Blu-ray Review: THE DA VINCI CODE – Extended cut.

Sony Pictures Honme Entertainment
Release date: April 28th, 2009
MSRP: $38.96

Stars: Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Jean Reno, Ian McKellen, Paul Bettany
Director: Ron Howard
Writers: Akiva Goldsman (screenplay), Dan Brown (novel)
Theatrical release date: May 19th, 2006

Is there anyone that has not seen The Da Vinci Code? If not, you likely have seen some of the stinky rip-offs (National Treasure comes to mind) that followed it.

It may seem easy to transfer a successful action tale to the big screen, but it is not. It requires many things, including a director that is up to the task. Enter Ron Howard . My opinion of Howard is that he is a journeyman director. While he is not a visionary or a master, he is one that can be counted on not to drop the ball. When hundreds of millions are being invested, you need a director that can handle the pressure and give the audience what they want. Ron Howard is that man.

The producers did everything right: They put together an excellent cast, got an outstanding screenwriter and used a director that would not crack under the pressure of adapting the most popular novel in the history of popular novels (Ok, there may have been bigger ones, but I am too lazy to look it up. Even if I did, I might lose the ability to use that hyperbole.) As I said, Ron Howard has proven he has ice water in his veins; he shall not crack under pressure like a lesser man would. Now there may be one or two of you that have not heard of The Da Vinci Code…no, actually I don’t think that is possible. You all have some idea of what the Code is about.

Tom Hanks stars as Robert Langdon, a professor that studies symbols. Rather than make his character a know it all, he comes across as a very bright man, but still the kind of person that might really exist.

He is drawn into a murder investigation when a museum curator that he was supposed to meet with is found murdered. The body is arranged like Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous Vitruvian man, and a cryptic message has been written in the dead man’s blood.

Upon finding out he is a suspect; Langdon is the run, trying to solve the puzzle left by a dying man. He teams with that man’s niece as they race against sinister forces, as well as the police, to unlock a mystery that may rock the very foundation of modern Christianity.

This is the extended cut. The segments, about 28 minutes worth, added flesh out the story and it flows better as a result. The downside is that an already long film just got longer and now clocks in at 2:54. Any longer and we start wandering into Dancing with Wolves territory.

The Da Vinci Code is presented in 1080p with a ratio of 2.35:1. How does it look? Good, but not great. To me, the picture looks a bit soft. That takes away from some of the details. The color is great and the contrast is very good. But that softness was enough that I noticed it (unless it is just me).

The audio is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1. This is quite good. When I originally saw the film, I had some trouble with Audrey’s soft, accented voice. Here, it comes out very clear and was much easier for me to understand.

The overall sound is fantastic, with an excellent mix of background music and dialogue. The dramatic music really enhanced the viewing experience. More so than when I saw the DVD.

There is also a French Dolby TrueHD track as well. Subtitles are presented in English, English SDH, and French languages.

Extras: Sony does exactly what should be done when reissuing a film on BD: Include the previous materials and toss in some new stuff. Everything from the 2-DVD special edition is included here.

Book to Screen runs about eleven minutes and includes Howard, author Dan Brown as well as the film’s writers and producers. This promotes Brown as much as it does the film, but includes some interesting discussion about adapting the book.
Recreating Works of Art is six minutes long and talks about how they recreated the Lource. Actually a very interesting piece. I kind of wish they would have spent more time here.

Also included are featurettes on props, sets, visual effects and the music. Each of these run between nine and fifteen minutes.

This set is for fans of Brown and the film. There is nothing in the extended cut that is going to change anyone’s mind about the movie. As I said, the new, and extended, scenes make some things a little clearer and the film does flow a little better, but it is still essentially the same film.

But with the new features and HD presentation, fans of the film will likely be quite pleased with what Sony has offered up here.

Order THE DA VINCI CODE on Blu-ray.

Jeremy Lynch
For more reviews from myself, and the rest of the Crimespree crew, check out the index of reviews.