For his adaptation of Dan Brown's megaselling book, director Ron Howard didn't take any risks, he called one of Hollywood's most popular composers, Hans Zimmer. Zimmer is a skilled craftsman, which is good and bad since he adequately delivers in a variety of styles, but usually misses the extra unexpected zing that makes a score truly memorable. His work for The Da Vinci Code is almost entirely muted. This may well be one of the quietest soundtracks to a blockbuster you've ever heard; only bursts of threatening-sounding strings occasionally break the quasi-ambient mood. The strategy is particularly efficient on "L'Esprit des Gabriel," which swells in a pleasantly ominous way. It's the kind of track that benefits greatly from blasting through a movie theater's multiple speakers. As a whole the score is as serious-minded as the movie's plot is preposterous. The most compelling aspect is Zimmer's use of a choir, especially on "Malleus Maleficarum," "Salvete Virgines" (paired with clanging metallic percussion), and "Poisoned Chalice," in which soprano Hila Plitmann takes eerie center stage. Yet overall it's often difficult to tell the cues aside, awash as they are in a sea of somber strings. Once upon a time, Hollywood took artistic risks on some of its bigger offerings. Is that time gone for good? --Elisabeth Vincentelli
Ron Howard and Akiva Goldman, the Oscarr-winning director and writer of A Beautiful Mind, reunite to bring Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code , one of the most popular and controversial novels of our time, to the big screen with a cast headed by two-time Academy Awardr winner Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Sir Ian McKellan, Alfred Molina and Jean Reno. Produced by Oscarr-winner Brian Grazer and John Calley, The Da Vinci Code begins with a spectacular murder in the Louvre museum. All clues point to a covert religious organization that will stop at nothing to protect a secret that threatens to overturn 2,000 years of accepted dogma. The Decca soundtrack will be released May 9 and features original music composed by Academy Awardr winner Hans Zimmer (Gladiator, Hannibal, Black Hawk Down).