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Da Vinci Code, The (DVD Review)

8 Oct, 2006 By: John Latchem

Da Vinci Code

Prebook 10/12/06; Street 11/14/06
Sony Pictures
Box Office $217.5 million
$29.96 two-DVD set, $28.95 UMD, $80.95 gift set
Rated ‘PG-13' for disturbing images, violence, some nudity, thematic material, brief drug references and sexual content.
Stars Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Ian McKellen.

The Da Vinci Code film may be the victim of the book's overwhelming success.

Perhaps there is someone out there who has not heard of the book, knows nothing of its controversial subject matter, and can screen the movie with such objectivity.

The rest of us, however, have been subjected to countless knockoffs, television specials and DVDs exploring the themes of the novel, most notably the idea that Mary Magdalene was Jesus Christ's wife and the true Holy Grail. Ideas presented as profound in the film are, therefore, nothing of the kind.

Even those who haven't read the book will find little that is new in the movie. Author Dan Brown constructed a treasure hunt and thriller plot around the idea that the Catholic Church is afraid the truth of the Holy Grail would threaten its power on Earth.

In between the car chases and shootouts standard to any action film, the characters take turns solving clever riddles and providing exposition to each other, lending the feel of a two-hour lecture on medieval history and religious theory.

Director Ron Howard does his best to inject some freshness into the presentation, but the task may be insurmountable. The actors are game — McKellen stands out particularly as Grail expert Teabing — but Hanks as Robert Langdon phones it in. He's clearly above this material, and he knows it.

The DVD is rather sparse on features, containing 10 featurettes that when viewed together form a 90-minute behind-the-scenes documentary about the film. Getting past the cast and crew's giddiness about filming in the Louvre, it's not a bad making-of special, especially revealing hidden codes layered into the film.

The Da Vinci Code is basically a secular Grail quest, which seem to be in fashion these days (“Stargate SG-1” is in the midst of one with a sci-fi twist), but it does little to threaten the classics of the genre, most notably Monty Python and the Holy Grail and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

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