Let’s start this review by asking, “What the heck was Columbia and Imagine thinking, pushing The Da Vinci Code as a summer movie?” There is no way that this, over long, pretentious, sometimes boring, but very intriguing movie should be shown in the summer months.
I walked into this movie, with not once ounce of excitement or intrigue towards it. I have no interest in the subject matter, and I didn’t read the book. So I had no idea what to expect. Well that’s not entirely true; it’s Ron Howard (Pretentious Director), Tom Hanks (Pompous Actor), Akiva Goldsman (Screenwriter I actually like, except, when he works with Hanks and Howard) a trio that has a boatload of Oscar nominations and wins between them.
But I’m, admittedly in the minority on my total dislike of Ron Howard movies, and Tom Hanks. Although in the last few years, Hanks’ film choices have been intriguing and his films have been growing on me. I loved Road to Perdition (didn’t like him), liked Lady Killers (again, didn’t like him), loved The Terminal (didn’t like him) and loved Catch Me If You Can (didn’t like him, notice a trend here?). I don’t know what it is about Hanks that simply bugs me – maybe I can never get over his manic performance on Bosom Buddies, or, the fact that, in real life I can’t separate his pretentious arrogance from his on screen performances.
So because of all this I could have cared less about this film, but I went anyway. And the first half hour of this film really clicks and moves at a pretty “brisk” pace – at least for a Ron Howard directed film. The film opens with a murder and then switches to a lecture as noted religious “cryptologist” Robert Langdon (Hanks) is giving a speech on the history of various symbols.
It’s an intriguing presentation as we first see members of the robes of the KKK as he asks the audience, what this photo means. Naturally the audience shouts that it means “hate, racism, etc.” but then Langdon explains the history of the robes had nothing to do with the KKK. He then shows the symbol of the devil’s pitchfork, and the camera pulls back and shows it to be a piece of one of the Greek God’s Trident.
Immediately I was sucked into the film, as it unfolds Langdon gets involved in a murder mystery and becomes the immediate suspect as a crooked French police officer Captain Fache (Jean Reno) uses any means necessary to track him down. Langdon eventually hooks up with the murder victim’s granddaughter Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou) who helps him try and put the pieces together of the true mystery of the whereabouts of The Holy Grail. I won’t spoil the story by giving you any more info.
Throughout the search and chase, Langdon and Fache have to avoid being captured by the French police, stay a step ahead of a murderous albino monk named Silas (played by EM favorite and always excellent, Paul Bettany), and avoid getting trapped in a larger church conspiracy led by Dr. Octopus, ok that wasn’t his name, Bishop Aringarosa (Alfred Molina).
The cast was for the most part excellent, Bettany’s Silas was a character that you actually sort of cared about, even though he was a killer, he wasn’t really psychotic (well, maybe a little), just misguided and used by the people in the church.
Many say that the book, therefore the film, is anti-religious, I would have to argue with that. This film asks lots of interesting and intriguing questions about the nature of the divine and human and about the nature of faith. The film feels like it is anti-organized religion, but not against the idea of religion itself.
Ultimately the problem with The Da Vinci Code is that this isn’t a film that is really meant for summer viewing and Ron Howard’s directorial style is slow, meandering, and he can’t direct action sequences.
There are times when this film, like Tom Hanks’ hair, it laid there like a limp noodle. Is this film at times pretentious, overlong, and boring? God yes. There was a clear stopping point, but the film dragged on for another 35 minutes. I started mumbling to myself, when is the thing going to end? But it’s also intriguing, suspenseful, and engrossing and got caught up with the mystery. I liked it well enough, that I’m actually going to read the book.
Final Grade B-
by Michelle Alexandria
Originally Posted 5/19/06