The Da Vinci Code Blu-ray review

A high-definition release of the controversial Catholic thriller proves a better experience for Glen than the original...

I first became aware of Dan Brown’s, international best seller, The Da Vinci Code’a few years ago when I was waiting to board a plane. I noticed two strangers start up a conversation about the book they were both reading. Generally, not being the type of person to start conversations with strangers, I was impressed that they felt compelled to do this and to talk about it with such enthusiasm and at such length.

Shortly after returning from my trip I picked up a copy of the book and finished it in a few sittings. Whilst I wouldn’t say that it was the best book that I’ve ever read, far from it, it certainly was gripping and hard to put down.

With the book being as successful as it was, selling over 60 million copies, it was hardly a surprise when it was announced that it was being adapted into a movie. Like the book, the film was immensely successful grossing over $700,000,000 at the box office.

The Da Vinci Code finds, Symbologist, Professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) on a business trip in Paris is summoned to the Louvre following the death of the museum’s curator, who Langdon was set to meet. Captain Bezu Fache (Jean Reno) assumes Langdon, of being guilty of the crime, but agent and cryptologist Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou), who happens to be the recently deceased’s granddaughter, believes otherwise and helps Langdon escape Fache’s clutches. Leading them on a trail across Europe following clues to expose the true identity of her grandfathers’ assassin and expose a secret that would undermine the authority of the Catholic Church.

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Not being the biggest fans of Ron Howard or Tom Hanks I was less than enthusiastic when I learned that they were to be involved. I checked out the movie anyway, as I was interested to see how the material translated from the page to the screen. Leaving the cinema I was under-whelmed, to say the least, the material didn’t seem to transfer well at all and at two and a half hours long the theatrical release seemed very dull.

Despite this I’ve wanted to re-visit the film for some time, to see if I’d been a harsh judge, the Blu-ray release has provided me with the perfect opportunity.

The Blu-ray release is the extended cut at the movie, with a run-time of just under three hours, features about half an hour’s worth of additional material than the theatrical release. The movie benefits no end from this, making it a much better viewing experience as a result; the pace of The Da Vinci Code seems better, as does the overall feel and, strangely, it doesn’t seem boring and drag on like the theatrical cut did.

This may be due to the fact that it’s transferred to Blu-ray well and, for the most part, the picture is excellent with very few, noticeable, faults. The sound is also, for the most part, excellent – there are a couple of occasions where the dialogue isn’t clear but the sense of atmosphere created by the score is very effective.

I’m not Hanks’ biggest fan, but his performance here is solid and he does the character of Professor Langdon justice, Audrey Tautou is also decent, if not outstanding. The highlights, performance-wise, come from many of the, high calibre, supporting cast that includes Sir Ian McKellen (playing a Sir), Alfred Molina and Paul Bettany. The casting of Jean Reno as Fache is close to perfect, he’s a fine actor who does the role great justice.

Whilst I still don’t think that the movie is amazing, my opinion of it has increased significantly after watching the extended cut on Blu-ray.

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Extras Sony seem to have gone all out on the Blu-ray release of The Da Vinci Code, if the extended cut of the movie being presented in 1080p with very few faults in the visual and audio transfer, wasn’t enough they’ve loaded the 2 discs with an array of extras. Disc 2 features the majority of these, packing in a load of documentaries totaling just over 2 hours. These range from 2-25 minutes in length and vary greatly in terms of how interesting they are.

I found most to be pretty dull, but there are a few engaging moments. The majority of these documentaries were on the DVD release, but there are a few exclusives to the Blu-ray. Disc 2 also features trailers for Close Encounters Of The Third Kind: 30th anniversary edition, Damages: season 1and Seven Pounds.

Disc 1 is where the majority of Blu-ray exclusives can be found. Ever wanted chat, online, to other people watching The Da Vinci Code at the same time as you? No? Me either. For those who do, Sony have been kind enough to include Cinechat which allows people to do just that. Ace!

That aside, they have included one of the best interactive picture in picture features I’ve come across – Unlocking the code is incredibly slick and well presented and provides viewers with bits of information throughout the movie. Generally, I find these kinds of things distracting but it’s quite good here.

You’ve also got the commentary on select scenes with Ron Howard and a first look at,the story that proceeded The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons. You get a four-minute scene as well as the theatrical trailer.

Overall, Sony has put together a very good package here. It’s loaded with plenty of extras as well as some interactive Blu-Ray exclusives and the transfer is very good, bordering on excellent. One of the best transfers I’ve seen for a non-animated movie.

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The release coincides nicely with the release of ‘Angels & Demons’ which is out on the 14th May. I’d say that this is a must-buy for anyone who’s a fan of the movie and it’s certainly worth a rent for those who aren’t as If, like me, you were under-whelmed by the theatrical release, it’s worth revisiting and reevaluating your opinion of the movie. What I once found to be a fairly dull affair, I now find a decent, if not outstanding, thriller.


2 stars

The Da Vinci Code [Blu-ray] is available now.


3 out of 5