Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is back as the renowned Harvard symbologist in “Angels & Demons”. The pope has died and before the church can select a successor, an assassin hired by the Illuminati has kidnapped the four likely candidates (the preferati) and threatens to kill one member every hour starting from 8 p.m. On top of that, there is a bomb that threatens to kill everyone in Vatican city before the stroke of midnight. Robert Langdon is summoned to the Vatican in order to help decipher some clues which leads him to the path of illumination. A physicist by the name of Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer) comes to Robert’s aid in this race against time. Can Robert and Vittoria help save the preferati and save Vatican city from annihilation?
**POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD**
“Angels & Demons” is based off the book (of the same name) by best selling author Dan Brown. I have read both “The Da Vinci Code” and “Digital Fortress” by Dan Brown, but going into this movie – I did not read the book beforehand. “Angels & Demons” seemed to have a formula that was oh too familiar. Don’t get me wrong, I was entertained by the movie, but I was a little disappointed that is wasn’t as good as I thought it would be. I felt like I was watching a rehash of “The Da Vinci Code” crossed with “National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets”. Director Ron Howard definitely creates the right mood for a suspense thriller, but it lacked the “surprise” factor. You can almost infer every moment throughout the movie, and I think it’s because of the way the film was edited. The film doesn’t lack continuity, it was just edited in a way that made it seem too predictable and it really left nothing to the imagination. Some of the scenes were so hackneyed and trite that it was almost laughable. There was one scene where Robert is locked in a room and due to an electrical outage; he was loosing oxygen. Then just when you think all hope is lost of course he manages to get out of the room and I thought to myself…watch the power come back on the minute he gets out – and long and behold…the power comes on just as he escapes. (Wow…that was original!) Going back to the story, Robert figures out that each preferati member will be murdered at each of the four alters which are Earth, Water, Air, and Fire along the path of illumination. I think it is really obvious that Robert manages to get to each place with minutes to spare, but can he save these people in time? What was an attempt to cause suspense just turned into cliched story telling. I wonder if upon reading the script (or even the book), were the answers as obvious as it was on screen?
As I mentioned before, “Angels and Demons” reminded me (in some ways) of “National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets”. I think it is because in this movie, Robert Langdon seems to figure out the answers to clues way too quickly without even second guessing himself just like Nicolas Cage’s character, Benjamin Franklin Gates in the National Treasure 2 movie. I feel like in “The DaVinci Code”, the clues lead the characters to a new puzzle at each turn which allowed for more intrigue especially when it came time for the big reveal. This movie was more like…here is the question…Robert knows the answer already…can he get there in time? Veni, vidi, vici…(I came, I saw, I conquered).
I feel bad…it sounds like I didn’t like the film, and in truth…it wasn’t a bad film, but it wasn’t great either. Watching this film and having read other books by Dan Brown, I can’t help but to notice a pattern that is really apparent, none more revealing than in this movie. Good guy turns out to be the bad guy, ok…let’s get the real bad guy before the end of the world. I know…a bit dramatic but at the core that’s how it plays out.
The cast. I can’t deny this film had great casting. The supporting characters were great and with a movie that didn’t have much intrigue to it – I found their performances were great. You really see the internal struggle for some of these characters on what they have to face in the movie. Figuratively speaking, an internal battle between “angels” and “demons”. I’ve also noticed in Dan Brown’s books is that he has one strong female character and like “The Da Vinci code”, that role was fulfilled by Vittoria. She had a strong personality that was very complimentary toward Robert Langdon’s character without being overshadowed. The scene stealer was Ewan McGregor. His performance was the best part of the movie. He was awesome!
What didn’t work?
As I mentioned before…the editing of this film is the downfall of this movie. I know it is hard to fit a 700+ page book into a 2 and a half hour movie, but the editing just revealed all of the events of the story too easily.
I think this is the type of film that you either love it or hate it. I’m not deterring anyone from seeing the film, but I would suggest to see it as a matinee. Otherwise I would just rent it. Out of a scale of 1 to 10 I would give this movie a 6, but if I were to grade the film…it would be a C- border line D. In my opinion, “The Da Vinci Code” was a better film than “Angels and Demons” by a country mile.