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Da Vinci Code, The (Extended Cut) (2006) Print E-mail
Monday, 04 May 2009
ImageBack in 2003, Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" was a literary success.  Despite the legal matters that surrounded the writing, there was no doubt that the book would be adapted for the big screen.  Throughout reading the book, I always envision Tom Hanks portraying Robert Langdon.  There was no question about it.  When they made the announcement that he was indeed to play the role, I wasn't the least bit surprised.

There was enough information in the book to spawn at least a three and a half hour movie.  And indeed the film does run nearly three hours.  Unfortunately, that doesn't mean they included all the storylines in the book.  Therein lies my disappointment with the film.  Too much was left out of the movie that was in the book, and still the film drug on and on.  The book had me on my toes all the way through.  I read it in one read.  I found it difficult to sit through the movie in one sit.  I writhed in my chair all the way through.  Throughout the film I just said to myself, "they left out this and they deleted this, oh and that isn't accurate," etc., etc.

I can't believe that the filmmakers left the whole grandfather plot and the Priory of Sion out of the film.  It was pivotal to the book and the film desperately needed it.  For the most part the adapted movie was nothing like I had pictured in my mind while reading the book, with the exception of Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon and Jean Reno as Fache.

Ron Howard has turned out some terrific films in the past, but this film falls short of his stellar work.  Howards work on "Apollo 13," "Willow," "A Beautiful Mind" and several others is extraordinary.  Casting "The Da Vinci Code" aside, there is still hope for the upcoming "Angels & Demons" film.

I wasn't sure how well it was going to work to have an unknown actress play the lead role of Sophie Neveu.  However, I was pleasantly surprised with Audrey Tautou's performance.  Ron Howard's direction is good and the acting is decent.  What is truly lacking in this film is the book to screen adapted screenplay.  The writers didn't seem to know what was a necessary plot and what was irrelevant.  While watching this film I got the feeling that the writers made two screenplays, one with all the pertinent data and one with all the irrelevant data and that they went and made the irrelevant screenplay by mistake.

"The Da Vinci Code" could have been a whole lot better.  Lovers of the book will be certainly disappointed with this film.  If you haven't read the book then by all means watch the movie first and then go get the rest from the book itself. Sony brings "The Da Vinci Code" to Blu-ray with an MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer.  The video quality is a bit of a mixed bag.  However, for the most part I must say I am disappointed with its presentation.  The black levels dominant the transfer, as should be expected given the nature of the film.  While the black levels are deep and rich, there is a bit of crushing in the extremes.  The color palette is limited to mainly blues and reds, provided a dark religious feel to the film.  Where I found the transfer to really suffer is in the details and shadow delineation.  With the film taking place in catacombs and dark corners, shadow delineation is of the utmost importance.  Unlike the recently released "Sin City," "The Da Vinci Code" has virtually no shadow delineation.  Heads look like they are floating in mid air.  Any evidence of details and textures are also lost in the darkness.  The outdoor bright sequences yield a far better image, but you might find yourself wondering if this is a standard definition DVD that you are watching during a large portion of the film.

The audio is presented in a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track.  For the most part this is a great audio track.  The dialogue is crisp and clear.  However, there are some quieter scenes that find the dialogue falling below the typical dialogue threshold.  You may have to turn this film up a bit past reference level.  The LFE channel is appropriately used, particularly during the chase sequences.  The surround channels are engaging during these sequences as well.  One of the real treats of this audio track is the immersive feeling.  The sound designers did a terrific job of sampling the reverb and delay settings of the old churches and museums.  All the dialogue is appropriately placed in the environment.  The audio track is more than sufficient for what the movie sound design calls for.

In terms of special features, this release gets a bump up over the previous standard definition release.  This edition of the film is an extended cut, running 174 minutes.  The theatrical release of the film ran about 149 minutes.  There isn’t much added to the film in the extended cut, but it does help close some of the gaps left by the film's book-to-screen adaptation.  There are two discs in this Blu-ray release.

The first disc contains the extended movie cut and a few of the exclusive Blu-ray special features.  "Unlocking the Code" is an interactive picture-in-picture track.  The track offers a lot of interviews and behind the scenes information, including trivia.  However, the interaction is just far too much over the course of three hours.  You will get exhausted within the first 30 minutes.  Also new to the Blu-ray edition is select scene audio commentaries by Ron Howard.  Howard gives some good information during his scene commentaries, but it doesn't help the movie experience at all.

The second disc contains the rest of the bonus materials.  This disc contains about 160 minutes of production featurettes.  These featurettes are informative but in all run far too long.  Nonetheless, the featurettes are probably better than the movie itself.  The featurettes included are: "First Day on the Set with Ron Howard," "A Discussion with Dan Brown," "Book to Screen," "The Filmmakers' Journey," "A Portrait of Langdon," "Who Is Sophie Neveu?," "Unusual Suspects," "Close-Up on Mona Lisa," "Recreating Works of Art," "Visual Effects," and "The Codes of 'The Da Vinci Code.'"

Also available on this Blu-ray release is Sony's cinechat, which allows you to text message on screen to share your comments with other film watchers.  The disc is enhanced with BD-Live functionality.

"The Da Vinci Code" is a bit of a bust as a film given the awesomeness of the book.  However, there are some good moments in the film that are worth watching.  The video quality is mainly true to the filmmakers' intent, but it doesn't bode well for the technical quality of the transfer.  The details and textures are completely lost in the dark blacks.  Audio quality is good, providing you with an enveloping experience.  Depending on your fascination with religious history this Blu-ray release may be worth a look.

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