features listing, a cast list, and system specs. The two discs that make up this set are simply stored inside this case and overall I found this packaging to be more than adequate. I know there is another release with more bells and whistles but for my money I think that this is all you need.
I am so happy that this movie did well for Ron Howard. As a huge fan of his from Happy Days and The Andy Griffith Show, I really have high hopes for the things he creates. The fact that he has become one of America's premiere directors really says something about him as a person. One would think that with all the movies he's made the critics would get passed that and just judge his directing work on it's own merits. I wonder why him being a child star and sitcom actor should make him any less credible than people who don't have such a pedigree? Looking at his resume, he has made some terrific films. From Splash, Cocoon, to A Beautiful Mind, it should be apparent by now that Howard is one of the best we have to offer. I can only imagine what he's going to do with his remake of East of Eden.
All in all, I may think The Da Vinci Code isn't Howard's best work, but having grossed $755 million on a budget of $125, what the heck do I know?
The Da Vinci Code was released May 17, 2006.