Saturday, 19 September 2020
Angels and Demons
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Wednesday, 20 May 2009 20:02

angelsanddemonsposterAdventure! Conspiracy! A bomb ticking down to certain doom! And one of the most boring films you’ll see this summer. I’m not sure how Ron Howard managed to botch all the action packed elements of Angels and Demons, but somehow the overall effect did little to keep me in my seat, and certainly not on the edge of it.

Tom Hanks is back as the notorious professor Robert Langdon, a symbologist who has earned the wrath of the Catholic Church for his sacrilegious findings. In The DaVinci Code he nearly brought down the church single-handedly by discovering the mysteries of the Holy Grail. Now The Vatican is turning to him for help to rescue four cardinals, candidates for the Papacy, who are being murdered one by one. Clues are left leading to the scenes of the murders and Langdon has to decipher them before it is too late. It is suspected that The Illuminati is involved, a secret brotherhood that once wanted to marry the teachings of the church with scientific fact, until they were hunted down and killed as heretics. To top it all of, an important scientist has been murdered and a very destructive weapon stolen, one that has the power to kill millions.

As you can see there are a lot of elements to provide suspense and tension, but somehow it just falls flat. It seems odd to say that a 700-page novel would be faster-paced and more exciting than a 140-minute film, but that is exactly the case with both of Dan Brown’s novels. There is nothing technically wrong with the film version of Angels and Demons, but it certainly doesn’t crackle on screen.

angelsanddemonspic1It is beautifully filmed however, and the locations around Vatican City look absolutely beautiful although none of the filming actually took place there. St. Peter’s Basilica, St. Peter’s Square and the Sistine Chapel are just some of the locations that were painstakingly recreated digitally or on the backlot, and several locations around Rome were used to substitute for the real thing. The effect is lovely and quite convincing.

I liked Hanks as Langdon better this time around. Maybe it’s because the Langdon from the books is not as fresh in my mind. In The DaVinci Code I really found Hanks to be a poor choice, not at all what I had in my head. He is more convincing here and also has a more age appropriate co-star to work with. Ayelet Zurer plays Vittoria, a beautiful physicist who had been working on the stolen science project. There isn’t really any romance between them - in fact they share very little screen time. It might have been nice to see more interaction between the two characters. Ewan McGregor also co-stars, as a young holy man who is frustrated that his advice often falls upon deaf ears among his peers. McGregor is not entirely convincing and seems to just be skimming the surface of this role.

angelsanddemonspic2The story is not involving, perhaps because of the detatched narrative. I really felt no urgency, no concern for the characters, and probably worst yet – no sense of discovery. Unlike in The DaVinci Code, the audience doesn’t even have a chance at cracking the codes or solving the puzzles, so all that’s left is to sit numbly and watch the events unfold at breakneck speed. Watching Angels and Demons is kind of like watching someone else’s family trip videos. Sure you get to see it all, but you don’t experience it!