The Da Vinci Code
One thing I was concerned about when getting ready to see the film again was how many times I'd been through the story. Reading the book reveals the twists and turns and when I watched the film I was dissapointed as the story played out as per the book, and when I'd already visualised everything happening the film seemed a step by step copy. Would the same happen with the Blu-ray film?
That was true for watching the Blu-ray of The Da Vinci Code, and to add an extra layer, I enjoyed watching the way the story played out visually.
For the full review of the plot and the film see the Filmstalker film review of The Da Vinci Code.
The picture is very strong and does show off the capabilities of the Blu-ray really well. There's lots of detail and with beautifully lit frames through all the darker shots, the picture comes to life.
It deals really well with the darker scenes, in fact this is where the picture is at its best. Degrees of blacks hold up well and when pressed with action they hardly falter.
TrueHD 5.1, Dolby Digital 2.0
I was surprised at how strong the audio was considering the story and the few action sequences. When it does come alive it leaps out at you, and it kicks off from the beginning.
The score is a strong aspect of the film and fills the room and coupled with the rest of the audio, travels around you making full use of the speakers and the space.
Ambient sounds come from all around and there really has been some careful thought carried out in involving the viewer in the film through the audio track.
Extras can make or break a Blu-ray. With DVD the disc could get away without extras if the film offering was strong, but with Blu-ray we demand extras, well I certainly do. Not only do I love watching them and learning more about a film, but Blu-ray is designed with so many features for extras that they need to be exploited, and it's only now that we're seeing that happen, and with Da Vinci Code on Blu-ray we get to see some of that, and across an additional disc too.
First look at Angels & Demons:
A complete scene from Angels & Demons is introduced and described by Ron Howard, followed by an extended trailer with new footage that I've certainly never seen. This does well for the studio, not only is it advertising the upcoming cinema release of the film but it's also going to do the same for the DVD and Blu-ray release, and if you buy or rent it early enough, a nice little bonus for the film fan before the release.
CineChat is a relatively new Blu-ray feature for Internet enabled players, like the PS3. It gives the ability to watch the the film and invite friends into a live chat while watching and then sit and discuss and comment on the film as it plays out. It has the clever option to be able to use your laptop or smartphone for the texting rather than the onscreen keyboard or USB connected device. Interesting option, but I would like the ability to be able to get the chat saved off or embedded onto my own site, and why not voice chat to go along with it?
Selected scenes commentary with Ron Howard:
I found it really odd that there are only certain scenes with Ron Howard providing an audio commentary for, but that's the option, and there are a good number of scenes with the commentary, twenty-seven in fact. The commentary is filled with historical nuggets as well as great insights into the filming and pre-production as well as the actors and their performances. I would have preferred a full commentary, but this is still interesting, and there are plenty of scenes covered.
Unlocking the Code:
I do enjoy the interactive tracks that are coming on Blu-ray, and it's not something that's been with Blu-ray alone, I remember watching the excellent Tears of the Sun which carried two such pop-up tracks. One showed facts about the equipment, places, political situations, etc. and the other talked about the film. Now Da Vinci Code has taken it to a different level. Through a menu on the top of the screen you can select any one of five icons as they highlight throughout the film to see behind the scenes videos, interviews with cast and crew, video demonstrations of props from the film's prop designer, location updates of where the story is, and reveals of all the secret hidden symbols and messages throughout the film, and there are tons.
This is a really cool feature, but the only thing is that you might have to watch the film a couple of times with this switched on as some of the icons often come two or three at a time. However this isn't really a bad thing as it just adds more and more to the film viewing experience.
Disc 2: Bonus Disc:
First Day on the Set with Ron Howard:
A very short film with a few short on set monologues from Ron Howard about making the film and working with Tom Hanks while we watch behind the scenes video and see the man himself on set. It's all too short but gives a few interesting quotes.
A Discussion with Dan Brown:
Dan Brown talks a little about the research for the book, the story, when he first realised that it was going to be famous, and talks about his new Robert Langdon book and how it will be set within America. This is another interesting but way too short feature. We could have heard much more from him and as it is it feels almost like an advert for the story and the upcoming book.
A Portrait of Langdon:
Dan Brown, Tom Hanks, Ron Howard, Brian Grazer and other names behind the project talk about who and what Robert Langdon is as well as the film itself and the casting of Hanks in the role. A more interesting featurette hearing the main people talk about the role, but more so about the casting of Hanks and how Hanks is as an actor.
Who is Sophie Neveu?:
A nice short that looks to the director, Tom Hanks, Brian Grazer and others to see what they think of casting Sophie and of the choice of Audrey Tautou.
Having looked at the leads we talk to the same faces again, as well as the actors themselves, about casting the big named co-stars of the film. Another interesting piece where Dan Brown talks about the characters and the rest talk about the actor who was cast.
A look at the religious and historical locations used throughout the film talking to those involved in the production and filming about them and what it meant to film there both personally and logistically. There's loads to see in this featurette, and it's a very good length compared to the previous.
Close-up on Mona Lisa:
Again another decent sized featurette that talks about the Mona Lisa painting and sees the big names both in front of and behind the camera talking about their experiences of first seeing the picture both in their lives and in the filming.
The Filmmakers' Journey Part One/The Filmmakers' Journey Part Two:
Two rather lengthy featurettes that cover so many aspects of the film and the filming from start to finish through the words of the actors, director, producers and the creatives behind the scenes. There's lots to be had here, and some is recognisable from the Unlocking the Code track while watching the film, but there is genuinely tons of new information and understanding to be had by watching the film.
The Codes of The Da Vinci Code:
This is an interesting little featurette that shows you some of the codes and symbols hidden in the film one after the other. I do wish that they had gone through the entire film and revealed them, perhaps giving you the option to see then if you wanted, or trying to find them in each sequence yourself using your controller. However it does give you a few reveals which you might not have noticed in the film or the Unlocking the Code additional viewing.
The Music of The Da Vinci Code:
A short featurette that examines the music within the film.
Book to Screen:
An interesting featurette talking to the key people behind the scenes and in particular Dan Brown and Akiva Goldsmith to look at the collaboration in adapting the novel and how much involvement Brown had in the film. Interesting, although some more detail and more examples would have been good.
The Da Vinci Props:
One of the men behind the props talks us through a couple and how they were made for the film. Big surprises here in the amount of research and work that went into some of them.
The Da Vinci Sets:
We hear about the work that went into building the complex and large sets used within the film, the featurette shows some incredible work behind the scenes.
Re-creating the Works of Art:
A short piece about recreating the works of art for the Louvre set.
The Visual Effects World of The Da Vinci Code:
Here we are taken through most of the major effects sequences showing a few shots on how they are assembled with some ofthe key people behind the computers talking about the compositions of the shots as we see various stages being put together. It's a good featurette.
Scoring the Da Vinci Code:
Finally there is a featurette where Ron Howard and Hans Zimmerman talk about the score and how it was made, visiting various key scenes where the score is most important and giving us footage from the actual rehearsals and recording of these.
The Blu-ray offering of The Da Vinci Code is very good and time has been rather kind to the film allowing distance from the reading of the book and the cinema showing of the film. Watching it again on the smaller screen with the additional extras of the Blu-ray offering reveals a lot more depth to the story as well as to the film itself. It's not the best Blu-ray offering, but it is making good use of some of the newer features, It's just a shame that there wasn't a full audio commentary for the film. However for fans this is a welcome addition and there's plenty to keep you occupied and get you engaged in the film a number of times.