The court case is over and the debates are in full(er) swing; like it or not, 'The Da Vinci Code' movie is finally upon us.
Is the Christian Church about to be rocked to its very core? In a word - no.
'The Da Vinci Code' is an easy-to-follow, Hollywood summer blockbuster. There is nothing too taxing for the mind, nothing explosive that has been held back for the big screen and no indication that this was ever going to be anything other than an entertaining thriller.
Like the book from which it spawned, 'The Da Vinci Code' is a thrilling treasure hunt, intertwined with murders, car chases and riddles.
The action will be familiar to anyone who has read the novel as director Ron Howard has been very faithful to Dan Brown's book, save for one or two unfortunate exceptions.
The curator of the Louvre, Jacques Sauniere (Marielle), is murdered by an Albino monk named Silas (Bettany), who is intent on capturing a secret from the old man. As he is dying, Sauniere leaves a trail of clues for symbologist Robert Langdon (Hanks) and French agent Sophie Neveu (Tautou).
As the action unfolds, Langdon and Neveu find themselves caught up in one of the oldest treasure hunts of all time, the search for the Holy Grail. Meanwhile, they are being chased by the police and Silas, who is acting on behalf of Opus Dei. As they hunt for answers and clues we are fed interspersed pieces of information regarding, we are told, the greatest story ever sold – the con of man.
The action takes an annoyingly long time to get going and it is not until the pair finally depart the Louvre that the suspense and adrenalin of the movie start to flow. This is disappointing, to say the least, as the book, though poorly written, was hard to put down.
The story mirrors that of the novel, expectedly, and Langdon and Neveu trundle around Paris from clue to clue while we await the inevitable twists in the story to come in to play.
Howard has made a habit of directing blockbusters that find themselves in among the contenders come the awards season. 'The Da Vinci Code' will not be afforded such a pleasure. There are a few of the visual tricks that Howard used in 'A Beautiful Mind' to be seen, and the flashbacks to the time of Jesus and that of Constantine are expertly done.
In general the acting performances are excellent, with Ian McKellen and Audrey Tautou in particular outstanding. However, Hanks never seems comfortable in the skin of Robert Langdon. There is no sense of awe in his knowledge and charisma; he appears as just another boring history lecturer (not the Indiana Jones-style swashbuckling mentor that was required for this role).
The two noticeable changes to the story concern the ending and the involvement of the Vatican and Opus Dei in the plot. Opus Dei is let off the hook from its depiction in the novel and here the Vatican is implicated to a greater degree. Without spoiling anything, the ending seems a bit too convenient and sugary. There were audible laughs in the cinema - taking from the credibility of the tale that Brown has spun.
The plot does not get too bogged down in small details and overall, this is a very user-friendly experience. We are fed a fact and the fact becomes part of the story – then it's on to the next fact that will help solve a clue.
Following the slow start, Howard builds up the tension and suspense to great effect. Despite the length of the movie it manages to keep your full concentration.
Do not go to this expecting a think-piece on Christianity and the Catholic Church; this has more in common with 'King Kong' and 'Ronin' than 'Stigmata'.
The 'Da Vinci Code' is sure to be a big hit at the box office this summer but its impact on our lives will be long forgotten after the eventual DVD release.