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Da Vinci Code: The Movie

Ron Howard's movie 'The Da Vinci Code’ has premiered to a flurry of reactions by the mainstream Christian community -- perhaps not surprising since the movie suggests Jesus married and had a child.

According to the movie and Dan Brown's best-selling book on which it is based, for almost 2,000 years, the Catholic Church has covered up Jesus' marriage to Mary Magdalene and the lineage they produced. Using ancient symbols, the film and novel contend that the coveted Holy Grail is none other than Mary Magdalene herself.

Celebrated actor Ian McKellen portrays Sir Lee Teabing, an English intellectual off to find the holy cup and set the record straight. Audrey Tautou plays Sophie Neveu, a cryptologist who is charged with deciphering clues leading to the grail.

Like Dan Brown's novel, the movie has generated intense controversy. The Catholic church feels its reputation, Christian dogma, and Jesus's divinity have all been attacked. It has called on Catholics across the world to boycott the movie. But actor Tom Hanks, who stars as symbols expert Robert Langdon, says the movie is being taken far too seriously.

"It is a fabulous scavenger hunt. About very powerful stuff. And that combination is really irresistible."

Irresistible to audiences, hopefully, says actor Alfred Molina, who plays the sinister Bishop Aringarosa. But he adds the film is not a threat to the religious establishment. "Catholicism has been around for 2,000 years. If one book is going to bring it toppling to its knees, then it's a ludicrous idea. And the fact that it's a piece of fiction -- and a good piece of fiction in the sense that any good piece of fiction, if it has enough elements of plausibility, enough elements that hook you in terms of, 'Wow! This really could be!' "

Ultimately, the movie does not offer any conclusions on Jesus's divinity. Tom Hanks' Langdon character delivers a five-minute monologue on the subject and the belief system that goes with it. The movie tries to avoid offending the religious establishment -- filling the story with so much historical minutiae that its dialogues are didactic and tedious. They burden the excellent cast and sap the film of spontaneity. In spite of its big-budget and impressive locales, The Da Vinci Code is an unmemorable flick that hardly justifies the controversy surrounding it.