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Review: Angels & Demons

Angels & Demons
05.15.2009
5 10

PLOT: On the eve of a papal election, Harvard Symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks), is summoned to the Vatican to solve an Illuminati plot involving four kidnapped cardinals, and a stolen supply of destructive anti-matter.

REVIEW: Here we go again...

Back in 2006, THE DA VINCI CODE was THE hot ticket film for the summer. The book sold more copies than the bible, and with Ron Howard directing, and Tom Hanks starring, the film promised to be an event.

Too bad it sucked...

While it was financially successful, I don't think I've ever actually met anyone who liked the film, so I was a bit surprised when I heard the same team was fashioning Dan Brown's first Langdon adventure into a sequel. Obviously, they didn't learn their lesson the first time, which is that Dan Brown's books are un-filmable.


Think about it. What are Brown's books really? Both ANGELS & DEMONS, and THE DA VINCI CODE are page turning thrillers perfect for a long air flight, or train trip, but considering how packed with information, and short on action the books are- they aren't going to make the most exciting film.

ANGELS suffers from the same big problem DA VINCI CODE had. It's just too damn talky. Basically, the whole film is Tom Hanks lecturing ignorant Vatican officials on the history of the Catholic Church. This would make a fascinating seminar, and sure enough, did make for a fun novel- but as a film it's a boring as watching paint dry, or grass grow.

To be fair, ANGELS is a bit better than DA VINCI. For one thing, Tom Hanks cut his Prince Valiant haircut from the first film. Also- there's a tiny bit more action in this film, and the film is surprisingly grisly at times, which is a surprise. Still, the problems are numerous. For some reason, most of the action beats from the book have been dropped, making Langdon more of a passive character than he is in the novels. I also hated the way the entire romantic subplot with sexy scientist Vittoria Vetra (played by beautiful Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer) has been dropped- just like it was with Audrey Tautou's character in the last film. What's the deal here- shouldn't Langdon be allowed to have a love interest?


Another problem is the supporting cast. Stellen Skasgaard & Ewan McGregor are both fine actors, but both roles, as a Vatican City cop, and as a high ranking Vatican priest, are pretty bland. At least DA VINCI had some scenery chewing by Ian McKellen. Everyone here seems to be on autopilot. McGregor's career has been going downhill for the last few years, and this is definitely not the role that's going to put him back on top.

Similarly bland is the score by Hans Zimmer, which is not a huge surprise as, with the exception of his work on BATMAN BEGINS & THE DARK KNIGHT with James Newton Howard, he hasn't done a great score since GLADIATOR. He`s turning into another Danny Elfman!

As for director Ron Howard- he should stick to Oscar-bait like FROST/NIXON. He's never been a great action/adventure director (although WILLOW had it's moments), and, along with screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, he's way too faithful to his source material. Brown's books, with fine on the page, need a major overhaul to make for compelling films. Supposedly, plans are already underway to adapt his next novel, THE LOST SYMBOL, but after this film, I doubt many people with be in line when it hits multiplexes in a few years.

Grade: 5/10

Source: JoBlo.com

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