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Movie Review - 'Angels & Demons'

Angels & Demons

Starring Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, and Stellan Skarsgård
Directed by Ron Howard
Rated PG-13

angelsdemonsposter.jpg The only reason to think Angels & Demons might somehow be offensive to your religion is to not see the film. Though it comes from Dan Brown, the author of the controversial Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons is a mystery rooted in religion that doesn't try to re-route religion.

The Catholic Church loudly objected to the first film, but this time, the official Vatican newspaper gave Angels & Demons a pass, calling it harmless. And it is. Unfortunately, that's an adjective that applies to the film across the board. It's too safe, too soft, and not dangerous on any level.

It isn't so much that Angels & Demons should make anyone question the history or the methods of the Catholic Church, but you should, at some point, feel as though the resolution of the movie is in doubt. Symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) has been called in by the Vatican to help solve the mystery of who has kidnapped four cardinals before they're murdered.The question of who is behind it is answered almost immediately. Langdon tells Vatican officials the Illuminati is responsible.

It's a group that may or may not exist in reality, but in the film, the secret society of scientists, alchemists, and philosophers has infiltrated the highest reaches of nearly every major group in the world, from governments to businesses, and possibly even the Catholic Church. When the Pope passes away and the cardinals meet to elect a successor, the mysterious group springs into action, seeking revenge for a centuries old abuse of power by the Church aimed at the Illuminati.

The kidnappers leave coded clues, which is a silly dramatic device, because Langdon solves each one with seconds to spare, moving on to the next clue, and so on. You can't even call what's going on suspenseful, because Langdon solves the puzzles so quickly that we come to rely on his almost immediate response to whatever new challenge arises.

But there is life here. Hanks hasn't sold over $7 billion in movie tickets for no reason. He's a universal star not because of the films he's in but because he's personable, appealing, and smart. Running around the great cities of Europe may not be the best use of his talents, but he's more at home here than he is in Da Vinci Code.

As a young priest on the periphery of the case, Ewan McGregor has a few good moments. He was close to the late pontiff and seems more aware than the older generation of holy men that science and religion can co-exist.

Director Ron Howard paces this film better than Da Vinci Code, but it's not without certain sacrifices. The previous film was a better whodunit, even though the new movie is a more standard one. If Howard had slowed down the action in the first 90 minutes and sped up the resolution, it would probably be more satisfying on an intellectual level, yet the measured flow of Da Vinci made it a little boring.

There are cinematic elements to the stories, and Hanks and Howard are reportedly going to give it one more shot, once Dan Brown writes another novel. Until then, there's one good movie made up of parts from two.

Reader Comments (3)

I thought Angels & Demons was a better book than The Da Vinci Code, but was not impressed with the Da Vinci Code movie. While I think Angels and Demons looks like a better movie, I still think I'll wait for it to come out on DVD.

Friday, May 15, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJosh

The movie follows the book up to the ending and then Ron Howard takes a subtle, but effective swipe at the basic beliefs of the Christians.

For some, the point may be too subtle but for those who got it, the last dig scored a solid hit.

In the twist ending, Prof. Langdon proves, with a gold key, that Science trumps faith. The Cardinals were ready to act on "signs" from the Holy Spirit but when they were exposed to Scientific knowledge, they quickly changed their minds. Subtle but Effective. I like this ending much more than the one in the book.

Sunday, May 17, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterEd

the movie is way too different from the book, some detail from the book were changed and removed. it's just sad, though im not saying that they should film the whole book, some important details were removed which made the movie a bit confusing... haist, anyway,it's a good movie.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteryang

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