MOVIE QUEST

'Da Vinci Code' Sneak Peek

Last night we went to an advance screening of Ron Howard's much-hyped movie and, having read the gripping best seller, it felt like a letdown. While they've successfully simplified the plot, it's not easy to keep the action chugging along when nearly every step has to be explained with expository dialogue and calls for shots of the overly earnest co-stars thinking intently--their lack of chemistry doesn't help either. (It's worth noting that the beginning is particularly gruesome; one of us found it too violent and left!)

Apart from Ian McKellan's spirited turn as Leigh Teabing, one of the things the movie does get right is the scenery: dazzling shots of the Louvre and Paris by night; a birds-eye view of London and Tower Bridge; Sophie and Langdon whizzing through narrow European streets in a Smart Car (fun!); and the soaring stained-glass windows of Westminster Abbey. It makes you remember how marvelous these blockbuster sights are--with or without The Da Vinci Code--and introduces a few lesser-known gems like Scotland's Rosslyn Chapel.

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