Because of all the hype The Da Vinci Code has been receiving, I decided sometime last week I wanted to see this film when it came out. To that end, I went out and bought a copy of the book, thinking that reading the book would add to my enjoyment of the movie. Boy, was I mistaken. Writing a review for this movie is proving rather difficult because I became such a fan of the novel.
It's not that Ron Howard's version of The Da Vinci Code is particularly deficient in any particular aspect, but it does, however, pale in comparison to Dan Brown's novel. The novel makes an effort to add depth and understanding to the actions of it's characters, particularly the Opus Dei albino monk Silas, that would otherwise seem entirely morbid and macabre. The novel also has the luxury of patiently dwelling out the historical lore of The Da Vinci Code, without having to cram it into the reader’s brains before they have to get up and go to the bathroom.
Tom Hanks is a superb actor and delivers a solid performance as always. Audrey Tautou is a good actress who fulfills the role of Sophie Neveu quite well. And while she is awesome at making that facial expression that makes any male with a libido melt, at times her French accent is a little too 'French', making her difficult to understand. And sure, perhaps that is realistic, but certainly not welcome in a movie that asks the viewer to chunk as much information as The Da Vinci Code does in two and a half hours. The real life of the movie, however, can be found in Ian McKellen, who not only delivers the only few light-hearted moments in the movie, but is excellent in every scene.
My biggest problem with the movie, which I wouldn't have had if I weren't familiar with the novel, was there were times I feel like the movie needed to spend more time on a given subject that was simply slammed through, and at other times the characters spend too much time on things that either should have had far less screen time, or needed to have been omitted entirely. For example, the book spends a great deal of time going into the self-flagellation practices of some members of Opus Dei, but near the beginning of the movie we see a lengthy, and entirely nude scene of Silas beating himself with a rope, and given no context whatsoever. Later in the movie, one line delivered by Liegh Teabing gives us the only discussion we are to receive on the practice. Without the necessary context, the entire scene seems reminiscent of a movie like The Omen--trite horror movie fare. What frustrates further is the pop-philosophy sprinkled throughout the movie and not included in the novelization. This time could have been better spent further exploring the scenes near the beginning of the movie that were simply rushed through.
On a side note, the soundtrack by Hanz-Zimmer is not life changing or anything, but is quite enjoyable.
The only other complaint I have about the movie was the ending, which landed in my mind with a thud. The end of the novel comes very much full circle, and it's meaning is significant enough to leave you with all sort of warm fuzzies when you finish the book. The ending of the movie is not wildly different from the book, but different enough to be jarring to the movie watcher who had previously read the novel, and certainly not nearly as fulfilling.
All in all, this not a bad movie. I'm giving this movie 2.5/4 stars. Unfortunately, had I not read the book, I think this movie would have easily received 3 or 3.5 stars.
"I show you doubt, to prove that faith exists." - Robert Browning, english poet
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