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“The Da Vinci Code” (Extended Edition)-(Blu-ray)
Reviewer:
Wayne Klein
Studio: Sony Home Video
Genre:
Drama
Release Date:
4/28/09
Special Features:

Documentary, PIP “Unlocking the Code”, scene specific commentary by director Ron Howard, Cine Chat via Blu-ray Live link, preview of “Angels & Demons” (in HD)

Review:

Ron Howard’s “The Da Vinci Code” stumbles around like a mime in the dark—The visual entertainment is replaced by a noisy crash that really has nothing to do with the entertainment itself. Harold Robbins in his time remained one of the most popular authors penning trashy novels. Dan Brown has become the respectable version of Robbins—he’s an author with some good ideas that he can’t express very well. The Da Vinci Code sold well not because it was great literature, well written but because it caused a controversy when it was released (although other novels tackled equally controversial versions of Jesus’ life such as The Last Temptation of Christ and the novel Behold the Man by Michael Moorcock neither was what you would call populist entertainment) what made it unique was the veneer of a conspiracy story involving the Catholic Church covering up clues seen in Leonard Da Vinci’s famous painting The Last Supper about the “true” leadership within the church itself (saying any more would be a major spoiler). ***

That said, this extended edition Blu-ray clearly was designed for those who love the book and the film. This edition runs 175 minutes and some change without the previous and new extras. ***

Regardless of how you feel about “The Da Vinci Code as a novel although Howard’s film stumbles it still is entertaining in a pulpy way. Casting Tom Hanks remains an important element of the film because even when this cow goes astray or loses its pacing he and the supporting cast manage to wrangle it back into the narrative pen that keeping it altogether. Hanks appeal and performance makes the film watchable even as the narrative becomes increasingly absurd (once we reach an albino monk doing the bidding of a “secret society” the film crosses over into Oz with only Hanks’ Dorothy holding it together). “The Da Vinci Code” could have come out of the Cold War and you could substitute elements of the plot and make the bad guys Communist without losing too much of its pulpy allure. That’s because truly it IS the essence of old fashioned pulp populist fiction. There’s nothing wrong with that just don’t come expecting anything other than entertainment and some absurd characters that are colorful enough to have come from a Bond film. ---

Image & Sound:

if there was a secret code hidden in the visuals of the Blu-ray the transfer would reveal all; “Code” looks marvelous with nice, subtle detail evident in just about every scene. Colors remain true to the theatrical exhibition of the film. DNR has been used with restraint preventing the film from looking like we are touring a wax museum. ***

The 7.1 TrueHD presentation of the film sounds marvelous with a lot of activity and nice ambient sounds in the quieter dialog driven scenes that don’t overwhelm the film in a swamp of sound.

Special Features:

Sony has been quite generous packing this set with new material in addition to the original DVD featurettes from the special edition. We get an excellent documentary that’s broken into chucks focusing on everything from the beginning of shooting challenges of shooting on location without the Vatican’s approval. Brown also briefly discusses his take on the religious backlash against the novel (which was relatively minor compared to “The Last Temptation of Christ”). ***

Director Ron Howard provides us with scene specific commentary tracks with a wealth of information. Why Howard didn’t tackle a full length commentary track is a mystery that maybe Dan Brown can solve in his next novel. ***

We also get “Unlocking the Code” a pip interactive track which, if you unlock the code, you can access to a variety of special features. Look for the icon and click and you’ll be on your journey. ***

“Cine Chat” allows you to text others online while you’re watching the movie via the Blu-rary Live link. ***

An “Angels and Demons” preview is also included in HD. ---

Final Words:

Those who enjoyed “The Da Vinci Code” will enjoy this new deluxe Blu-ray. It looks and sounds great AND has exclusive features that aren’t on the previously issued DVD. Whether or not you’ll want this will probably depend on how much of a fan you are of the film and Brown’s book. This extended edition has been lovingly designed for fans of the film. ***

The Bottom Line: Picture: 8.5/10, Sound: 8/10 Extras: 8/10

 

 
 
 
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