The Da Vinci Code 2-Disc Widescreen Special Edition—Sony Pictures

Video: 4
Audio: 4
Extras: 4

Many a time have I listened to friends lament that a movie isn’t as good as the book on which it’s based. I just smile and nod, thinking smugly to myself that, if these poor people would just stop reading, they’d be much happier moviegoers. Then one of these friends gave me the novel The Da Vinci Code as a gift. I knew full well that Dan Brown’s insanely popular religious-themed murder mystery would someday become a film, yet I foolishly read it anyhow. And now here I am, forced to utter the same five words I once so smugly dismissed: “Eh, the book was better.”

The novel has a lot of plot—and even more exposition to ensure that said plot makes sense. While the film’s talented cast does a fine job, director Ron Howard and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman aren’t entirely successful in weaving the book’s many plot elements in a theatrically compelling way. In the end, the film feels long, and the big reveal feels rather small.

This 2-Disc Widescreen Special Edition DVD includes the film on one disc and the bonus content on another. Thanks to beautiful locales and excellent lighting, the attractive 2.40:1 anamorphic picture offers plenty of detail, colors, and blacks to challenge your TV. Dialogue is the centerpiece of the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, although the rest of the stage comes to life during musical sequences. Disc two offers 11 featurettes, which present a complete behind-the-scenes look at the production but don’t dare explore the film’s controversial elements. They, like the movie itself, play it too safe to be thoroughly compelling.