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Da Vinci Code - Blu-Ray

Sunday, 24 May 2009 13:07

"The Da Vinci Code" tells the story of how symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is drawn into the ancient battle between the Catholic Church and a secret society which guards something hidden that could shake the Church to its very foundations, or even destroy it.

He is joined in this adventure by cryptologist Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou) and the action moves from Paris to the French countryside, London and Scotland in a desperate search for the Holy Grail. Allong the way, he is aided by Sir Leigh Teabing (Ian McKellen in a role he seems to be enjoying a little bit too much) and chased by the French Police in the shape of Captain Bezou Fache (Jean Reno) and the albino monk Silas (Paul Bettany). But then you already knew that, right? (There can be few people who by now have not either read the book, seen the film, or both).

Da Vinci Code on Blu-RayBased on the international bestseller by Dan Brown the film, directed by Ron Howard, was a commercial success but a critical flop when first released.

With the upcoming release of a screen adaptation of one of Brown's earlier books, "Angels and Demons", also directed by Howard and starring Hanks, "The Da Vinci Code" has been re-released on a special two-disc edition Blu-ray with an additional 28 minutes of footage added to the film itself, and a stack of extras both on the main and supplemental discs.

The Film

The film was originally fairly long at 149 minutes, but this new cut extends that to nearly three hours. What it adds are a number of great scenes that, although not essential to the narrative, flesh out many of the characters, not least that of the albino monk Silas, played so skillfully by Bettany, and his relationship with his mentor the Catholic Bishop Manuel Aringarosa (Alfred Molina).

If you hadn't read the book before seeing the film, some of the character motivations could have seemed unclear, but this new cut of the film improves that significantly by providing many pieces of character back-story that were missing from the original theatrical cut. The question is, does this make the film any better?

At its heart this is still a popcorn flick even if it is one with a massive budget and a stellar cast. The film moves from action set-pieces to scenes full of hokey exposition, but is at its best when it imperils the main characters, forcing them to think and act quickly. Overall it's a great Saturday-night-in flick and well worth adding to your collection.


The Blu-Ray release includes a host of additional features. The disc supports BD Live, so if your Blu-Ray player is connected to the internet you can access a special menu that allows you to download movie previews and exclusive clips; for example, the cast and crew interviews from the red carpet of the Angels and Demons Premiere in Rome.

BD Live also supports something called CineChat, which allows you to text-chat with friends who are watching the movie as well. This feature seems a little pointless as those who have a high-definition TV and a Blu-Ray player are almost certainly going to have a laptop or mobile phone capable of accessing the internet, and are more likely to be chatting with their friends by that method rather than using their Blu-Ray player.

Another interactive feature is called Unlocking the Code. This is an interactive Picture-In-Picture feature that provides options for viewing behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, pictures of props, storyboards and on-set photos and even an interactive map showing Robert Langdon's location. This is great for second and subsequent play-throughs of the film, because there are so many overlapping options available and only one can show at a time so there are plenty of things to see. The only minor niggle is that the top and bottom of the screen are taken up by static coloured borders, and plasma TV owners may see some screen burn after three hours of viewing.

Also on the main disc are some short scene commentaries from Ron Howard. These cover details of some of the restored scenes and his views of the different actors involved in the project. These can be watched individually or as a group only cover select scenes and not the whole film.

The second disc in the set includes 17 (yeah, count 'em!) featurettes covering everything from the making of the film, through to music, visual effects and portraits of key characters. There's over an hour and forty minutes of material to get through including one short featurette explaining some of the hidden meanings in the what would otherwise seem to be random set dressings, posters and logos.

Overall the package is excellent value but make sure you have a profile 2.0 capable Blu-ray player to get the most our of it.

The Blu-Ray set retails at £19.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com 


Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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