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The DVD extras on a film as popular as The Da Vinci Code should be plentiful, and this version doesnt skimp. With over 90 minutes of special features, including ten behind-the-scenes featurettes, theres a lot here to explore beyond the film itself. The question is, is there anything new here that we havent heard before, in all the hype, pseudo-documentaries, and controversy surrounding the movie, to make it worthwhile? For most viewers, the answer will be "yes." Essentially, if you like the movie, if you enjoyed the book, you will get a lot out of them.
Just as the movie is intended to make the book come to life, the DVD extras should make the film come to life by pointing the audience into the world of the filmmakers, connecting the dots between print and film, and for the most part they do just that. The extras here range from the typical look behind-the-scenes to more in-depth features on the supporting characters, the locations, and the Mona Lisa herself. "First Day on the Set with Ron Howard" features the director gushing about the opportunity to film in the Louvre and work with Tom Hanks again (the two worked together before on Splash and Apollo 13). Its a short piece that doesnt reveal much beyond making an attempt to share Howards excitement (with the "Gee, I really loved working with him/her on this project" that you hear in every such featurette), but viewers might enjoy seeing how the stage was set up in the famous museum, down to the spike tape on the floor showing actors where to hit their marks. The Filmmaking Experience, Parts 1 and 2 further explores the creative and technical aspects of the filmmaking process. A Conversation with Dan Brown starts out feeling like a puff-piece (the man who wrote this book got started at age 5 with a story called The Giraffe, The Pig, and the Pants on Fire. "It was a thriller," he says.) and unfortunately it doesnt go very deep into much of anything of interest. But on the other hand, this isnt 60 Minutes here; its intended to give viewers a better sense of the man behind the franchise, which it does. Much of the footage from this interview is sprinkled throughout some of the other featurettes. Meanwhile, the character behind the franchise, Robert Langdon, is examined in his own featurette, as is Sophie Neveu. The cool thing here is getting under the skin of the actors to see how they approached the characters, knowing that most of the movie-going public already has formed their own ideas about the characters from the book.
The most interesting extras are the featurettes that focus on the history behind the mystery. Or is it the mystery behind the history? Either way, the first one on the Mona Lisa, and the second featurette on the many codes and symbols that are hidden throughout the movie balance out the remainder of the extras nicely by demonstrating the sense of intrigue, mystery, and game-playing adventure that made The Da Vinci Code so popular in the first place. --Daniel Vancini
Beyond The Da Vinci Code
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The Films of Ron Howard
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Stills from The Da Vinci Code (click for larger image)