The Da Vinci Code appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a decent presentation but not one that dazzled.
Sharpness seemed mostly satisfying. This presentation suffered from a slight amount of softness in some wide shots, but those weren’t substantial intrusions. Instead, the flick usually seemed reasonably concise and well-defined. I noticed no jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge enhancement was minor. Other than moderate grain – which likely resulted from the dimly-lit settings and the Super35 photography - source flaws seemed absent.
With all the dark sequences, shadow detail became more important than usual. The transfer wasn’t quite up to the movie’s needs, as it rendered low-light shots in a slightly flat manner. These tended to be a little thick and opaque, though they remained acceptably visible. Blacks seemed acceptable, though they could appear a little muddy at times.
Colors weren’t a major consideration in this film. Code featured a subdued palette most of the time, as it favored those shadowy elements. The film took on a brownish hue much of the time, while brighter tones appeared infrequently.
Even when the movie got to daylight for its final hour, the colors stayed withdrawn. The transfer displayed them as designed, so the desaturated look was appropriate. I thought the transfer was too dark, but overall this was a satisfying image.
I thought the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of The Da Vinci Code was pretty good. Music dominated the soundfield of this chatty flick. The score showed nice stereo imaging and also used the surrounds for support.
Effects were less dominant partners, though they came into the mix in a satisfying manner when necessary. Usually the movie went with general environmental material, but the smattering of action-oriented sequences added punch to the proceedings. Those featured smooth, accurate surround support as well.
Audio quality was more than satisfactory. Speech came across as natural and concise, while effects displayed good power and clarity. Those elements featured clean highs and tight lows. Music also displayed nice range and definition. The score was always vibrant and vivid. This wasn’t an exceptional soundtrack, but it complemented the material well.
How did this “10th Anniversary” release compare with the prior Blu-ray? I thought both were exceedingly similar. The 2016 disc went with DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio instead of Dolby TrueHD 5.1, but I’d be hard-pressed to cite any differences. The visuals showed the same pattern of strengths and weaknesses as well.
The biggest change from the prior Blu-ray relates to the version of the film on display. Whereas the old BD included only the 175-minute extended cut, the 2016 package provides just the 148-minute theatrical film.
Why not include both? I don’t know. While I don’t think the Extended Cut improved the film, I still would like it to appear as an option.
The 2016 disc does include the Extended Cut Scenes all on their own. We get 42 sequences with a running time of 35 minutes, 27 seconds.
As that implies, we locate a whole bunch of fairly short additions/extensions. For the most part, we find more background/expository material here. For instance, we get more backstory for Silas, and I believe the scenes flesh out other historical elements to a greater degree. They’re worth a look.
We find a scene-select commentary from director Ron Howard. He discusses cast and performances, cinematography and visual choices, changes for the extended cut, sets and locations, story/adaptation challenges, and shooting the car chase.
When Howard talks, he provides excellent thoughts and insights. However, the director only chats across roughly 39 minutes of the film, which leaves more than 100 minutes of dead air!
The producers of the prior Blu-ray understood how frustrating this would be for the listener and packaged Howard’s comments into a conglomeration of appropriate scenes. For reasons unknown, the 2016 release’s creators abandon this and spread Howard’s sparse array of remarks across the entire movie.
This flops. What acted as an enjoyable experience on the prior Blu-ray becomes a frustrating drag here. Howard’s notes remain engaging but it’s a chore to get to that material via this presentation.
In addition to two trailers for Code, we get Launching a Legacy, a preview for Inferno, the next Robert Langdon film. This runs four minutes, 26 seconds and offers info from Howard, producer Brian Grazer, author Dan Brown, and actors Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones. We get a quick overview of story/characters, sets/locations and related topics. “Legacy” offers a promo piece and nothing more.
Over on Disc Two, we find a slew of featurettes. First Day on the Set with Ron Howard runs a mere two minutes, 13 seconds. We visit the director on location at the Louvre on July 6, 2005. He offers some general notes about the flick but doesn’t tell us much in this brief clip. I’m not sure what purpose it serves, as the snippets could have been better presented as part of a longer documentary.
Comments from the author appear in A Discussion with Dan Brown. The four-minute, 52-second clip presents the author/executive producer as he chats about his career as a writer as well as specifics of how he created Code. In addition, he lets us know his impressions of the book’s success and what he plans to write next. A few good nuggets pop up here, but details remain infrequent. That’s too bad, as Brown is an interesting subject; I’d have liked a more time with him and greater depth.
Some character notes appear in the next two programs. A Portrait of Langdon runs seven minutes, 18 seconds, while Who Is Sophie Neveu? goes for six minutes, 58 seconds. Across both, we get movie clips, behind the scenes materials, and comments. We hear from Brown, Howard, producers Brian Grazer and John Calley, screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, casting director Jane Jenkins, and actors Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou.
“Langdon” looks at character issues, casting, and Hanks’ talents. “Sophie” takes on similar subjects as it addresses the part, how Tautou got the role, and her performance. Both include decent basics but little more. They tend to lather on praise for those involved at the expense of many valuable notes. They’re acceptable shows and that’s about it, though “Sophie” proves notably more interesting than “Langdon”.
Unusual Suspects lasts 17 minutes, 58 seconds, and includes notes from Howard, Jenkins, Brown, Hanks, Goldsman, Grazer, and actors Jean Reno, Ian McKellen, Paul Bettany, Alfred Molina, Jean-Pierre Marielle, Jean-Yves Berteloot, and Jurgen Prochnow. It examines the supporting characters. “Suspects” follows the model of the prior two featurettes as it deals with casting for Fache, Teabing, Silas, Aringarosa, Sauniere, Remy, and Vernet. We also learn about their performances, aspects of the roles, “Suspects” doesn’t dig into its issues with much more depth than its predecessors but the variety makes it more interesting. It creates a pretty good examination of the actors and characters to let us know a fair amount about them.
For a look at locations, we get the 15-minute, 58-second Magical Places. It features Howard, Grazer, Brown, Hanks, director of photography Salvatore Totino, executive producer/2nd unit director Todd Hallowell, and production designer Allan Cameron. We check out shooting in Paris and the Louvre, England, Scotland and Malta. Not all locations get treated equally, of course, but we get a good overview here. “Places” scoots through the various spots well and throws out nice details along the way. It’s a fun way to see the spots used to film Code.
An examination of Da Vinci’s art arrives via the six-minute, 37-second Close-Up on Mona Lisa. It features Brown, Howard, Hanks, McKellen, Cameron, Grazer, Reno, Molina, Tautou, and head scenic artist James Gemmill. The participants reveal their personal impressions of the Mona Lisa as well as a few facts about the painting. The latter point takes up little time, as we mostly get the filmmakers’ thoughts about the Mona Lisa. This makes the program interesting but not very substantial.
The two-part Filmmaker’s Journey documentary takes a total of 37 minutes. It presents Howard, Hanks, Brown, Grazer, Goldsman, Reno, Marielle, Totino, Tautou, Bettany, McKellen, Hallowell, Molina, costume designer Daniel Orlandi and makeup/hair designer Frances Hannon.
“Journey” gives us some notes about Howard’s involvement in the project and then gets into the screenplay and changes from the novel. We learn more about aspects of the characters like hair, makeup and costumes as well as the execution of various scenes, practical effects like a fake corpse, French language scenes, sets and cinematography, challenges telling the story, Howard’s directing methods, and the story’s appeal.
“Journey” takes us through the information via the path the elements appear in the movie, a technique that I like. That means we start with information about Langdon’s introduction and move from there. Not only does this method succeed, but also we get quite a few good notes. Since the earlier programs dealt with nuts and bolts like casting and locations, “Journey” can act more like a production diary. It does so well as it both informs and entertains.
Movie introspection comes in the five-minute, 33-second The Codes of The Da Vinci Code. It presents comments from Howard and Brown but mostly shows film clips as it reveals hidden messages in the film. It doesn’t give us all of them, but it represents a fun look at some info that lies under the surface.
The Music of The Da Vinci Code lasts two minutes, 54 seconds. It offers remarks from Howard and composer Hans Zimmer. We get some basic notes about the film’s score. “Music” is too brief to give us much detail, so don’t expect more than general info here.
Adaptation notes appear during the 11-minute, six-second Book to Screen. It includes Howard, Brown, Calley, and Goldsman. Brown tells us how he initially didn’t want to see Code made into a movie until he finished his trilogy, and we learn about some changes from the novel when it leapt before the camera. “Book” works acceptably well, but it doesn’t excel. We get too much praise for the parties involved and not enough real data. The piece gives us some decent notes, but you won’t get a ton from it.
Production design comes to the fore via The Da Vinci Props. In this nine-minute, 43-second program, we hear from Hallowell, Brown, and art director Giles Masters. As expected, this one looks at many of the props created for the movie. Masters handles most of this material and provides a fun glimpse of the pieces built to fit the film’s many demands.
Along the same lines, we check out The Da Vinci Sets. For this nine-minute, 10-second piece, we get remarks from Howard, Hallowell, McKellen and Cameron. No surprises here: we get info about the various sets that show up in the movie. It follows in the footsteps of “Props” and gives us an interesting examination of this aspect of the production.
Recreating the Works of Art goes for six minutes, three seconds and features Hanks, Cameron, Gemmill, Goldsman and Howard. Since the filmmakers couldn’t actually shoot in the Louvre, they needed to make their own versions of the paintings. The featurette details the creation of these pieces and gives us a nice little overview of the efforts.
Next comes The Visual Effects World of The Da Vinci Code. It fills 15 minutes, three seconds with remarks from Howard, visual effects producer Barrie Hemsley, Moving Picture Company visual effects supervisor Gary Brozenich, Moving Pictures 3d artist Matt Middleton, Rainmaker visual effects supervisor Mark Breakspear, Double Negative visual effects supervisor Paul Riddle, Double Negative 2D lead Ciaran Crowley, Double Negative senior technical director Phil Johnson, Senate visual effects supervisor Jim Madigan and Moving Pictures environmental lead Dan Neal.
“World” looks at some of the obvious and less readily apparent uses of computer graphics in Code. Though dry at times, the show manages to cover its subjects in a generally interesting manner.
We learn more about the music in Scoring The Da Vinci Code. It goes for nine minutes, 44 seconds and features Howard and Zimmer. We find out how Zimmer got the gig and aspects of his work. It improves on the “Music of Da Vinci Code” featurette; it covers similar ground but does so in more detail.
Finally, the disc provides some Previews. We find promos for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Damages Season One, and Seven Pounds.
In addition to the absent Extended Cut of the film, the 2016 Blu-ray drops an interactive feature called “Unlocking the Code”. Though awkward to use, it included a lot of information and it goes missed.
The film version of The Da Vinci Code takes a hugely successful novel and neuters it for the big screen. Director Ron Howard consistently plays it safe here, a tactic that robs the story of any drama or passion. The Blu-ray presented reasonably good visuals and audio plus an informative set of supplements.
For fans, the question becomes which Da Vinci Code Blu-ray to own. I would recommend the prior version. The only real draw that comes with the 2016 package stems from its inclusion of the theatrical film, as the 2009 BD featured the Extended Cut. If you really crave that theatrical Code, get this disc, but otherwise, the 2009 BD remains the preferred release.
To rate this film visit the prior review of THE DAVINCI CODE