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THE DA VINCI CODE: EXTENDED CUT 2-DISC SET (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

May 11, 2009 by  



“A gripping and suspenseful film, ‘THE DAVINCI CODE’ has you on the edge of your seats from the beginning to end.  The Extended Cut version definitely makes the film much more enjoyable than the original theatrical cut.  Beautiful cinematography and location shots and overall, a controversial storyline worth checking out.  ‘THE DA VINCI CODE: EXTENDED CUT’ looks and sounds absolute marvelous on Blu-ray via High Definition!  And also jam-packed with special features galore!  Definitely recommended!”

Images courtesy of © 2006 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: THE DA VINCI CODE: EXTENDED CUT 2-DISC SET

DURATION: 174 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), Screen Format(s): Anamorphic, Language(s): English and French Dolby TrueHD.  Subtitles(s): English (US), French (Parisian)

RATED: NOT RATED

COMPANY: Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: April 28, 2009

Directed by Ron Howard

Based on the original novel by Dan Brown

Screenplay by Akiva Goldsman

Executive Produced by Dan Brown, Todd Hallowell

Produced by John Calley, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard

Associated Producers: Kathleen McGill and Louisa Velis

Music by Hans Zimmer

Director of Photography: Salvatore Totino

Edited by Daniel P. Hanley and Mike Hill

Casting by Janet Hirshenson and Jane Jenkins

Production Design by Allan Cameron

Art Direction by Giles Masters and Tony Reading

Set Decoration by Richard Roberts

Costume Design by Daniel Orlandi

Starring:

Tom Hanks as Dr. Robert Langdon

Audrey Tautou as Agent Sophie Neveu

Ian McKellen as Sir Leigh Teabiing

Jean Reno as Captain Bezu Fache

Paul Bettany as Silas

Alfred Molina as Bishop Manuel Aringarosa

Jurgen Prochnow as Andre Vernet

Jean-Yves Berteloot as Remy Jean

Etienne Chicot as Lt. Collet

Jean-Pierre Marielle as Jacques Sauniere

Dan Brown’s international bestseller comes alive in the film The Da Vinci Code, directed by Ron Howard with a screenplay by Akiva Goldsman. Join symbologist Robert Langdon (Academy Award® winner Tom Hanks, 1993 Best Actor, Philadelphia, and 1994 Best Actor, Forrest Gump) and cryptologist Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou) in their heart-racing quest to solve a bizarre murder mystery that will take them from France to England – and behind the veil of a mysterious ancient society, where they discover a secret protected since the time of Christ. With first-rate performances by Sir Ian McKellen, Alfred Molina and Jean Reno, critics are calling The Da Vinci Code “involving”* and “intriguing,”* “a first rate thriller.”**

When Dan Brown’s novel “THE DA VINCI CODE” was released back in 2003, the novel received plenty of criticism and scrutiny.  As the book would focus on “The Holy Grail” and the theory that Jesus Christ was married to Mary Magdalene and the Catholic Church has done all it can to cover that up.  Then upon the release of the film version based on the novel in 2006, the Roman Catholic Church and Catholics boycotted the film.

If anything, the hype from the film earned the film $232.1 million worldwide during its opening, making it the seventh biggest opening for a film in history and also the second highest grossing movie in 2006 worldwide with over $758 million in profit making it the most financially successful film for both actor Tom Hanks and Director Ron Howard.

The film starts off with a man named Jacques Sauniere (Jean-Pierre Marielle) who is being pursued by a man wearing a hood named Silas (Paul Bettany).  With a gun aimed at Sauniere, Silas demands the location of the Priory’s “clef de voute”, which is a key.   Sauniere who feels he will be spared by confessing is shot in the stomach.  But before he dies, he is able to make a message.

Meanwhile, Symbiologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is giving a lecture on symbols in Paris.  While signing books, he is approached by Captain Bezu Fache (Jean Reno) with the bad news about his friend.  Langdon tells F ache that he was supposed to meet with Sauniere earlier in the day but he never called.  But after seeing the gruesome photo of Sauniere’s death, Langdon is brought to the crime scene at the Louvre.

Before Sauniere had died, he was able to create a message using black light ink and the blood from his body.  Fache asks for Langdon to translate the message but Langdon has no idea.  Meanwhile, Agent Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou), a cryptologist for the French police comes up to the crime scene and tells Langdon that he has an emergency call.  The call tells him that he’s in trouble and he needs to escape.

Langdon goes to the restroom and sees Agent Neveu who explains to him that he has been setup and that there is a GPS tracker in his coat jacket.  Langdon can’t believe he is being looked as a suspect but most of all, he can’t believe what has happened to Sauniere and to learn that Neveu is Sauniere’s granddaughter.  And that a message next to the body of Sauniere showed a message (before it was erased) that Robert Langdon should be contacted.  Now, Neveu wants to know why her grandfather and Langdon are brought together.

Neveu throws the GPS tracker on a vehicle and as Fache and his men think that Langdon has escaped and leave the Louvre, both Langdon and Neveu revisit Sauniere’s body and learn that he has left secrets to them including a key.  This leads to both Langdon and Neveu becoming fugitives and are wanted by the law.

The two are taken throughout Europe as they look for clues to Sauniere’s death but also to find certain devices that would prove that the “Holy Grail” is real.  Meanwhile, a conspiracy is going on behind-the-scenes at the Roman Catholic Church and Silas is sent to kill both of them.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“THE DA VINCI CODE” on Blu-ray ala 1080p High Definition features a beautiful location shots in France and England and to shoot a film at the actual Museum de Louvre was surprising and very cool (and to learn how everything was recreated to scale and describe further in the special features).  There are really beautiful shots of the various locations throughout Europe and captured beautifully by Salvatore Totino.  Totino’s insistence of using a Long Cooke S4 lens for diffusion filtering gave certain shots a nice, dark and brooding feel at times.  But during the outdoor scenes, the shots are absolutely beautiful.  Totino who made his major Hollywood debut with “Any Given Sunday” and working on films such as “The Missing” and “Cinderella Man” has been Ron Howard’s go to man for cinematography.  Overall, well-done!

The audio is also quite immersive and dialogue is crystal clear.   Primarily the film focuses on dialogue but once the action scenes start, as does Hans Zimmer’s beautiful score.  You get good usage of all channels on your home theater through the Dolby True HD 5.1 soundtrack (English and French).  And its important to note that the film is not an action film but there are a good number of gunshots and chase scenes.  But what shines is Zimmer’s Academy Award nominated score which sets the actual mood of the scene.

Overall, “The Da Vinci Code: Extended Cut” looks and sounds awesome via High Definition.

As for subtitles, English, English SDH and French are included.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“The Da Vinci Code: Extended Cut” is loaded with special features on two-discs.  Some featured in HD and others in standard definition. Included are:

Disc 1:

  • CineChat – Via BD Live, people can chat with other people watching the film or create your own chat room.
  • Select Scenes Commentary with Director Ron Howard – Over 27 scenes that feature commentary by Director Ron Howard.  Because this is the extended version of the film, Ron Howard also goes into detail of the additional/extended scenes.
  • Unlocking the Code Interactive Picture-in-Picture (I-PIP) – There were many hidden codes placed throughout the film.  Included is a Picture-in-Picture interactive display for those who want to watch the film and learn about the codes.
  • Angels & Demons – Featuring an intro by Director Ron Howard on the upcoming film “Angels & Demons” (a Robert Langdon story that takes place before “The Da Vinci Code”).  Intro is about 1:05 and the “Angels & Demons” scene is about 7:26.
  • DISC 2:

  • First Day on the Set with Ron Howard – (2:13) Director Ron Howard talks briefly about bringing Dan Brown’s novel to life.
  • A Discussion With Dan Brown – (4:51) Author Dan Brown talks about being a writer, working on the “Da Vinci Code” and working on a new Robert Langdon book.
  • A Portrait of Langdon – (7:18) Dan Brown, Ron Howard and various producers talk about the Robert Langdon character and Tom Hanks playing the character.
  • Who is Sophie Neveu? – (6:57) Ron Howard talks about Audrey Tautou playing the role of Sophie.  Jane Jenkins, Casting Director talks about how Ron Howard didn’t feel that she was right for the role until he saw an interview on the Charlie Rose show and Director Ron Howard talked about how he learned not to judge a person by a film and how Tautou was the best person for the job.  Audrey talks about her casting experience.
  • Unusual Suspects – (17:57) Director Ron Howard, Jane Jenkins (Casting Director) talks about the casting of the various characters such as  Ian McKellen as Sir Leigh Teabing, Jean Reno as Captain Bezu Fache, Paul Bettany as Silas and Alfred Molina as Bishop Manue Aringarosa.  Interview with these cast members.
  • Magical Places – (15:58) Shooting in Paris, London and throughout Europe to produce various magical settings.
  • Close-up on Mona Lisa – (6:33) Tom Hanks, Ian McKellan, Ron Howard, Audrey Tautou, Jean Reno and more talk about their first impressions when they saw the actual Mona Lisa painting.  Also, how the painting was created and her eyes follows you at every angle.
  • The Filmmakers’ Journey Part 1 (24:40) This featurette goes into location scouting, the look of Robert Langdon feat. an interview with Daniel Orlandi (Costume Designer), Behind-the-Scenes filming and creating the body cast of Sauniere.
  • The Filmmakers’ Journey Part 2 (12:20) This featurette goes into the cinematography of Salvatore Totino, Interviews with Totino and finding the environment and the goal to bring Dan Brown’s film to life.  Dan Brown wants the film to provoke intellectual discussions.
  • The Codes of The Da Vinci Code – (5:31) Director Ron Howard and Dan Brown talk about the various codes planted throughout the film.  The featurette showcases some of them.
  • The Music of The Da Vinci Code – (2:53) Featuring Director Ron Howard and Composer Hans Zimmer and bringing the characters and story to life.
  • Book to Screen – (11:06) – Dan Brown originally wanted to wait for his trilogy before a film was done and also how producer Brian Grazer wanted to get the rights to the film but John Calley, a producer at Sony got it first.  But interesting enough, Director Ron Howard and Grazer were brought aboard the film.  Also, how Ron didn’t know much about the book until his wife, a member of a book club, she and her group were reviewing the book and talked to him about how awesome the book was and sure enough, through word-of-mouth, he decided to direct the film.
  • The Da Vinci Props – (9:42) Interviews with Giles Masters (Art Director), author Dan Brown and how many props were created for this film.  Some fabricated and designed for the film and coming up with the look of objects sucha s the key to the Swiss Bank, he crypt text and more.
  • The Da Vinci Sets – (9:10) Interview with Director Ron Howard, Todd Hallowell about how Allan Cameron (Production Designer) had a major task of recreating the Louvre and creating the many sets especially for the complex flashbacks.  A typical film would be around 50 sets, this film had around 243 and thus a major challenge for the production design team.
  • Re-creating Works of Art – (6:01) Interviews with Allan Cameron (Production Designer), Director Ron Howard, James Gemmil (Head Scenic Artist) and how the Louvre had to be recreated and all the paintings used for the museum were repainted.  Around 135 paintings were recreated for the entire film.
  • The Visual Effects World of The Da Vinci Code – (15:01) Interviews with Barrie Hemsley (Visual Effects Sueprvisor) and crew of Moving Pictures Company in creating the CG flashbacks, showing the history and coming up with the various 3D models utiized on the film.
  • Scoring The Da Vinci Code – (9:42) Featuring Director Ron Howard and Composer Hans Zimmer as an actual church turned to a studio was used.  Zimmer talks about how he never thought a book like “The Da Vinci Code” could be brought to film.  How he worked with Ron Howard on “Backdraft” and how Howard wanted the music to come alive, like it was a character in the film.
  • “THE DA VINCI CODE: EXTENDED CUT” was a thrilling, suspenseful film that in my opinion was smart, well-acted and managed to capture my attention for the entire length of the film.  But by saying that, it’s unfortunate that this extended cut was not shown in the theaters, because those extra scenes of violence featuring Silas and the additional scenes make the film much edgier and understandable.  And the reason for the extended version not being used is probably due to its duration because this extended cut is 174 minutes long (original theatrical version is 149 minutes).

    And the film was not exactly well received by many critics because they felt Director Ron Howard and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman didn’t take any risks, they didn’t show any danger as seen in the original book by Dan Brown.With that being said, the extended cut makes a difference…  A big difference.  But whether or not you are open to film’s premise is up to the viewer.   If anything, as Dan Brown had said in interviews, he wants the film to create intellectual debates.

    Multiple Academy Award winner Tom Hanks plays a likable Robert Langdon, a symbiologist who doesn’t take things as is and has a mind that is constantly working overtime.   If anything, Langdon is an ordinary man who becomes a fugitive for a murder he doesn’t commit.  He is a man that tends to doubt theories of history as stories could have been re-invented due to political and religious times.

    Audrey Tautou who charmed us in “Amelie” plays a convincing cryptologist Sophie Neveu is a person not religious but feels Langdon is her key to finding out who killed her grandfather.  Both Hanks and Tautou compliment each others performances but for those who expect more from Tom Hanks, may be disappointed that in this film, he is no action star but a Harvard professor that utilizes his skill and experience and nothing more.

    Jean Reno plays the side of the cop who takes things into his own hands, a role perfect for Reno and Ian McKellen absolutely shines as the obsessive Sir Leigh Teabing.

    There is no doubt that “THE DA VINCI CODE” would be a controversial film that would challenge the Catholic church.  Anything that challenges an established religion is sure to cause a ruckus and people are defensive about their religion and belief in God.  Especially when it comes to Mary Magdalene’s status.  It will be forever debated of her role, if she was simply a devout follower of Jesus Christ or a loving wife that was kept secret and both have an extended line of children with the bloodline that exist today but is kept hidden.  Whatever your beliefs are or if your ability to suspend your beliefs and to see how the film (and its message) presents itself is up to the viewer.

    But the film seems to be one that one would either love or one would hate.  For me, I was entertained by the film and having watched multiple specials from 20/20 and on The History Channel regarding “THE DA VINCI CODE” and the theories that support and are against the theory is quite interesting.

    But what I found so inspiring was watching the Blu-ray and getting a feel of how much went into this film.  From recreating the Louvre, the production design coming up with over 125 paintings to recreate the museum to the actual props that had to be created and the many locations that had to be shot and the many sets that had to be created.  I was very impressed.

    The Blu-ray as I expected looks and sounds incredible and the special features featured on both discs alone are just outstanding.  So, overall, I felt “THE DA VINCI CODE” to be a very solid Blu-ray release.  But it’s one of those films that it all comes down to the viewer if such a film can be watched over and over again, or if the film can be appreciated for its controversial storyline.  But as for the release itself, if you are into the filmmaking process or even a student in film, these are the type of releases that you truly appreciate and enjoy.

    “THE DA VINCI CODE: EXTENDED CUT” is highly recommended!






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