The Da Vinci Code (12A)

PUBLISHED: 11:30 18 May 2006 | UPDATED: 10:09 06 May 2010

JUST about everyone seems to have read Dan Brown s bestselling book, The Da Vinci Code. You probably know the basic story. It s a thriller, the key element being the search for the Holy Grail. In this case, the grail is supposed to be the last living desc

JUST about everyone seems to have read Dan Brown's bestselling book, The Da Vinci Code.

You probably know the basic story. It's a thriller, the key element being the search for the Holy Grail.

In this case, the grail is supposed to be the last living descendent of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. The clues to all this are found in the Louvre Museum.

But right now, with the film hitting cinemas from Friday, what you want to know is: Is The Da Vinci Code a good movie? The answer, overall, is yes.

For most of its overlong two and a half hours, the film is enticing. And surprising in that it's not Tom Hanks - solid as usual - or French film star Audrey Tautou who make the movie tick. It's Sir Ian McKellen, who appears about a quarter to half way through the proceedings and scores himself an Academy Award nomination.

Hanks and Tautou, on the other hand, have thankless tasks. They have to propel Dan Brown's story forward without getting in the way. It was the only approach when the material - a huge best-selling novel with gigantic expectations from its audience - outweighs the actor's opportunity to shine. To say they each emerge unscathed is a compliment.

Hanks plays a Harvard expert on symbology, Tautou is the granddaughter of a man who holds the key to the code while McKellen is the antagonist who propels them to find an answer.

Mainstream audiences will take this for what it is: superb escapism, excellent summer entertainment and ambitious filmmaking.

Directed by Ron Howard (Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind), it's a good movie, solid entertainment with much going for it.

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