The Da Vinci Treasure (2006)
By: Paul Ryan on February 4, 2010  | 
Peacock (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.78:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0. 88 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Peter Mervis
Starring: C. Thomas Howell, Lance Henriksen, Nicole Sherwin, Alexis Zibolis, Jason Gray
Screenplay: Paul Bales, Carlos De Los Rios, David Michael Latt, Peter Mervis
Country: USA
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I've been familiar with the output of poverty-row studio The Asylum for a while. Their general modus operandi – Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus notwithstanding - goes like this: ride the coat tails of a big Hollywood release by slapping together a similar-sounding film (with a similar-but-legally-distinct title) on a fraction of the budget, and ideally have it on DVD shelves the same week the big film opens in cinemas. Hence such releases as Transmorphers, The Day the Earth Stopped, Alien Vs Hunter, and most brazenly, The Terminators. Sure, it's blatant hucksterism, but hucksterism has always been a cornerstone of exploitation cinema, so there's little point getting worked up about that. What you at least hope for out of something so nakedly dodgy is that there might be some entertainment value to be found. With this in mind, I ventured into my first Asylum experience with The Da Vinci Treasure, which as you've already guessed, was thrown together to catch some of the heat from Ron Howard's 2006 adaptation of The Da Vinci Code.

Silly, silly me…

If you've read, seen, or even simply heard of The Da Vinci Code, you'll know it involves a treasure hunt/mystery bound up in the works of Leonardo Da Vinci and tying in to biblical times, and that's exactly what you get here as well, only made by Year 11 media students for a buck-fifty and change. And sure, neither Dan Brown's novel, nor Ron Howard's film are really that great, but they're both pieces of Renaissance art compared to this aggressively pathetic waste of time.

Here are a couple of examples of just how blunderingly inept this film is:

A car chase sequence is set in "London, England", and the filmmakers attempt to convince us this is not actually shot in L.A. by flipping all the footage in the scene so cars appear to drive on the left… Which would almost work, were it not for all the pesky street signs and number plates that keep showing up in frame, all of them backwards.

During a foot chase through the streets of "Turin, Italy", lots and lots of English language signage is visible on passing buildings. It's especially noticeable as our heroes pass the same block of cafés twice.

Next to these howlers, the poor lighting and feeble CGI are almost forgivable. The pacing is terrible – this 88 minute film has a 15-minute pre-credits sequence – and the supporting cast all seem to have been hired either for their willingness to wear low-cut tops (I swear the décolletage of Nicole Sherwin and Alexis Zibolis is consistently better lit than the faces of either actress) or to work for a half-day and a sandwich. While C. Thomas Howell (nowadays an Asylum regular, his days of working with Coppola and Zeffirelli long behind him) and an ear ringed Lance Henriksen (who appears in a total of three scenes) try hard to give the film a lift, it's a losing battle from the start. The very slow five minute end credit crawl implores the viewer to go back to their video store and rent another Asylum title, insisting, "You know you want to".

I sincerely beg to differ.
Shot in HD with a bare minimum of lighting (what with the cheap sets and all), this looks excessively dark throughout, though somehow the night scenes look better than their daylight counterparts. The anamorphic transfer is otherwise okay, but honestly, so what?
The 2.0 audio is clear and reasonably well balanced, which means the flat dialogue, stock sound effects and grating electronic score come through with regrettable clarity.
Extra Features
When you select "play movie" from the main menu, instead of immediately starting the film, you get three trailers for other Peacock titles. These are for awful-looking dope comedy Stone & Ed (stop, my sides!), awful-looking teen flick Graduation Night, and awful-looking inspirational drama The Goal. Spot a pattern here?
The Verdict
If you're going to make a blatant rip-off, you should at least attempt to make it a little bit entertaining. This one of the crappiest films I've ever seen, and isn't even worth a dollar weekly rental. Avoid.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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