Blu-ray Review: The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons and Inferno
By John Corrado
Based on the bestselling books by Dan Brown, the 2006 blockbuster The Da Vinci Code, its 2009 sequel Angels & Demons and last year’s most recent instalment Inferno are now available together on Blu-ray in the nicely compact Robert Langdon 3-Movie Set.
Sharing the same director and star in Ron Howard and Tom Hanks, the films are actually pretty entertaining for what they are, despite having received some decidedly mixed reviews. This set comes easily recommended for fans of the loosely connected trilogy, and my individual thoughts on each of the discs are below.
The Da Vinci Code: The first and most popular film in the collection is The Da Vinci Code. Adapting a book that was already a cultural phenomenon at the time, the film follows Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks), who is framed for murder at the Louvre and has to clear has name by teaming up with Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou) and solving a series of clues that lead to the uncovering of a vast conspiracy involving the very basis of the Catholic Church.
Even if you have never read or seen The Da Vinci Code, you likely know some of the twists from the flurry of controversy it caused at the time. But now that we have mostly moved away from that, it’s easier to see the story for what it is, which is a conspiracy thriller that uses figures from history to craft a fictional “what if?” scenario. Although the story has been streamlined from the book, leaving out certain details to condense the narrative, the film still holds up as an entertaining puzzle box thriller. It moves at a good clip that maintains intrigue as puzzles are solved in limited time, centred around typically strong work from Tom Hanks and solid supporting work by Audrey Tautou and Sir Ian McKellan.
The Blu-ray also includes a commentary track, over half an hour of deleted and extended scenes, as well as other featurettes. This is essentially just the first disc from the 2-disc 10th Anniversary Edition that was released last October.
The Da Vinci Code is 149 minutes and rated 14A.
Angels & Demons: After the mysterious death of a pope, Robert Langdon is recruited by Camerlengo Patrick McKenna (Ewan McGregor) to help track down four Cardinals who have been kidnapped, with their captor threatening to kill them once an hour. There is also a vile of stolen antimatter hidden somewhere in Vatican City, which will explode at midnight. Racing against time, Robert Langdon searches for ancient clues that suggest a conspiracy involving the Illuminati, working alongside physicist Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer), who is the only one qualified to handle the antimatter.
Arguably the strongest of these three films, Angels & Demons is a fast-paced thrill ride that offers exactly what you would want from an adaptation of a novel that is essentially airport fiction. After a prologue at CERN, the film takes place mostly in the confines of Vatican City and unfolds almost in real time, with a literal ticking clock providing the backbone of the plot. Yes, the twists grow more far-fetched and conspiratorial as the plot unfolds, but this all adds to the fun. This is a slickly made, well acted and endlessly enjoyable film that lives up to the promise of the series.
The Blu-ray also includes extended scenes and a selection of seven featurettes. This is basically the same disc that was put out as a standalone release back in October.
Angels & Demons is 138 minutes and rated 14A.
Inferno: This film opens with Robert Langdon waking up in an Italian hospital with memory loss, plagued by hellish visions. When his life is threatened, he escapes the hospital and ends up on the run with Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones), forced to track down an extremely dangerous virus before it can be unleashed and cause mass death, with only the clues hidden within a painting of Dante’s Inferno as their guide. The virus was put out by Betrand Zobrist (Ben Foster), an extremist who had just killed himself days earlier, after spending his life preaching about the dangers of overpopulation with his belief being that the key to solving the world’s problems lies in wiping out half the human race.
This is easily the weakest of the three films, with the production feeling less polished and more rushed overall. The moral and ethical questions at the centre of the film regarding the problems stemming from a surging human population also feel a bit under explored. But Inferno is still a decent and frequently entertaining continuation of the series that gets the job done at around two hours, featuring another fine turn by Tom Hanks as well as solid supporting work from Felicity Jones as the female counterpart and Ben Foster as the antagonist. It also left me hoping that Ron Howard and Tom Hanks will continue the series and finally get around to adapting Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol at some point.
The Blu-ray also includes extended and deleted scenes, as well as six featurettes.
Inferno is 121 minutes and rated 14A.