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The Da Vinci Code(2006)
The murder of a curator at the Louvre reveals a sinister plot to uncover a secret that has been protected since the days of Christ. Only the victim's granddaughter and Robert Langdon, a famed symbologist, can untangle the clues he left behind. The two become both suspects and detectives searching for not only the murderer but also the stunning secret of the ages he was charged to protect.
For more about The Da Vinci Code and the The Da Vinci Code Blu-ray release, see the The Da Vinci Code Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on April 30, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Ian McKellen, Alfred Molina, Jürgen Prochnow, Paul Bettany
Director: Ron Howard
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The Da Vinci Code Blu-ray Review
A controversial dud that fizzles every time it should thrill...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, April 30, 2009
Apparently all some people need to reconnect with their inner-indignation is a best-selling book or snazzy Hollywood production that tampers with cherished religious beliefs. Maybe it's just me, but I can't imagine feeling threatened by a work of fiction; particularly one that values cheap theatrics and clumsy scripting over genuine intrigue or higher intellectual pursuits. Of course, I'm referring to director Ron Howard's adaptation of author Dan Brown's controversial novel, The Da Vinci Code. Accused of being a deceptive attack on faith -- a vicious assault on the most fundamental figure in Christendom -- the film is actually little more than an overwritten, underdeveloped globe-hopping thriller. Don't get me wrong, I can understand the outrage of those who take great offense to the assertions The Da Vinci Code so vigorously presents as truth, but the time these well-intentioned individuals spend wallowing in anger could instead be used to engage others in a legitimate discussion about the very history and principles Brown's book and Howard's film supposedly undermine. If sharing one's faith is a goal, why not embrace the chance to do so?
Sigh... I'll pack that rant away for another day. Regardless of whether you think The Da Vinci Code is a baseless heretical blight, thinly-veiled secular propaganda, a harmless work of flighty fiction, or that-movie-where-Tom-Hanks-talks-about-Jesus-while-evading-the-French-police, one thing remains constant: it simply isn't a good film.
Before the curator of the Louvre, Jacques Saunière (Jean-Pierre Marielle), dies from wounds inflicted by a mysterious zealot (Paul Bettany), he leaves a series of encoded clues written in invisible ink and his own blood. Upon discovering the body, the police acquire the assistance of symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks), an American lecturer conveniently visiting France at the time. However, all is not as it seems: Captain Bezu Fache (Jean Reno) actually suspects Langdon of the crime. Escaping the Louvre with the help of Saunière's granddaughter, cryptologist Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou), Langdon works to decipher the dead curator's codes, collect a series of religious relics, and uncover a secret countless people have died to protect. With forces unknown hot on their trail, Langdon and Neveu visit an old friend, Leigh Teabing (Sir Ian McKellen), in the hopes of cracking an increasingly complex code that provides shocking answers about Christ's life on Earth, the nature of the fabled Holy Grail, and the efforts Catholic power players have taken over the ages to conceal it all.
Limp, lazy, and laborious, The Da Vinci Code lacks the narrative focus and proficient pacing needed to make it sing. I'm in no position to discuss the quality or faithfulness of screenwriter Akiva Goldsman's adaptation since I've never read Brown's novel, but the talents of Howard and his cast are wasted on far too many set pieces and redundant conversations to generate a compelling film. I continually had to stop and wait for Langdon to unravel mysteries I had already solved (as exciting as watching someone mull over a clue may seem, I assure you it's not). Worse still, when the intellectual A-bomb would finally catch up with me, he did so by connecting a ridiculous series of dots that no expert -- no matter their training, education, or experience -- could possibly piece together without an entire fleet of researchers nipping at his heels. It doesn't help that Neveu is essentially on hand to spit out any random question that may or may not pop into a viewer's mind. Unfortunately, this necessary expositional evil inadvertently creates a perpetually perplexed female lead; a struggling dolt limited to confused expressions and inane regurgitations of the facts.
It's a sad state of affairs when a weighty adaptation of a controversial best-seller falls decidedly short of popcorn fare like National Treasure. At least Nicholas Cage's historical romp had wit and humor on its side. Compared to a lifeless dud like The Da Vinci Code, a hidden map on the back of the Declaration of Independence is positively inspired. How ironic then that a mystery concerning the discovery of an all-important soul is so insipidly souless. Only the appearance of Sir Ian McKellen lightens the mood; his performance brings enthusiasm and exuberance to a film otherwise devoid of anything resembling either one. He seems to be the only person on set who understands that The Da Vinci Code should be every bit as rousing an adventure as a summer actioner like National Treasure. Instead, he steals scenes from Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou: two actors who've built their careers on the backs of lively, infectious characters like Forest Gump and Amélie. Even Bettany and Alfred Molina -- the proverbial wolves in the fold -- lack the passion and presence to inject any real malice into the film.
So feel free to spend your days debating Brown's intentions and the controversial symbology of the Holy Grail... it won't make The Da Vinci Code a better film. A painfully contrived story, an even weaker script, a parade of dry performances, and the most dense and unwieldy expositional dialogue you'll ever find crammed into three hours of celluloid amount to one thing: a disappointing waste of time.
The Da Vinci Code Blu-ray, Video Quality
It may appear to be one of the most underwhelming Sony video transfers in recent memory, but The Da Vinci Code's 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer is actually quite faithful to its source. Yes, the picture is quite soft at times... yes, it sometimes looks similar to its standard DVD counterpart... yes, when this review first posted, I gave the disc a low score based on the belief that I was watching a poorly mastered technical mess. However, with the help of some well-informed readers and a particularly insightful industry insider, I've come around.
Since cinematographer Salvatore Totino used Long Cooke S4s lenses with diffusion filtering for the film's principle photography, a relentless brigade of dense shadows swallow both the actors and locations, robbing the image of the sharpness, definition, and clarity often associated with a high definition presentation. Detail is almost entirely obscured by darkness, soft close-ups and establishing shots dominate the majority of scenes, and textures simply cease to exist every time the lights grow dim. Even when a few decent day-lit exteriors salvage the transfer late in the game -- finally filling the screen with more refined edges and more distinct detailing -- a slight haziness persists. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if a number of viewers eject the disc just to make sure they didn't purchase a DVD. Still, black levels are incredibly rich, delineation is just as revealing as Totino intended, and the transfer itself offers a reliable rendering of the film's theatrical print. Furthermore, artifacting and banding are kept to a bare minimum, source noise is nowhere to be found, and grain ranges from invisible to unobtrusive.
All things considered, The Da Vinci Code may be the last disc you grab to show off your home theater, but it is an accurate representation of Howard and Totino's intentions and deserves to be praised as such. It's a soft and murky, yet technically sound transfer that should satisfy fans armed with appropriate expectations.
The Da Vinci Code Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Powerful, clean, and intelligible, Sony's Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track doesn't suffer from any debilitating technical issues or struggle with any major inadequacies. Instead, dialogue is generally crisp and well-prioritized (only a handful of hushed whispers fall by the wayside), reliable LFE support kicks in whenever Langdon has to flee the authorities, and the rear speakers do a fine job handling the varying acoustic properties of the film's diverse interiors. I was taken by the aural realism of each sprawling chapel and cramped vehicle -- it didn't matter if Hanks and Tautou were babbling in an aging church or murmuring in Teabing's living room, everything sounded just as it should. In fact, despite the inaccuracy of some minor directional effects (those pesky French sirens never seem to settle in the right spot), the soundfield is wholly immersive; drawing the listener deeper and deeper into Langdon's exploration of history. The Da Vinci Code's TrueHD track may not woo audiophiles with errant explosions and rampant gunfire, but it effectively handles every element the film throws its way.
The Da Vinci Code Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
In addition to the 174-minute extended cut of the flick itself (sorry Langdon enthusiasts: Sony hasn't included the theatrical version), the 2-disc Blu-ray edition of The Da Vinci Code offers all of the special features that appear on the 2006 DVD, as well as a variety of exclusive material, a Picture-in-Picture track, and some BD-Live options for those of you who find texting as fulfilling as watching a film. It's also worth noting that all of the discs' supplemental content is presented in high definition.
The Da Vinci Code Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Da Vinci Code Gift Set may not slap you across the face with sharp visuals and crystal clear details, but fans of the film will find it to be a solid release nevertheless. It features an exceedingly faithful (albeit intentionally soft) video transfer, an excellent TrueHD audio track, and an extensive set of supplements (including several meaty exclusives). The bottom line? Newcomers would do best renting the film before committing any cash to a purchase, but fans can be assured that the Blu-ray edition of The Da Vinci Code is the version to own.
The Da Vinci Code: Other Editions
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The Da Vinci Code Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Exclusive BD-Live Coverage for Angels & Demons - May 9, 2009
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced that owners of the 'Da Vinci Code' Blu-ray, which was released April 28th, can now access footage from the world theatrical premiere of 'Angels and Demons' in Rome. To access this exclusive footage, owners simply ...
• Da Vinci Code Blu-ray Gets Detailed - February 17, 2009
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced the special features and technical specs for the upcoming Blu-ray release of 'The Da Vinci Code: Extended Cut', which is due to hit store shelves on April 28th. The release, which is being released two weeks before ...
• Da Vinci Code Scheduled for April Blu-ray Release - February 2, 2009
On the official website for the upcoming film 'Angels & Demons', Sony has revealed that they will bring 'The Da Vinci Code: Extended Cut' to Blu-ray on April 28th to coincide with the theatrical release. No technical specs have been announced at this time, though ...
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