It would be tempting to consider "The Da Vinci Code" a kind of corrective to "The Passion of the Christ," the kind of movie liberal-minded Catholics, agnostics, or nonbelievers like to throw back on religious wingnuts--sorry, conservatives--when they mention Mel Gibson's snuff flick; it would also be tempting to think of this as a sensational expose of the nefarious activities of the Opus Dei (who may not be involved in any elaborate world-wide conspiracies, but do display cult-like mind-control tendencies towards their members)…but after actually seeing Ron Howard's latest opus, an adaptation of Dan Brown's best-selling novel, I'm forced to agree with most critics: the picture is a sad, sorry crock of cow manure.
Perhaps Howard's biggest mistake--aside from accepting the assignment to direct in the first place (or entertaining the notion that he is in any way a director)--is in treating this material with such reverence. The picture breathes portent the way a cheap horror-movie monster breathes halitosis down your neck; the characters keep reminding us that this is all part of the "biggest cover-up in human history," staged to "protect a secret so powerful that if revealed it would devastate the very foundations of mankind" (to quote Ace Ventura: "Re-he-he-he-ally?"). Howard and collaborator Akiva Goldsman (the scriptwriter of such artistically renowned films as "Batman Forever," "Batman and Robin," and "Lost in Space") necessarily trim some of Brown's awful dialogue--the airport paperback edition drones for some 454 pages--but force the actors to intone the surviving lines as if they were hallowed scripture. The book, bogged down by Brown's clumsy prose and hilarious lack of familiarity with (among other things) the Catholic Church, colloquial French, and basic European geography is made worse on the big screen by limping camerawork and the most laughably ominous Hans Zimmer music score this side of Ingmar Bergman parodies. This isn't filmmaking or even good commercialfilmmaking, it's big-budgeted finger-painting; if it's at all a hit that's because everyone trooped to the multiplexes, curious to see what the fuss is about.