[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 18 May 2006, 13:49 GMT 14:49 UK
The Da Vinci Code: Press views
Film critics in the US and UK have delivered their verdicts on the hugely-hyped movie adaptation of Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code.

VARIETY - Todd McCarthy

A pulpy page-turner in its original incarnation as a huge international best-seller has become a stodgy, grim thing in the exceedingly literal-minded film version of The Da Vinci Code.

Director Ron Howard and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman have conspired to drain any sense of fun out of the melodrama, leaving expectant audiences with an oppressively talky film that isn't exactly dull, but comes as close to it as one could imagine with such provocative material.

[The] result is perhaps the best thing the project's critics could have hoped for.


The movie really only catches fire after an hour, when Ian McKellen hobbles on the scene as the story's Sphinx-like Sir Leigh Teabing. Here is the one actor having fun with his role and playing a character rather than a piece to a puzzle.

Howard proves a smart choice as a director because his middlebrow tastes inspire him to go for broad strokes and forget making any real sense of these logic-busters.

But why did he allow such a solid, attractive cast to turn in such stiff, unappealing performances?

Da Vinci never rises to the level of a guilty pleasure. Too much guilt. Not enough pleasure.


If Brown's novel has something of the excitement of a nervy leap into the void, the script by Goldsman has some of the paint-by-numbers qualities of a Classics Illustrated comic book.

Though there has been some monkeying with plot details, especially at the end, plus some noteworthy thematic exclusions and additions, the two hour and 32 minute film is careful to be as faithful as it feels it can be to all of the book's major plot elements.

As to director Howard, he too comes off as a kind of emcee, intent on not getting in the way of this juggernaut of a story.

DAILY MAIL - Christopher Tookey

Actors often take the blame for the failure of a blockbuster, but the fault usually lies in the writing.

Screenwriter Akiva Goldsman never gets to grips with the scale of the book, the intricacy of its plotting, its weaknesses or its strengths.

Hanks is dull, opaque and as haplessly adrift as he was playing the lead in a previous blockbuster that turned out to be a turkey, The Bonfire of the Vanities.

As the world's dishiest police cryptologist, Audrey Tautou mangles the English language so badly that she is hard to understand.

THE SUN - Beci Wood

Despite being a huge fan of Dan Brown's classic book, the two-and-a-half hour film fell well below my expectations.

There were, admittedly, some superb acting performances from the star-studded cast - however I left the screening feeling rather disappointed and much preferring the novel.

Despite the rather far-fetched plot and slightly drawn-out ending, there are plenty of edge-of-your-seat moments that will keep you transfixed.

It is hard to see it surpassing other classic adaptations such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Harry Potter franchise in terms of popularity and cult status.

THE GUARDIAN - Peter Bradshaw

Most Cannes-goers found themselves thoroughly bemused by this two-dimensional thriller which, for an awful lot of the time, neglected to thrill.

It didn't have the punch of something like The Boys From Brazil, nor the seriousness of The Last Temptation.

It was like Spamalot without the jokes, though the revelation at the end got a storm of incredulous laughter and the owl-like hooting that French audiences use to express derision.

It was a very bizarre, very silly beginning to the festival.

THE TIMES - James Christopher

There are red herrings galore. A multi-million pound blockbuster that starts in Paris and ends up in a hamlet in Scotland has clearly got a lot of explaining to do.

Any thriller that can throw up the line, "I have to get to a library fast," is in dire need of medical attention.

To his eternal credit, Howard illuminates entire chapters by making them look like supper time at Hogwarts.

The actors stroll through chunks of history and armies of crusader ghosts like panic-stricken students on an endless tour of Gothic churches.


If Dan Brown's soaraway bestseller The Da Vinci Code was clumsily written but a page-turning guilty pleasure, Ron Howard's film version is well-made but chronically devoid of the guilty pleasures it needs to make it succeed as first-rate popcorn entertainment.

Howard and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman have remained rigidly faithful to the chronology and events of the book, but make ponderous work of the delicious conspiracy theories and treasure hunt which are the phenomenon's raison d'etre.


The movie of The Da Vinci Code has one inestimable advantage over the novel. Utilising the moving picture, it has effectively eliminated most of Dan Brown's plodding prose.

It's not all good news, though. It has retained lots of his execrable dialogue.

The film is punishingly faithful to the book, from first to last.

Almost every word is delivered with ludicrous urgency and attended to with comical concentration, but then that's preferable to the crashing adverbs and insulting italics of the original.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific