The Da Vinci Code: Extended Cut (2006) - 2-Disc Set [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Adventure / Drama / Mystery / Thriller
Sony || Unrated - 174 minutes - $38.96 || April 28, 2009
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-05-01


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Ron Howard
Writer(s): Dan Brown (novel); Akiva Goldsman (screenplay)
Cast: Tom Hanks, Audrey Tatou, Ian McKellen, Alfred Molina, Paul Bettany


Theatrical Release Date: May 19, 2006


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Unlocking the Code PiP
  • Select Scene Commentary
  • Cinechat
  • 17 Featurettes
  • BD-Live


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (Dolby TrueHD 5.1), French (Dolby TrueHD 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

This new “Extended Cut” adds in about 25-minutes of new footage and quite frankly, and even though I appreciate an unrated cut actually offering more than a minute of new scenes, the extra shots here don’t really add that much to the overall story. In fact, it’s a shame Sony chose not to include the theatrical version for this Blu-ray release...

In any case, the extra footage includes some new dialogue, some more shots and extended scenes. One example is when Langdon and Sophie try to escape from the museum they are encountered by an officer. Sophie threatens to cut up a priceless painting after which the officer drops his gun, and they make their escape as it was originally shown. The problem with this scene is it didn’t feel right. Sure, it was funny but did it add to the story? Was it a needed break in the suspense? I’d argue that the suspense was just picking up and this scene merely stopped the momentum more than anything. And there were other scenes like this that didn’t feel natural. I would’ve preferred to have seen these as deleted scenes.

But after watching The Da Vinci Code for only the third time, my opinion of the film hasn’t changed much. I probably appreciated Salvatore Totino’s cinematography more but the story still didn’t do much for me. Ian McKellen still gives the best performance of the film (and one could argue he deserved an Oscar nomination for it), but when you have a talented pool with Hanks, Bettany and Molina, I expected more.

I have included my ORIGINAL THEATRICAL REVIEW with minor edits:

"I'm into something here that I cannot understand." In that one instance, I can emphasize with Mr. Langdon. I cannot understand the hype either.

If you haven't seen the countless news stories already, The Da Vinci Code is based upon the cult phenomenon book by author Dan Brown about Harvard professor/cryptologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks), called in by French detective Bezu Fache (Jean Reno) to provide some insight into the death of a museum curator. However, he soon discovers he was not there to help, but instead to become the prime suspect into the murder. With the help of the curator's granddaughter, Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou), they join forces to find out who killed her grandfather and why.

Meanwhile, we follow Bishop Aringarosa (Alfred Molina) and his own quest with the aid of albino Silas (Paul Bettany) to find the key to... well, I won't ruin it for the one or two of you who don't know or haven't read the book.

Speaking of which, I must admit that although I am one of the 45 million who purchased the book, I only made it maybe a fourth of the way through. I can only speak for, as far as accuracy goes, to only a portion of the film and, from what I can tell, it seemed to be faithful. However, that does not mean I liked it...

The biggest problem -- but not the only one -- I had with The Da Vinci Code was the pacing. Even though Ron Howard, producer Brian Grazer and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman were at least semi-faithful to Dan Brown's book (remember, I've only read a part of the book), that might've been detrimental to the value of the movie overall. There are certain sections that flowed well, only to be undone with so much talking, explanation and lecture, I felt like I was back in college as my professor drones on about things I could care less about.

What's most interesting is the 2004 Nicholas Cage action-adventure National Treasure also explores and manipulates history to give a fun atmosphere and an all around entertaining flick. Obviously by its very nature, The Da Vinci Code cannot be as whimsy as Treasure due to the dark tone, but it instead of giving an interesting treasure and mystery hunt, it felt more like being dragged along rather than willing to explore and find out the next clue (and in the end, what it all means).

Also disappointing beyond pacing and suspense (or lack thereof), is the acting from such a talented cast. First, Tom Hanks -- one of my favorite actors who, no matter what kind of film, can do no wrong -- seemed to, and I truly hate using this term, phone-in his performance. As the leading man, and the one audience members follow, Hanks presents a character without much behind him. Most of the time, I can watch Tom Hanks get lost in his characters but here, I was looking at Tom Hanks, in a mullet-esque haircut no less, playing a guy named Langdon.

And the same can be said for most of the supporting characters including Audrey Tautou, who is sorely miscast in a important role to play opposite an even diluted Tom Hanks performance, Jean Reno, Alfred Molina and even Paul Bettany (though I must admit, he was indeed pretty damn scary and certainly creepy). For instance, and this is spoiler material here, Alfred Molina basically is a father figure to a psychologically disturbed Bettany, but I didn't feel the emotion between the two. Sure, Aringarosa was using Silas for the needs of the Opus Dei, but their outcomes had no resonance and therefore, the film as little impact in that area.

However, it's veteran (perhaps legendary as he's been in so many major films in the past few years) Ian McKellen that delivers the best performance out of the bunch. It's not to say it's anything magical, but he was the only one I even remotely was interested in and probably saved this film from becoming a complete dog. His character is eccentric, full of energy and seemed to be the only one involved with the story with any sort of grandeur or amazement. The events that transpire make the President's recorded confession of murder on "24" (season 5) look like an everyday occurrence (which I guess it is on "24").

The Da Vinci Code is not a bad film but instead more... disappointing. This is why adapting a novel is difficult as books hold so much information that it is nearly impossible to include everything needed, so one wonders if this was the case here. I consider Code to be disappointing, not the major stinker that some around have trashed it.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

DISC 1:
Unlocking the Code Interactive Picture-in-Picture is sort of like Universal’s U-CONTROL (although not as nice looking). With this feature turned on, you can watch PiP interviews (cast and crew), behind-the-scenes footage, trivia, etc. I actually liked this feature but it could’ve been better if the trivia parts could be displayed at the same time as the PiP info (which is displayed on different parts of the screen). I should note that most of the footage was taken from the variety of featurettes which can be viewed on the second disc. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

The only problem with this feature is with it turned on, regular subtitles are not displayed and there is plenty of French dialogue.

Here is the rundown of features:
- Interviews
- Storyboards
- Prop Talk
- B-Roll
- Photos
- Symbols & Codes
- Langdon’s Journey (map)
- Location Trivia

Select Scene Commentary (38:52) – Director Ron Howard provides comments on 27 scenes. At first I wished there was a feature length track but this was just as good especially since Howard isn’t exactly the most fascinating commentator... ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

BD-Live where you can redeem the code for a free ticket (sent to you via e-mail) to see Angels and Demons, plus other features including “Exclusive Highlights from the Red Carpet at the Angels & Demons Premiere” and some previews. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Cinechat allows you to talk with friends while you watch the movie. Only redeeming quality is that you can use your computer to do the chatting rather than the cumbersome remote keyboard. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

First Look at Angels & Demons (5:10) – We get a scene/sequence from The Da Vinci Code sequel preceded by a minute long introduction by Ron Howard explaining why he chose this scene (because it doesn’t give too much of the plot away). This is followed by the trailer for Angels & Demons. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

DISC 2:
The following features have been ported from the previous 2-disc DVD. For the sake of time and space, I will just provide a sentence on what the featurette is about.

First Day on the Set with Ron Howard (2:17) – The director is on the set, at the Louvre back in 2005 explaining working with Tom Hanks for the first time since 1995’s Apollo 13.

A Discussion with Dan Brown (4:52) – The Da Vinci Code author Brown talks about where the ideas for the novel came from.

A Portrait of Langdon (7:18) – Tom Hanks, Ron Howard, Dan Brown and others talk about the Langdon character and how Hanks encompassed the role so well.

Who is Sophie Neveu? (6:58) – Another character profile for the role of Sophie where more members of the cast and crew talk about the character and casting Audrey Tautou who was picked amongst many actresses, including bigger names.

Unusual Suspects (17:58) – The rest of the supporting cast (Jean Reno, Ian McKellen, Alfred Molina) are covered under this featurette with more interviews from the cast and crew (director, casting director).

Magic Places (15:58) – The featurette goes over the filming locations in and around Paris, London and Scotland. Ron Howard talks about the importance of certain places to shoot, especially the opening scene at the Louver.

Close-Up on the Mona Lisa (6:37) covers the famous Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting with Ron Howard and Dan Brown (plus Tom Hanks and others) discussing, and noting how small it is.

The Filmmakers’ Journey Part One (24:40) and Part Two (12:20) is a bigger ‘making-of’ featurette about how the film came about starting with the involvement of Ron Howard and producer Brian Grazer moving into location scouting and other filmmaking process. It’s less a linear ‘making-of’ and more allows the cast and crew to talk about the project.

The Codes of The Da Vinci Code (5:33) discusses the codes within the codes (or trivia) featured in the film, some are harder to see than others. The majority of the featurette goes through some of them.

The Music of The Da Vinci Code (2:54) and Scoring The Da Vinci Code (9:44) covers the motion picture score composed by Hans Zimmer. Some of the score was recorded within a chapel to get the right acoustics. Zimmer talks about how he came to the project while working on an anniversary edition of Backdraft.

Book to Screen (11:06) obvious is about adapting the record-selling novel to the big screen. Dan Brown talks about his plans for the books (envisioned as a trilogy) and wanting to sell the rights after the books were out, but eventually went ahead with the caliber of talent that was interested.

The Da Vinci Props (9:43) and The Da Vinci Sets (9:10) both go over some of the on-set aspects of the filming from making the cryptex to designing the sets.

Recreating Works of Art (6:03) is an interesting featurette if only to find out that there is an artist who can create an exact replica of certain pieces of art, including the Mona Lisa. Crew members also talk about how the art tells the story.

The Visual Effects World of The Da Vinci Code (15:03) includes behind-the-scenes footage of how visual effects were used with some comparisons between on-set filming to the final product.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

I have to admit, I was a little shocked just at how soft the picture was on this Blu-ray. Although the colors looked fine and black levels about right, facial and background details wasn’t very clear. However, contrast was perfect so even though I was disappointed with the soft nature of the film, it is a step above the DVD. Overall, the 1080p high-definition transfer is good but nothing great and certainly not reference material. I’m not sure if the faults in the picture are from a less-than-perfect transfer or the directorial decisions of Ron Howard. The movie comes to Blu-ray in its original aspect ratio (2.40) on two 50GB Blu-ray discs and MPEG-4 video codec and 1080p high-definition.

On the other hand, the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track (also available in French) actually sounds pretty good, especially with Hans Zimmer’s fantastic, and slightly underrated, score. Dialogue levels were solid coming from the center channel and with Zimmer’s score and some ambient noises -- as well as cars crashing -- the other speakers get some good use. Plus, my subwoofer was also getting a good workout with certain (aka dramatic) gunfire like in the beginning, or once again, Hans Zimmer’s heavy orchestral music.



.::OVERALL::.

The Da Vinci Code: Extended Cut isn’t all that much different from the theatrical version despite the extra 25-minutes of new footage. 1. I wish Sony had also included theatrical version as well and 2. provided the deleted scenes as a separate feature. As it stands, this Blu-ray has some great special features and the TrueHD audio sounds good, but the video falls short with soft visuals (though the colors looked good). Overall, I still recommend this as a purchase especially if you liked the movie the first go around.