In Ron Howard's thrilling follow-up to The Da Vinci Code, expert symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) follows ancient clues on a heart-racing hunt through Rome to find the four Cardinals kidnapped by the deadly secret society, the Illuminati. With the Cardinals' lives on the line, and the Camerlengo (Ewan McGregor) desperate for help, Langdon embarks on a nonstop, action-packed race through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, and the most secretive vault on Earth!
If the devil is in the details, there's a lot of wicked fun in Angels & Demons, the sequel (originally a prequel) to The Da Vinci Code. Director Ron Howard delivers edge-of-your-pew thrills all over the Vatican, the City of Rome, and the deepest, dankest catacombs. Tom Hanks is dependably watchable in his reprised role as Professor Robert Langdon, summoned urgently to Rome on a matter of utmost urgency--which happens to coincide with the death of the Pope, meaning the Vatican is teeming with cardinals and Rome is teeming with the faithful. A religious offshoot group, calling themselves the Illuminati, which protested the Catholic Church's prosecution of scientists 400 years ago, has resurfaced and is making extreme, and gruesome, terrorist demands. The film zooms around the city, as Langdon follows clues embedded in art, architecture, and the very bone structure of the Vatican. The cast is terrific, including Ewan McGregor, who is memorable as a young protégé of the late pontiff, and who seems to challenge the common wisdom of the Conclave just by being 40 years younger than his fellows when he lectures for church reform. Stellan Skarsgard is excellent as a gruff commander of the Swiss Guard, who may or may not have thrown in with the Illuminati. But the real star of the film is Rome, and its High Church gorgeousness, with lush cinematography by Salvatore Totino, who renders the real sky above the Vatican, in a cataclysmic event, with the detail and majesty of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. --A.T. Hurley
Stills from Angels & Demons (click for larger image)