The Da Vinci Code
The Da Vinci Code is not a great film but it is probably as good a film as can be made from the book. The book has been admirably condensed and the movie touches on all the key segments of the book. That said, it’s pretty amazing that the book, read over 2 ½ days, kept us hooked all the way while the movie, at just 2 ½ hours, seems to drag at a few places.
Since it’s pretty much a treasure hunt, the movie and its characters are always on the move and this gives it a good pace. Puzzles to decode and codes to crack are always a good way to involve the audience and this film is chockfull of them. As Hanks and Audrey move from one puzzle to another, they take us along with them. The exotic locations also offer some nice eye-candy.
There are some aspects that translate well from the written page to the screen and those are naturally the best parts of the film. Hanks’ first lecture on the interpretation of symbols and some of the chases, both on foot and in cars, fall into this category. The puzzles that have a visual dimension also gain by being shown on screen.
On the other hands, word and number puzzles are best suited for reading. We absorb them and try to solve them in our minds even as we continue reading. So there is genuine elation when the solution is revealed. That is missing in the film. Due to time constraints, the puzzles are solved almost as soon as they are presented, giving us little time to appreciate them. So these scenes feel too rushed and there little or no buildup and suspense.
Hanks seems a little confused on whether to play Langdon seriously or make him campy like the story itself. He opts for the former and sometimes looks a little too serious. Audry Tatou looks cute and Jean Reno plays his part with his usual gruffness. Ian McKellan fits his role perfectly and gets to make of the big revelations in the story.