THE ROBERT LANGDON MOVIE REVIEW: “The Da Vinci Code” stars Tom Hanks (Toy Story, Forrest Gump), Audrey Tautou (Amelie, Dirty Pretty Things), Ian McKellen (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Gods and Monsters), Jean Reno (Leon: The Professional, The Big Blue), Paul Bettany (Avengers: Age of Ultron, A Beautiful Mind), Alfred Molina (Spider-Man 2, Frida), Jurgen Prochnow (Das Boot, Dune), and Jean-Yves Berteloot (Hereafter, 40-Love). It was directed by Ron Howard (In the Heart of the Sea, Apollo 13), while the screenplay was written by Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man). When a dead body is found at the Louvre, requesting a man by the name of Dr. Robert Langdon (Hanks) in his last written words, the professor is sent on a wild adventure filled with secrets and puzzles that lead to shocking revelations.
Hmmm…interesting. I must say that I expected more out of “The Da Vinci Code,” considering how its well-known status in the cinema realm is a cause for further study. If you’re looking for a “National Treasure” feature, but without Nicolas Cage and focusing on religion rather than presidents, you’ve come to the right place. With a wide array of amazing actors, a brilliant director at the helm, and a master composer behind the music, there was a lot to hope for when it came to “The Da Vinci Code.” But, on the late night that I chose to watch this, I couldn’t help but feel a bit…put off. To start off with this review, I will say that the opener is great. It’s the scene that sets us up with what is to come, and Ron Howard couldn’t have done better (along with a great track scored by Hans Zimmer). It intrigued me, brought me in, and glued my eyes to the screen. I may be exaggerating it’s greatness, but I have to admit that it was wickedly shot. However, it’s what followed after the scene that made things tricky. When it comes to films that twist history to make for a high-octane picture bent on adventure and thrills, I’m usually lenient on grading them well. They hold a good place in my heart because, while completely fictional, they make for compelling narratives that offer audiences brain puzzles. Sure, some of them can be predictable, but overall I’ve enjoyed my fair share of the sub-genre (yes, I hold onto “National Treasure” dearly). The situation with “The Da Vinci Code” couldn’t be more different, though. When the first act unrolls, we are introduced to our heroes: Dr. Robert Langdon and Sophie Neveu (Tautou). Together, they must follow a trail of clues left by a victim sprawled across the floor of a French museum, hoping to discover answers regarding Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene. The answers that are revealed made viewing uneasy for me, to be completely honest. I understand that it’s fictional (I even stated it earlier in this review), but I couldn’t help but be put off by its absurdity; albeit it did make an interesting conflict regarding the Catholic Church. What made matters even more strenuous was how long this adventure actually was. This movie clocks in around two hours and thirty minutes in total; I’m not the one to complain about the longevity of films (I’d like to consider my attention span large), however with this large runtime came many moments of drag/filler, primarily concerning the characters themselves. The issue “The Da Vinci Code” faces, besides its complete insanity in what the characters are finding, is the development of our heroes. Moments are scattered across the board to give us insight as to who Dr. Langdon and Sophie are as people, but I felt more detached from them than caring in the long run. Sophie was given the most time and care, as she was a huge puzzle piece in the make-up of this hunt. But, her development was more focused on the narrative rather than her as a person. Dr. Langdon, on the other hand, was severely under-developed. Besides his skill in symbols, all the writers had to offer was he almost drowned in a well, which was brought up constantly throughout the feature anytime Langdon got in crowded spaces. At first it was weird; then it became annoying because of how minuscule a character trait it is (and how it’s the only one really available to us as viewers). When you mix all of this together, you not only get hollow characters, but also lack of chemistry. I could tell that they trusted each other, but much of what they did together seemed like a push from the screenwriter rather than of the characters’ intentions. This was especially prominent in the first act when Langdon was signed on to the case and Sophie snuck him away. How they ended up on this clue trail was incredibly forced, and they hardly ever took the time to assess the situation (Langdon was taken away from a book signing before this, for goodness sake). What transpired of their hunt may have been fun at times, but for the most part “The Da Vinci Code” carried itself in a hum-drum manner, only to be broken whenever something unexpected happened. I will admit to not predicting anything, but that could’ve been due to my drowsiness in watching it. By the end, I was zoning out, only to be brought back whenever the threat was eliminated and all was left was to pick up the pieces that remained. I won’t spoil anything, but I will say that it was at least serviceable to the characters the writers tried to develop. All in all, “The Da Vinci Code” isn’t a bad movie; it’s just one that needs further revision in order to make compelling characters. Where the intrigue lies is how the mystery and events affect our characters, rather than the discovery of the answers themselves (though that is also a nice touch). There’s certainly aspects to enjoy about this film, but not enough to make it as classic piece of cinema. FINAL SCORE: 70%= Burnt Popcorn
Here is the trailer:
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