Release Date(s)2006 (October 11, 2016)
Studio(s)Imagine Entertainment/Columbia Pictures (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
- Film/Program Grade: B-
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: A-
Based on the hit 2003 novel by Dan Brown, Ron Howard’s The Da Vinci Code tells the story of Harvard professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks), who is offering a lecture and book signing on the history and interpretation of religious iconography in Paris, when he’s drawn into the investigation of the religiously-motivated murder of a colleague, who happens to be the curator of the Louvre. A local police captain named Fache (Jean Reno) believes that Langdon was involved in the crime, but before he can be arrested, a young police cryptographer named Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou) spirits Langdon away. She’s convinced there’s more to the case than meets the eye and she needs Langdon’s expertise to help solve the puzzles and interpret the clues that lead to the real killer. Together, Robert and Sophie uncover far more than a simple murder. It’s a centuries old trail that could lead to the literal Holy Grail itself… if sinister forces don’t kill them first.
Dan Brown novels are of a certain popular style not unlike those of Michael Crichton or John Grisham. They tend to be glossy page turners, suspense thrillers that sometimes take license with accuracy, but are grounded in enough research to seem plausible and are undeniably entertaining to read. They also make slick movies (and often feel as though they were specifically written to be sold to Hollywood). The Da Vinci Code is almost the perfect example of this trend, and Rob Howard is the perfect director for the material. He keeps the action moving along at a brisk enough pace that you don’t stop to think much about the contrivances of plot, aided by a fine Hans Zimmer score, and a fantastic cast of experienced supporting players (including Ian McKellen, Alfred Molina, Jürgen Prochnow, Étienne Chicot, and Paul Bettany) who elevate the script adaptation by Akiva Goldsman. I’m admittedly no fan of Goldsman’s work, but this is certainly one of his better efforts.
Sony’s 4K UHD release is presents the 148-minute theatrical cut of the film in the proper 2.40:1 scope aspect ratio, scanned from the original film elements in full 4K. There are advantages and disadvantages to this. The film was shot on film in Super 35 format, so the final master involves an optical blow-up. Film grain is thus much more pronounced than you’d see on a digital source or a larger format of physical film. I personally don’t mind; this visual texture has always been inherent in the film. But younger viewers, and those who prefer the crisp clarity of digital, may be put off by it. Nevertheless, colors are rich, vibrant, and accurate, far more nuanced than they are in the Blu-ray version. Highlights gleam without being overblown and shadows are ink-black, with a little bit of detail, but do be aware that they’re more crushed looking than you’d find in a modern digital DI. I think this image looks great, and it’s the best I’ve ever seen this film looking either at home or in theaters, but it isn’t going to stand up in comparison to, say Ghostbusters (2016) or The Revenant in 4K. This looks like a film shot on Super 35, just as it should. Audio is available in a smooth and immersive English Dolby Atmos mix (7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible) that’s big and wide, with excellent clarity and fidelity, and precise directional panning. Sound options are also available in English Descriptive Audio and over a dozen of the most common international languages, with subtitles available in English, English SDH, and over two dozen additional languages.
There are no extras on the 4K disc itself, but two additional Blu-ray Discs are included in the package. The first, a movie disc, offers the theatrical cut of the film in 1080p HD, with scene specific audio commentary by Ron Howard (so note there are large gaps in the track), the Launching a Legacy with a First Look at Inferno featurette (4:26), Extended Cut Scenes (42 scenes – 35:27 in all), and the film’s Teaser Trailer (2:05) and Theatrical Trailer (2:20). The second disc is a Blu-ray Bonus Disc, which adds the following content in HD:
- First Day on the Set with Ron Howard (2:13)
- A Discussion with Dan Brown (4:52)
- A Portrait of Langdon (7:18)
- Who Is Sophie Neveu? (6:58)
- Unusual Suspects (17:58)
- Magical Places (15:58)
- Close-Up on Mona Lisa (6:37)
- The Filmmakers’ Journey: Part One (24:40)
- The Filmmakers’ Journey: Part Two (12:20)
- The Codes of The Da Vinci Code (5:33)
- The Music of The Da Vinci Code (2:54)
- Book to Screen (11:06)
- The Da Vinci Props (9:43)
- The Da Vinci Sets (9:10)
- Re-Creating Works of Art (6:03)
- The Visual Effects of The Da Vinci Code (15:03)
- Scoring The Da Vinci Code (9:44)
There’s also a Digital HD copy code on a paper insert in the packaging. Unfortunately, the actual Extended Cut of the film isn’t here. It runs 174 minutes and you can find it available on Blu-ray separately if you wish. Also missing is the rather complicated Picture-in-Picture feature that worked in conjunction with Howard’s commentary on the Extended Cut Blu-ray.
I wouldn’t quite call The Da Vinci Code a guilty pleasure but, much like National Treasure before it, this is a film I find myself quickly drawn into whenever I see it. Sony’s new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release delivers the perfect home experience of Ron Howard’s thriller, in honor of its 10th anniversary. This is a very nice overall package that could almost, but not quite, be called definitive. Still, it’s well worth a look. Recommended, especially for fans.
- Bill Hunt