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Tom Hanks returns as Dan Brown's symbologist Robert Langdon in his
first adventure Angels & Demons, which Hollywood decided to make after
The Da Vinci Code, given the latter's more controversial subject
striking a raw nerve on the faith itself. The Catholic Church was up in
arms over the first film, but seemingly nonchalant about this one. And
it's not hard to see why, considering Ron Howard had opted to do a
flat-out action piece that serves as a great tourism video of Rome and
Vatican City, and would probably boost visitor numbers given the many
beautiful on-location scenes, save for St Peter's Square and Basilica
which was a scaled model used.
So I guess with the bulk of the budget going toward the sets, the ensemble cast had to be correspondingly scaled down. Ayelet Zurer tried to step into the female void left by Audrey Tautou, but given Tautou's character then having a lot more stake in the film, Zurer's scientist Vittoria had a lot less to do other than just waiting in the wings to change some batteries on a canister filled with anti-matter. In the book she's the fodder of course for Langdon to converse his vast knowledge of the Vatican, the Illuminati and the great feud between the two, but here she's neither love interest, nor his intellectual equal.
Ewan McGregor on the other hand, chews up each scene he's in as Camerlengo Patrick McKenna, who is temporarily taking care of the Papal office while the other prominent cardinals are in the Sistine Chapel to elect a new Pope. And he plays Patrick with that glint in the eye, with nuances enough to let you know there's more than meets the eye. There's no surprises here for readers of the novel, but McGregor's performance here is one of the highlights of the film as Hanks plays well, Tom Hanks.
The book itself is rich with arguably accurate content as always, and had a lot more plot points on science versus religion, and a wealth of information that Dan Brown researched and linked together in an engaging fictional piece of work. While reading the book some years ago, I thought that should a film be made of it, it's easy to lapse and dwell more on the set action pieces. Sadly, that's what this Ron Howard film did, with a pace that doesn't allow a temporary breather. Unlike the first film where you had the characters sit down for some "discussion time" over a cup of tea, this one moved things along so quickly, it's like reading the book all over again, page after page being skipped just to get to the thick of the action.
Catholic reviewers have called Angels & Demons harmless, because I guess it didn't dwell on its many controversies, unlike The Da Vinci Code which struck a raw nerve at the centre of the faith. And if anything, this film served as a great tourism promotional video with a nice showcase of the many prominent touristy landmarks that would entice many around the world to go pay a visit. Naturally certain areas like the catacombs beneath St Peter's Basilica, and the Vatican archives remain out of bounds, but the walk along the Path of Illumination, now that's almost free.
Nothing new for those who have read the book other than to see it come alive, but for those who haven't, this film may just compel you to pick up Dan Brown's novel just to read a bit more about the significance about the landmarks, and characters such as Galileo, Michelangelo and Bernini who are intricately linked to the plot, but much left unsaid. Satisfying pop-corn entertainment leaving you with nothing spectacular.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It is difficult to imagine how the engaging Dan Brown novel "Angels and
Demons" could misfire as badly as this film version. Here are ten
reasons why the film was a failure. Due to the spoilers, please do no
read on unless you have already seen the film.
(1) In the film, there was no love relationship between Robert Langdon and Vittoria Vetra. Worse still, there was not even any chemistry between the two leading actors.
(2) The breathtaking locations in Rome, as described in the novel, were not realized visually in the film. I am aware that director Ron Howard encountered difficulties in filming on location. But there are superior photographed depictions of Rome on The History Channel than in this film where the Eternal City was presented in eternal stock film footage. The great art works described in the novel were only briefly depicted in the film. The magnificent Bernini sculpture of the "Ecstasy of St. Teresa" was only momentarily glimpsed, and the West Ponente relief in Vatican Square was not visible at all.
(3) The most tasteless choice made by the film-maker was in the depiction of the deceased pope who actually resembled the beloved John Paul II. In the novel, the pope is clearly fictional with no resemblance to any real pope.
(4) One of the most colorful (and important) characters of the novel, Maximilian Kohler, Director of CERN, was cut out of the screenplay.
(5) There were numerous instances when the lines of dialog were inaudible due to extraneous background noise.
(6) There were moments when the faces of characters were not visible due to the shadows and chiaroscuro film lighting. This technique worked in "The Godfather" films, but Ron Howard is no Gordon Willis.
(7) The College of Cardinals was quite a motley crew with one of the electors speaking in a Southern drawl. This dude would have been more at home on a Texas ranch than in the Sistine Chapel.
(8) The crucial relationship of the Camerlengo and the deceased Pope was not defined in the film. This relationship was central to the theme of science vs. religion and the relevance of the Illuminati to the plot against the church.
(9) In the novel, the character of Hassassin was an unforgettable villain. In the film, that assassin character's role was a cardboard cutout villain.
(10) As a whole, the filmmakers did not trust the workings of the successful novel.
In the novel, Langdon makes an impossible fall out of the sky and into the Tiber River. In Ron Howard's film, it was the movie itself that landed in the Tiber.
I am sorry for all the readers, but I don't know where to begin.
Let me say at first that I'm not a big Dan Brown fan, but I read Angels & Demons with great pleasure. The book deals a lot with the eternal question of Science vs. Religion and that made me think a lot about that subject again. That big battle is totally lost in the movie.
A lot of the important lines in the book (CERN, Maximilian Kohler, the scepsis of the Swiss Guard, the love relationship between Robert and Vittoria, the Hassassin, the relationship between the Camerlengo and the pope) are lost in the movie screenplay. This makes the movie a very cut-down and over-simplified version.
Would the movie be any good if I hadn't read the book? I still doubt it. From scene 3 on, the movie is a 'chase-movie' without interruption. There is no time for contemplation or depth. No story-line, no backgrounds. It's just a chase movie in a GREAT decorum.
You would think that with a running time of about 140 minutes a movie is able to bring more. Much more.
Where Da Vinci code introduced us to Dr. Robert Langdon and his knack
for solving puzzles, Angels and Demons ups the ante by providing a huge
puzzle with an 8 hour limit.
With a cast of award winning actors, Ron Howard does a good job of directing a story that was easy to follow and even easier to accept. The Da Vinci code threw so many angles at you in such a short time that a quick bathroom break would leave you a bit confused on return. I didn't feel this was with Angels and Demons, the plot was straight-forward and the action kept the interest level peaked throughout.
Cardinal Strauss (Armin Mueller-Stahl) was easily my favorite character in the movie. His portrayal of the elitist, yet misunderstood rank of the Catholic Church was very good and combined with the victim of his treatment Camerlengo Patrick McKenna (Ewan McGregor), you will find yourself choosing sides immediately upon introduction. There isn't a great amount of Tom Hanks time as the film focuses more on story than character development and this did well with me being that I had more than enough introduction from the first movie.
Unfortunately I found Ayelet Zurer's character Vittoria Vetra to be an unnecessary femme assistant in the quest since her lines were a bit limited and seemed much like an afterthought. She does play a key role in the beginning of things but she soon fades into the background of being Langdon's "familiar" more-so than a necessary partner.
The plot is as such, one of the organizations that the Catholic Church wronged in the past (there have been quite a few) has sought revenge in a most artistic manner. Some men of the church are kidnapped and are set to be executed at specific times until an ultimate end to the church itself will happen. Dr. Robert Landon is brought in to help decipher the clues and teams up with the beautiful Vittoria Vetra, a scientist who witnessed a colleague die at the hands of the church's enemy.
Music staying relevant and the cinematography beautiful, I could chime on about this menial things but what makes Angels and Demons absolutely work is it's conclusion. It was by far one of the most amazingly surprising endings I have seen in a movie and I was impressed at how off-guard I was when it hit me. Like anyone else I appreciate a great wrap-up and this movie wraps it up quite tight and drops a pretty bow on it. Needless to say I left the theater pleased at the movie in it's entirety.
If you are religious and unsure if this movie will offend your Catholic principles. I can say that where The DaVinci code painted Catholicism as a shady cover-up group of sadists, Angels and Demons paints them with a much lighter brush. The church is shown as being a collective of good men who are made to suffer for the sins of evil and misguided men who wore their colors and even a few who have infiltrated their modern ranks.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I usually try not to spoiler: in this case I shall do so
wholeheartedly. Don't read on if it bothers you.
First I must comment on The Da Vinci Code phenomenon. Angels And Demons,(the movie) is a vague sequel (albeit the book precedes the Da Vinci book). While Da Vinci was hardly deathless prose, it told an interesting, unusual story at breakneck pace in an easy-to-follow manner. It was pacey and entertaining. It sold shedloads, and deservedly so. The movie adaptation was faithful, but lost the novel's immediacy: it still had broad appeal and did well at the box office, hence this sequel.
So to Angels And Demons (where I haven't read the book). In the run up to the Cardinals' voting in Conclave for a new Pope, four of them are kidnapped. Despite reservations about Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks, hardly pro-Catholicism in Da Vinci) the Vatican consults him. He figures out that this is the work of the Illuminati, a secret group dating back to the Renaissance, who seek revenge for the Vatican wiping out many of them in the 16th century for their pro-science, anti-Catholic views. Together with a lady scientist whose research generated an antimatter bomb stolen by the Illuminati, intended to wipe the Vatican off the map, Langdon engages in a clue-laden race against time, looking for the missing cardinals and the bomb. He is helped by Ewan MacGregor's Camerlengo Patrick McKenna (Camerlengo is acting Pope until the Conclave comes up with a new one - a functional rather than authoritarian position) and hindered by Stellan Skarsgard's head of Vatican police. Armin Mueller-Stahl is a Cardinal who may have his own agenda. There is further jeopardy from the fact that the Illuminati have probably infiltrated the Vatican at the highest level.
So far, so not-very-spoilery. Much action, racing around, convoluted clues etc., key factors which made Da Vinci so successful, albeit with a noticeably less credible plot. We even have have a couple of likely suspects - Starsgard's unhelpful police chief and Mueller-Stahl's cagey Cardinal.
Now for the rest of the plot. Three Cardinals are killed, but the fourth is saved. The bomb is recovered. However, there is insufficient time for it to be defused. McKenna takes it up in a news helicopter, and bails out. The bomb detonates, the shock wave causes relatively little damage, but McKenna's gesture in saving the Vatican and thousands of lives means he is certain to be voted in as Pope by popular acclaim. Of course, he turns out to be the villain, having murdered the old Pope and arranged the whole thing. Thank you, Robert Langdon, the end.
This pleased me in one respect - while the film still had you believing that the Illuminati existed, I wondered why they would leave a series of clues pointing to where the bomb was? Of course, as it was all McKenna's masterplan, he wanted the bomb found.
But then I started thinking about this masterplan. Let me list the parts of it (McKenna never does the standard explanatory monologue, you're left to figure it out yourself):
1. Steal antimatter;
2. Make antimatter bomb;
3. Poison Pope;
4. Recruit professional killer to kidnap and kill Cardinals;
5. Create trail based on incredibly complex clues from poem in priceless 16th century book in Vatican archive):
6. Rely on Langdon solving clues in time;
7. Make car bomb to blow up professional killer;
8. Rely on helicopter being nearby once bomb is recovered;
9. Rely on there being sufficient time to get helicopter, fly it high enough to avoid total destruction (despite nobody having the slightest idea exactly what effects of antimatter bomb might be), bail out, get to ground safely;
10. Rely on hero factor being sufficient to result in being elected as Pope.
The rationale (I think) was that, as Pope, he could prevent the Catholic Church living happily with science.
As a plan, I thought that this was risibly implausible. I happily suspend disbelief and willingly did so while the hunt was on, but the revelation of who the baddie was (and, therefore, what his plan must have been) was, to be frank, utterly idiotic - so idiotic, in fact, that it devalued the rest of the film.
There was some other stuff which made me scoff with derision:
McKenna is branded on the chest: a large glowing brand, maybe 20 cm square, is applied forcefully to his chest for upwards of 5 seconds, following which it is dropped to the floor where is sets the carpet smouldering. Yet this doesn't seem to phase him in the slightest - he races through tunnels and flies helicopters with nary a whimper (he does hold it as if it's a bit tender later on, though).
Earlier in the film McKenna tells a story about his military service which ends with him explaining that's where he learned to fly helicopters. It would have been a good deal less clumsy if he had simply whipped out a sign and hung it round his neck reading "I'm going to be flying a helicopter later in this movie."
Langdon rewinds the security video stored on the police chief's computer. The computer makes the noise of an audio tape being rewound across the replay heads!
My favourite bit was when the girl scientist tears a page out of a priceless 16th century book (the page which carries the all-important clues to finding the Cardinals and the bomb, in the form of a poem in English printed in watermarks in the paper!), not because it was an inherently good bit, but because I was immensely tickled at the gasp of horror coming from a lady in the audience.
This film was mistitled. It should have been called "Angels, Demons, And Complete And Utter B*ll*cks."
Before seeing the sneak preview today of Angels & Demons, I cleared my
mind of any uncertainties that might hold me back from enjoying it; the
enormous amount of hatred towards Dan Brown, the fact that it was
written by Dan Brown, and because Dan Brown's name is slapped on all of
the posters. I went in with an open mind, and expected the worse, but
instead what I got was a 2 and a half hour Roman cat and mouse game
with Forrest Gump, and that is by all means good entertainment value.
The movie hangs loosely on the actual novel itself. Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon (Hanks) jets off to Rome after the Pope's sudden death and the re-election through Papal Conclave. Arranging all of this is the carmelengo, Patrick McKenna (McGregor). However, he soon learns of a new threat, one that involves a secret brotherhood making its presence known, an anti-matter time bomb that Vatican City is now targeted with and the kidnapping of four cardinals. Langdon, using his intellects (and trust me, you'll be hearing a LOT from it) is given the task of finding and rescuing them using the mysterious Path of Illumination. Aiding him on the quest is CERN scientist Vittoria Vetra (Zurer), who is also the co-creator of the anti-matter.
The movie itself runs at an uneven pace. One minute Langdon and the Swiss Guard are speeding to save a branded cardinal, the next minute he bores you with pointless information about every random object he passes, evidently slowing the book's much anticipated action/thriller sequences down. It makes for an interesting read on paper, but on screen it can go either way.
The character's are decently written onto the big screen. Ewan McGregor does a convincing performance as the quiet but knowledgeable Patrick McKenna, famous accent included. Tom Hanks is slightly more agile, intellectually and physically, since his last performance in the mediocre Da Vinci Code. Stellen Skarsgard plays Commander Richter, the straight-faced leader of the Swiss Guard. Unfortunately, neither his nor Ayelet Zurer's performance are worthwhile ones, and instead of playing a part in the story, they are just kicked aside as assets.
However, Angels & Demons accomplishes what DVC could never; a thrilling fast-paced movie filled with satisfying explosions, beautiful recreations of St. Peter's Square and Basilica (including many of the churches) and a pulsing bomb counting down the midnight hour. Ron Howard does a decent job at directing this second Langdon adventure, this time taking in much criticism and almost completely exchanging the boring dialogue for tense chases (almost).
While newcomers might call it a "National Treasure 3" with a much larger threat, there is still enough contagious suspense/thriller eye-candy and brilliant still shots of Rome to breathe in. Fans of the book might feel differently towards the movies drastic changes, but considering the amount of blasphemy and inaccuracy it generates, A&D does exceedingly well at keeping the viewer locked on to the screen this time rather than on their sleepy shoulder.
A good book-to-movie adaption that will both appeal and entertain.
I read Angels and Demons about 3 years ago, and I can honestly say to
is one of the few books that I couldn't put down while reading.
The movie however was pretty much what i expected, a lot of action, with somewhat of a mystery storyline. Tom Hanks plays, in my opinion, a much better role, of Professor Langdon than in The Da Vinci Code.
You won't have to worry about this being as bad as The Da Vinci Code, this is everything that it wasn't. Much more interesting, more action, more suspense, and less of the unneeded controversy. If you haven't read the book, no worries you will still find it very interesting. And if you have read the book, well lets say you might be a little let down because I found many scenes missing that I was looking forward to.
Overall, Pretty impressive film for any everyday movie goer. But, maybe not something too special for Dan Brown fans.
I go to the movies to be entertained. I was very entertained by the
first film in this series: The DaVinci Code. It had plenty of twists
and turns throughout to keep me very interested. Angels and Demons is
no different. If you enjoyed the DaVinci Code, then you will
undoubtedly enjoy this movie as well. Angels and Demons is made pretty
much with the exact same style as the previous film, but faster paced,
which I liked. Ron Howard kept me glued to my seat for the full two
hours without boring me one bit.
What I really liked about this movie was that even though it is obviously fictitious, they leave enough real history to make it seem very believable. If there is one thing that I didn't like about this movie, it is that the plot itself is very unbelievable (don't want to give any spoilers). But hey, it's a movie. I was entertained throughout the whole thing and was very satisfied with what I saw.
I was at the premier of the movie last night in Rome. I am not an
expert in the book, however there are a great deal of changes from the
book to the movie. The pacing of this movie is much faster than the
Davinci code. Many things were trimmed otherwise this would be a 4 hour
movie. Many things were also changed to give the movie a fast pace. I
think what matters is the feel of the movie and that works well for
Hanks, Brown and company.
There are some things in the book that would appear very implausible in the movie form. I am not giving any spoilers, except to say the ending of the movie is handled in a slightly different way. How Leonardo Vetra was found is also different. Those who see the movie might be interested in reading the book to get the full details of the story. Some minor details are are also cut from the movie.
Although they did film in Rome, they had to recreate interior shots. Since I went on a walking tour of Rome the day before the movie I can say that the interior sites are authentic in look and feel. Kohler is not in the movie and not much is shown about CERN. Hanks does a good job and there are some interesting scenes involving the Vatican archives. Of course they had no access to that area and I am not sure if anyone actually knows what the Vatican archives look like. Eyelet Zurer has her break in this movie as Victoria Vetra and does a good job as eye candy for Hanks.
This movie should be received better by the critics and public, but you never know. Ron Howard mentioned several times in interviews and as we saw him and the cast before the movie, that this is just a movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The implausibility of the plot has been noted by several commentators, particularly the immense amount of trouble Fr McKenna would have had to have gone to, and the sheer impossibility of some of the calculations he would have had to have made, including that Langdon was going to decipher each clue in minutes. McKenna is branded; a few seconds later he is giving orders, and a few minutes later, he is running (literally) around in charge of operations -- in real life, he would be in shock. And, as usual in thrillers, the assassin doesn't kill the heroes, giving as his only lame explanation that they were not on the list of those to be killed, as though every other innocent bystander he shot was. I have always used Independence Day as the hallmark of a truly awful film (US President commandeers jet plane and beats off aliens, ha ha), and this effort runs it close. For such an implausible film, Angels and Demons contains a remarkable number of predictable incidents. Who didn't laugh knowingly when the assassin went to get his reward in the Volkswagen? I felt like shouting, "You are going to be blown up". Who didn't know that the heroine was going to find a body in the lab? Who didn't spot the baddie? Technically also, the film was awful. The dialogue was more often indecipherable than clear, while the races across Rome to the next church were accompanied by deafening music. Moreover, many scenes looked like mud. The one redeeming feature was the shots of Rome and what looked like the Vatican -- an achievement, because I am sure that the Vatican officials would not have wanted this dross shot in and around St Peter's -- and the interiors were convincing. Rome is a magic place, and I enjoyed seeing it fleetingly.
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