So dark the con of Ron Howard who screwed up a sure thing. The Da Vinci Code was a wildly successful novel that had a compelling concept delivered by a flimsy vehicle. One would think that placing the concept in the hands of a skilled filmmaker would improve upon what Dan Brown couldn't quite get right: His stupid plot and insipid writing. After all, it wasn't the story in the novel that made The Code so ubiquitously talked about. It was the controversial historical references and theories made about a subject near and dear to billions that kept everyone reading. Case in point, did anyone ever say: "Remember the part in the book where Robert Langdon did this?!"
The problem with making this book into a film is that the book is very "talky", and the meat of the story lies in the subtext. For instance, Dan Brown made countless, painstaking references to symbology in his novel that almost made it at times read like a lightweight history textbook, and if you're into that kind of thing, like me, then you would have soaked up the book through your eyeballs in spite of its weaker points. In order to get the novel onto the screen without sacrificing all of that good stuff, the filmmakers decided to paste the entire mess onto celluloid, making for a very long and often boring ordeal that had me beginning to question whether or not my car needed cleaning out again. The writers didn't even bother to clean up the rudimentary Dan Brown dialogue, which has to be like breaking some kind of cardinal rule.
This is not a good idea, and it should serve as a lesson to anyone who hopes to adapt a novel to film: Do not be lazy. There is a difference between a written medium and a visual one, and the two are not always compatible. Writers often need to take liberties in order to make the transition to the big screen successful. If this wasn't true, then Peter Jackson would have been burned at the stake rather than dipped in gold. In fact, Ron Howard should have taken a lesson from him because this is easily the worst film Howard has ever made.
What should have been an eagle on the 18th hole ended up being a horribly miscalculated double bogey into the rough, and it looks to me like they spent the entire two and a half hours taking weak stabs with the wrong club trying to get out of it. A hilariously bemulleted (yeah, that's my word) Tom Hanks looks uncomfortable if not miscast in his role as an accomplished academic, with his trademark sardonic grin looking more like: "I hope this claptrap isn't the end of my winning streak." Ian McKellan is the only one who looks as if he belongs, likely because he was the only interesting character in the movie, but even he couldn't carry the crushing weight of the surrounding absurdity.
All in all, if the Da Vinci Code movie gets anything right, it's in highlighting the inherent weaknesses of its source material. If you want to delve into the history behind Brown's inspiration, it's perhaps best to take the non-fictional route and leave the generic Indiana Jones stuff to Spielberg and Lucas.
Gouda's Grade: D