Angels and Demons

2009-05-15 08:49
 
Angels & Demons

What it’s about:


After the recent death of the Pope, CERN physicist Leonardo Vetra is found murdered in his own secure research facility, the symbol of the secret brotherhood "The Illuminati" branded onto his chest. Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is summoned to help solve the case, along with Vetra's daughter, Vittoria (Ayelet Zurer). At the same time, the Vatican is convening a papal conclave to select a new pontiff, but an assassin, working for the Illuminati, has kidnapped the four preferred cardinals and threatens to kill each one every hour, on the hour. Clues lead Langdon and his team, including Swiss Guard commander Richter (Stellan Skarsgard), all around the Vatican in a race against time to find the four altars of science and save the Church from certain catastrophe.

What we thought:

As with Harry Potter, The Devil Wears Prada, and so many other bestseller-to-big screen adaptations, things get lost in translation. The first step to enjoying, maybe even appreciating a movie with a primary source as widely read as Angels & Demons, is to accept this. You'll save yourself a lot of frustration.

In the highly anticipated movie, Robert Langdon returns to the Vatican and, along with scientist Vittoria Vetra (sultry Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer) rushes around the Vatican City making sense of a series of ancient clues in order to save the lives of the four cardinals in line to the papacy. The suspects are the ancient, pro-science sect the Illuminati. But all is not as it seems. As the Catholic Church is preparing to elect a new pope, the handsome young Camerlengo Patrick (Ewan McGregor), who was raised by the late Pope, finds himself in the position of papal stand-in while the conclave is underway. As if that’s not pressure enough, Langdon and Vetra learn that the Vatican City is hours away from being destroyed by a massive explosion after a cylinder containing anti-matter was stolen from the CERN labs in Geneva by a suspected Illuminati assassin (Nikolaj Lie Kaas).

The Illuminati, Langdon is happy to inform us, were a secret religious cult created by free-thinkers in the 17th century who championed scientific truth and were forced underground by the Church. In the movie, they come to the surface just as the world's attention is focused on the Vatican after the death of the Pope.

Tom Hanks is much more comfortable and assured in his role as Robert Langdon than he was in the snooze-fest that was The Da Vinci Code. You'd be forgiven for approaching Angels & Demons with a degree of caution, considering that director Ron Howard somehow conspired to reduce one of the most thrilling page-turners of the 21st century into the most tedious two hours of 2006. Thankfully, Howard has learned from his well-publicised mistakes and simplified the plot, allowing the thrill of the chase and the spectacular ancient Roman architecture to take centre stage.

The aesthetic appeal of Angels & Demons is strong and feels as if it was lifted straight from the pages of the novel. There certainly is plenty to feast your eyes on – from the macabre sight of branded flesh, to the various churches and sculptures on location, to the spectacular action sequences, the Vatican is probably where you'll want to spend your next vacation. 

Langdon is no Indiana Jones, that much we know. In fact, he can often come across as an exasperating know-it-all, spewing forth ancient history trivia like it's the latest craze, but the pace and energy of Angels give him a tolerably heroic sheen. Throw in a few genuinely suspenseful scenes and you have all the makings of a particularly highbrow installment of 24, entitled Jack Bauer Makes Time for God.

Expect a few jaw-dropping moments as the movie truly kicks into gear in its third act. What passes as theological rhetoric is kept to a minimum, so those looking for a reason to attack the "sacrilegious" Hollywood machine will be bitterly disappointed. This is the action spectacle we were expecting the first time round. Angels & Demons manages the impossible by making such divisive topics like history, politics and religion seem somewhat sexy.


Pacier and, dare we say, sexier than the 2006 turkey The Da Vinci Code, this theological conspiracy thriller is assured of success.

What to read next: Watch the trailer

WLB 2009/05/13 8:54 AM
Loved the book. Can't wait to see the movie.
Tatum 2009/05/13 10:22 AM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Saw a preview and it is SO much better than Da Vinci Code. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
Joe Soap 2009/05/13 11:04 AM
Crock of absolute shit. But hey. People love conspiracy, controversy and conflict.
Joe Dirt 2009/05/13 11:58 AM
Dont worry Joe Soap, I hear yet another depiction of Wuthering heights is coming soon especially for the likes of you. I for one can't wait to see this!
CTheB 2009/05/13 12:11 PM
Oh dear, it's Dan Brown again. I look forward to a long life never reading any of his books (or, from what I'm told by friends who've read his work, the same book that he keeps publishing with different names in the footsteps of Wilbur Smith) or seeing any of the movie adaptations. Something of a disappointment that a director like Ron Howard, who has some great movies to his name, is associated with this. But hey, different strokes for different folks. Here's to those who go in for that sort of thing enjoying it :-)
Mini 2009/05/13 12:22 PM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Why did they choose Tom Hanks to play Robert Langdon. He is so wrong for the role. I think Tom Hanks is a gr8 actor , but not for this role.
JP 2009/05/13 12:26 PM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Like WLB read the book and if the movie is half as good as the book, then surely a candidate for best movie of the year
Joe Somebody 2009/05/13 12:46 PM
Yeah! They are remaking Wuthering Heights? I can't wait!
fraud 2009/05/13 1:43 PM
After the Da Vinci Code, i'm not a Dan Brown fan. But I did read the book (Angels and Demons). Absolutely brilliant! Can't wait for the movie!
Gerard 2009/05/13 2:15 PM
I agree with Mini even though I have not yet seen the movie that Tom Hanks should have been replaced. Maybe... with someone like Harrison Ford?
patzululand 2009/05/13 2:26 PM
the book was brilliant, waiting with bated breath for the movie. but i agree with the comment above, tom hanks IS a brill actor but not right for this part.
nic 2009/05/13 2:42 PM
Da Vinci code was a turkey? please dont measure films by the number of car chases. The ideas put forth in that movie had to come across at a certain pace... not everything has to be done at cartoon speed. I read the book and then watched the movie, thought Ron Howard did a good job. As did people who had never read the book, well except for those that think it would be better if steven Segal played the Langdon character.
Gail 2009/05/14 8:46 AM
Dear CTheB Why read the reviews if you're not interested? Don't watch, don't read, whatever, spare us your diatribe of uninformed lack of wisdom..
HPF 2009/05/15 8:52 AM
Gail, spot on! Why anyone would show his ignorance by making irrelevant, uninformed comments really beats me. Dan Brown has been brilliant in all his books and I am looking forward to see this movie.
2me 2009/05/19 9:01 AM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
The movie sucks, it's as if the man can't read, and just pulls things out of his head. He ruined a perfectly good book
Kim 2009/05/19 10:23 AM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
Great movie - better than De Vinci Code - moved at a better pace - crap ending though
Dari 2009/05/19 11:33 AM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
I had to laugh at the journalist calling the Illuminati were a "religious cult"! They were men of science, artists etc. who if anything fought against religion, but yeah, details, details.... Entertaining movie, not as much as the book though.
CYA 2009/06/17 2:21 PM
  • Rating:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
THE BOOK IS VERY NICE AND ENJOYABLE HWEN IS MOVIE COMING OUT,HOPE IT BE AS GOOD AS THE BOOK GOOD GUYS KEEP IT UP.
NEXT ON CHANNELX
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.