Beginning of Variety article:
A pulpy page-turner in its original incarnation as a huge international bestseller has become a stodgy, grim thing in the exceedingly literal-minded film version of "The Da Vinci Code." Tackling head-on novelist Dan Brown's controversy-stirring thriller hinging on a subversively revisionist view of Jesus Christ's life, director Ron Howard and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman have conspired to drain any sense of fun out of the melodrama, leaving expectant audiences with an oppressively talky film that isn't exactly dull, but comes as close to it as one could imagine with such provocative material; result is perhaps the best thing the project's critics could have hoped for. Enormous public anticipation worldwide will result in explosive B.O. at the start in near-simultaneous release in most international territories, beginning May 17 in some countries -- day-and-date with the official Cannes opening-night preem -- and May 19 in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Sitting through all the verbose explanations and speculations about symbols, codes, secret cults, religious history and covert messages in art, it is impossible to believe that, had the novel never existed, such a script would ever have been considered by a Hollywood studio. It's esoteric, heady stuff, made compelling only by the fact that what it's proposing undermines the fundamental tenants [uhh, exsqueeze me, but the word is "tenets". You'd think a big name magazine would be more literate than a blog comment section] of Christianity, especially Roman Catholicism, and, by extension, Western Civilization for the past 2,000 years...
Excerpt from other link:
The most hotly-awaited movie of the year "The Da Vinci Code" failed to crack an audience of movie critics here at a sneak preview ahead of Wednesday's opening of the Cannes Film Festival.
Several whistles instead of applause were all that greeted the end of Ron Howard's 125-million-dollar film, and worse than that, the 2,000-strong audience even burst out laughing at the movie's key moment.
"I didn't like it very much. I thought it was almost as bad as the book. Tom Hanks was a zombie, thank goodness for Ian McKellen. It was overplayed, there was too much music and it was much too grandiose," said Peter Brunette, critic for the US daily The Boston Globe.
Thus book's detractors will no doubt be comforted to hear that when Hanks reveals who is supposedly the last surviving descendant of Jesus, the Cannes audience couldn't hold back their laughter.
"At the high point, there was laughter among the journalists. Not loud laughs, but a snicker and I think that says it all," said Gerson Da Cunha from The Times of India.
Other critics said the two and a half hour film was confusing to those who hadn't read the book.
"People were confused, there was no applause, just silence," said Margherita Ferrandino from the Italian television Rai 3.
"I have only read half the book, and then I got bored. It's terrible," she added.
"It was really disappointing. The dialogue was cheesy. The acting wasn't too bad, but the film is not as good as the book," added Lina Hamchaoui, from British radio IRN.
Despite being filmed against the backdrop of some of Paris' and London's most impressive and historic buildings -- Howard was even given unprecedented permission to film inside the Louvre -- the film fails to convince, becoming more of a drama-documentary with its overuse of historic flashbacks and other devices to tell the tale.
Hanks seems to get bogged down in the interminable dialogue, whereas Tautou, so brilliant in "Amelie", fails to make an impression.