Perhaps I went in with the wrong attitude. I knew it had already been panned. I certainly knew the central premise and I really didn't want to like it, because as I said afterwards, I've enjoyed movies with huge plot holes before--I like Bond films for instance and they seldom add up when you think about them afterwards. As a side note, I've always regretted that I knew what Rosebud was by the time I saw "Citizen Kane." By the time I saw "Apocalypse Now" I'd seen so many parodies of it I found it funny.
I was going to write a full review, but I looked at some 'professional' reviews earlier and everything I wanted to say has been said. The historical flash backs look like Cecil B. DeMille clips, the actors are stilted and boring, the editing is nearly nauseating and pointless and the music is almost vomit inducing. Some fans wrote and said that it would be confusing if you hadn't read the book--HOW? when Howard and the music signal every bad guy, every plot point, everything at every turn. If you didn't know everything virtually 2 scenes in, you haven't read enough or even watched enough movies. I feel deeply sorry for Paul Bettany who gives a staggering performance DESPITE the cheesy editing and lame lines with a monstrous character. If you want to see Bettany do this performance in a good movie see "Gangster Number One," a low budget British film with David Thewlis that still makes me shudder. This film is pure Ron Howard schmaltz. I leaned over to my friend who'd read it at one point and whispered, "Does the book presume we're all idiots as well?" Afterwards she agreed that that was something that had bugged her while reading. The best part of the film for me was seeing my new car on the streets of Paris--now that's a bad film.
On to the script itself. Now, I haven't read it, and books are generally better than films, and I'm told some significant things are changed near the end, but my God! Are we really supposed to believe that this dying museum curator managed to stagger around the Louvre writing things in invisible ink and blood. Does the Louvre have NO laser beams, triggers, GUARDS? I believe that The Mona Lisa herself is surrounded by a cage of lasers at ALL times. Ooo! Fibonacci numbers--great secret, wow! Not if you've ever studied art, math, or botany. The puzzles just kept going down hill from there. I can understand how some people who don't remember any of their education might be thrilled by this, but anyone who regularly plays puzzles on line where you have to find the next url to solve the puzzle could not find this exciting. Maybe it's where I live (near MIT), but I can't imagine why this book is such a best seller. There were apparently no guards or curators at any of the historical sites they visited, and having been to some of them I can tell you that just ain't true. And the puzzle on the box--in English? Please!
When I think of the underrated great historical novels where the details are perfect, nothing is dumbed down, AND the characters are still fascinating I just want to weep. "Foucault's Pendulum" by Umberto Ecco and "Declare" by Tim Powers to name but two. But they're a little hard to read and follow--you have to concentrate--so they've never made it to the top of the BEST SELLER list.
As to the central premise--I understand the controversy, but for myself, the question is not whether Jesus had siblings, or fathered children, but that he could transcend death--be the son of God. And leaving a blood line on earth is not proof that he didn't or proof that he did. He was not a God in the Greek or Roman sense--super strong, throwing thunderbolts, but a MAN born OF divinity who was resurrected BY his Heavenly Father. I believe he had blisters, snot and excrement, worried, stressed, wished the burden would be lifted from him. Even cursed and maybe even had sex with his wife--as God made man and woman and sex, but was perfect in his ability to forgive and accept forgiveness.
And if you can believe that, then nothing else matters at all.