The Da Vinci Code (Movie Review)

Finally saw the movie at one of the Robinson’s Malls South of Manila. It was showing at 3 of the 6 moviehouses there, which impressed me, considering that the movies showing in other theaters were “M.I. 3”, “Poseidon” & “Over the Hedge”.

As expected, there were a few people in the first screening, but by 2nd screening, the moviehouse was already full. I expect it to have even better attendance in the afternoon & evenings.

‘The Good News’

The movie started out on the wrong foot. The first 3rd of the movie, while true to the book, lacked the essence of excitement of the book. The story looked disjointed, detached, uninspired. So much so, that I was starting to think at that point, what the heck, Ron Howard messed up this one.

However, everything started falling into the right place right about Langdon & Neveu reached Teabing’s castle. Just like that, everything seemed to changed, & got interesting. It’s not just Ian Mckellen’s appearance as Leigh Teabing that jumpstarted the movie. The script, the individual performances, everything just started going well at that point.

Take the case of Audrey Tatou as Sophie Neveu, for example. The book portrayed her as beautiful, intelligent & assertive, a gorgeous take charge woman. While Tatou got the gorgeous part right, the intelligence & assertiveness just wasn’t there in the first 3rd of the movie. It was only when she started absorbing what Teabing was saying that her performance started to shine. This is very evident onscreen.

I liked the flashback sequences, they were well made, & were grafted seamlessly into the flow of the movie.

About 80% of the movie was taken straight out of the book. The remaining 20%, Howard took artistic liberty in terms of changing some scenes, or events in the book. One of these liberties, was to make it what some people called as “safe”. In the movie’s first highpoint, when Teabing started discussing the issue about the Holy Grail, in the book, Langdon pretty much agreed w/ what Teabing had to say.

In the movie, Langdon served a lot of counterpoint to what Teabing was saying, turning some areas of it into a discussion, w/ Neveu acting as referee. Some people called that being “safe”, but I don’t agree. Langdon’s counterpoints served as an update to the book’s more speculative assertions. It served merely as a reminder as to what is FACT, & what is SPECULATION, which is a good thing, because you would not know which is which in the book unless you did some research.

I couldn’t say anything bad about the last 2/3 of the movie. Time flies so fast in those 2/3, you hardly realize 2 hrs. had already passed.

I love the ending of the movie, which was exactly the same as the ending of the book. Some people didn’t like it, but I thought it was a fitting end to the book or movie, & was touched by it, as others did. The ending was personal, & at a spiritual level. I won’t go farther than that.

‘The Bad News’

Much of what I didn’t like about the movie lies on the uninspired & disjointed first 3rd of the movie. There were just a lot of loopholes, like those who have not read the book would not understand the Swiss bank President’s role in the incident.

There were a lot of wasted, exciting scenes, too, in that part of the movie. Like, they weren’t able to capture Sauniere’s desperation when he found out he was the only living person who knew about the secret, & thus had to pass it on somehow. Or, when Langdon & Neveu were spirited away on the Swiss Bank’s armored vehicle by the Vernet (the Swiss Bank’s President).

Which was really quite a shame, because that part of the book was what kept me reading for hours on end because of the suspense, & puzzles.

‘The Final Verdict’

The movie, in it’s own right, is pretty good. Unfortunately, it does not live up the book, simply because the book is just so darn good. If the movie is “Above Average”, the book is at least 2 notches above that, at “Outstanding”.

If you haven’t read the book, the movie is a pretty good start. But I recommend that you read the book afterwards, because it is just so much better.

If you have read the book, you would likely be turned off by the first 3rd of the movie. The movie offers something more, though, on the remaining parts. It offers you visualizations about the characters, places, events, etc. which would’ve never been possible w/ the book only.

Overall, I’m giving this a “5”, a “Must-see”. I’m definitely buying it on DVD, so I can watch it again, & again.

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