The Da Vinci Code (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 9 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

It was inevitable. We all knew it would happen. And it did. Love it or hate it, ?The Da Vinci Code? is something that we knew would come to the big screen and all controversy aside; we just didn?t know when. As it turns out Ron Howard took the reigns and once again is working with old pal Tom Hanks. Though in all honesty, they?ve only worked twice before (?Splash? and ?Apollo 13?). Before I delve into the plot, I feel it necessary to give my two cents on what all of the uproar is about. First of all, I?m not Catholic, but after watching the movie I suppose I could see where the Catholic Church is none too pleased with this movie. I didn?t read the book, so I don?t know what, if anything has been changed. And I know enough about religion to recognize that this could (and did) offend some people but all that aside?it?s a movie folks. Movies are works of fiction and no matter how much they may discredit our beliefs at the end of the day it?s a work of fiction plain and simple. I?ve heard of author Dan Brown?s alleged plagiarism and I don?t care. The bottom line is that as a lover of film, I want to be entertained and you know what? I was.

Like James Bond, Dirk Pitt or Jack Ryan ? Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) joins the storied ranks of heroes who come from a line of books in which he is the protagonist. Langdon is greeted by the French police at a lecture so that he might investigate a murder that took place in the Louvre Museum. Unbeknownst to him, he soon finds out that he?s actually the prime suspect and manages to escape with the help of French cryptographer Sophie (Audrey Tatou). Their goal is simple, find out who the murder really was and stay one step ahead of the French authorities without being arrested. Naturally, there?s more to the case than meets the eye. This murder is something special and we learn that there?s trouble in the Catholic Church. In a nutshell, it seems that they (the Catholic Church) have been hiding the fact that Jesus Christ had a wife and a line of descendants to this very day. As the cryptic clues start to make a little more sense, Langdon enlists the help of old colleague Leigh Teabing (Ian McKellen) to help decipher the pieces of the puzzle.

I have to admit that the premise of the movie is quite intriguing and as I write this review I have a copy of ?The Da Vinci Code? staring right at me. I?ve got a long flight coming up and I just might take the plunge and read the book as well. I will say that, not being Catholic, I could see what the commotion was about but religion is something that?s never been a huge part of my life. I have to say that it?s good to see the duo of Ron Howard and Tom Hanks back together again and Hanks has once again crafted a great performance. He has a way of making even the stiffest characters seem interesting and enigmatic. The supporting cast plays a huge role as well with some major star power: Alfred Molina, Paul Bettany, Jean Reno and Ian McKellan giving some great performances. While I?m sure there are others out there that have a more polarized opinion about the movie, I tried to watch it and just be entertained. And I say again ? I was.

Video: How does it look?

“The Da Vinci Code” comes to Blu-ray in a good-looking 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer. This film was originally supposed to be one of the initial releases on Blu-ray, but Sony held it back to see how the format war was going to end. As it turns out, this release is being debuted to time with the upcoming “Angels and Demons”. Nevertheless, “The Da Vinci Code” looks good, though it wasn’t as pristine as I figured it might have been. Black levels are right on target and though I saw a little noise in some of the scenes, the thing that really got me was that the image seemed a bit soft overall. The detail is good, but didn’t seem to have that “razor sharp” hard edge that some of the other titles do. Flesh tones seemed warm and natural. Fans will be pleased with the way this looks, though I feel it could have been a bit better.

Audio: How does it sound?

We have a fairly standard Dolby TrueHD soundtrack that’s exceptionally active in the surrounds during some key moments. Dialogue is at the heart of the film and it sounds perfect – no complaint here. As far as action movies go, there are more robust soundtracks but this one seems a bit subdued at times. Does it sound bad? Not at all. But when you pop in your copy of this movie, I don’t think you should expect demo material for sure.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The original standard DVD contained two discs and had its fare share of extras. This Blu-ray release ports over all of those extras, plus some more. More importantly this film is the unrated extended cut which runs nearly three hours. I don’t think there’s a way to watch the theatrical cut, so be prepared for a long ride (though it’s fun to watch, of course). This two-disc set ports over all of the supplements from the standard DVD and adds a few new ones as well. We start off with a “select scene” commentary by director Ron Howard. This covers about 30 minutes of the nearly three hour long movie but his comments are very interesting. He’s very articulate in what he says and my only disappointment was that it wasn’t a full-length track. We also get a picture-in-picture feature which is a bit difficult to use (which must be why a demo was included). It’s neat, but I fear that if it’s too hard to use then it might turn off viewers. The main draw is the featurettes, which include six more new ones from the previous dozen found on the standard DVD. In essence, it’s one big long documentary just cut up into different featurettes. You can watch all of them in order or pick and choose (personally I chose to watch them in order). A few BD Live features are also thrown in with “Cinechat” which allows you to watch the movie with others and you’re able to chat with them. I’m not sure how many people will be watching a three year old movie at the same time, but it’s a novel concept to be sure. Lastly, we get a preview for “Angels and Demons” which, let’s face it, is the real reason this movie is coming out on Blu-ray to begin with. This is a worthwhile upgrade from the previous standard DVD with more features and improved audio and video and if you’re a fan, it’s a no-brainer.

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