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The Da Vinci Code
Review written on: May 21st, 2006

The Da Vinci Code Review

The blockbuster movie of the summer is just that – a blockbuster movie. It is in no way a faithful adaptation of the novel, nor is it a thinking man’s movie. It’s full of suspense, murders, plot twists and a talented cast. It lacks the though-provoking quality of the novel. Crucial details from the novel were fudged or left out completely. The essence of many characters was also fuzzy. Sophie Neveu in the novel is a strong-willed woman who makes a perfect complement to Robert Langdon’s quiet personality. In the movie, Sophie is more reserved and unsure of herself. Robert Langdon’s quiet manner and pleasure in all things symbology is changed into Tom Hanks’ signature mannerisms and a weird parlor trick where he has an almost photographic memory. Don’t mistake what I’m saying here: Audrey Tautou did a wonderful job with what was written for her and Tom Hanks will go down in history as one of the greatest actors of our time. But this movie just didn’t cut it as a novel adaptation.

Details were left out and storylines were shortened or changed for the sake of time and excitement. The sad part is, because I’ve read the novel, I don’t know if the movie has a coherent story on its own. I know the plot points and miniscule details that are missing from the screenplay because I’ve read the novel twice. I don’t know if someone who hasn’t read it will see this as a complete story.

Where Dan Brown’s novel version is extremely detailed and positions its legend as fact, the movie pits character against character to debate the truthfulness in the tale. Novel Langdon believes the Grail story supporting the marriage of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene. Movie Langdon argues with Sir Leigh Teabing (Ian McKellen) saying there’s no historical proof to support it. I think Ron Howard was trying to take the safe way out and avoid the protests. Unfortunately for him it backfired. Not only did people protest anyway (because they know the stance of the book and assumed that was the stance in the movie), but he shortchanged his film by bypassing the controversy.

Overall I’d say it was decent. The cast was excellent. I couldn’t have imagined a better Silas than Paul Bettany. Audrey Tautou is captivating and beautiful. Tom Hanks is, as always, an excellent actor. Ian McKellen, though not as I pictured Sir Leigh Teabing, was perfect in the role. Jean Reno provides the right mix of intensity and power to Bezu Fache. Rounding out the cast is Alfred Molina as Bishop Aringarosa, the man with good intentions, and horrible intuition.

Would I recommend the movie to someone? If you’ve read the novel, I say you should probably check it out. It’s worth viewing simply to see the places like Temple Church and the Lourve. Don’t get your hopes up imagining it’s a scene-by-scene adaptation of the novel, because it doesn’t even come close. If you haven’t read the novel, I can’t speak for the movie as a stand-alone film. You should probably check it out for the sole benefit of not being the only person to not see it (other than the fifteen protesters outside the theater I went to).

 

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