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Movie Review: Angels & Demons

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Prinz Lee wrote this review 6 years and 4 months ago

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PL's Archive: Written May 15, 09

Tom Hanks is a likable guy and no matter what film he puts out, good or bad, he will always be endeared by audiences.  He's reached a stage in his career where he doesn't even have to try and create a character and can just basically play himself.  Despite its tremendous box-office success, his third venture with director Ron Howard, 'The DaVinci Code", didn't gel with everyone.  A convoluted story, an excessive number of characters and a lot of boring exposition made the film feel like an episode of 'Scooby Doo' on steroids.  Yet Hanks' star power and Howard's directing skills managed to elevate the material of Dan Brown's phenomenally success book into a feature length film that still had some entertainment value.  Their follow-up, 'Angels & Demons' is also an entertaining film even though it will most certainly be difficult for the average viewer to follow.  The story is not as convoluted as 'The DaVinci Code' and without dumbing down the material David Koepp and Akiva Goldsman simplify Brown's novel.  But there are still times the viewer, may wonder what the hell is going on.

I won't bore you with intricate details involving the plot, the various characters or how science and religion play roles in this story.  Though the novel was published first, this story takes place after the events of 'The DaVinci Code' with Hanks' Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon being summoned to aid an investigation at the Vatican.  The pope is dead, presumably of natural causes, and as the intricate process of choosing a new holy father begins, four Cardinals who are top candidates for the position have been kidnapped.  The culprits appear to be the Illuminati, a secret brotherhood of artists and scientists who were persecuted by the Church for challenging Catholicism with their scientific beliefs.  Once a peaceful organization, the Illuminati grew vengeful and violent and after being driven underground for centuries, have returned to strike at the heart of the Vatican.  Having published a book about this secret organization, Langdon is considered an expert and his services are requested by Vatican police. 

I didn't like this film, but I didn't hate it either.  Hanks is such a familiar presence that he could probably make exposition about the properties of a jelly donut sound fascinating.  It's good to see him more physical and engage himself in the story even if he looks like a chicken running around without a head.  Hanks does run through some impressive locales and Howard's production design team should be commended for some rather impressive work. One wise choice is that Howard and Co. don't explore the subject of science versus religion too deeply.  They don't ignore it either, but treat it with a level of respect and pull off the difficult task of wrapping it around an action thriller.  This film is actually trying to be about something rather than a paint by numbers action spectacle. It's not really that thrilling, but its a step above the last one.  Maybe they'll truly get it right the third time around when Brown's soon to be published Langdon novel is inevitably adapted for the screen.



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