Angels & Demons
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In Ron Howard's thrilling follow-up to The Da Vinci Code, expert symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) pursues ancient clues on a heart-racing hunt through Rome to find the four Cardinals kidnapped by a 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 secret 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)
Writing Angels & Demons
Characters In Search Of The True Story
CERN: Pushing the Frontiers of Knowledge
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Tom Hanks/Robert Langdon is just the smart man in the prequel, yet in Angels & Demons the Catholic Church gets to challenge him back. Additionally, the casting of Ayelet Zureh tags a subliminal romantic tension for Langdon – which is often a narrative vantage point which Howard uses in flushing out his characters. Digging into Langdon’s character lends more for the audiences to invest in; similar to A Beautiful Mind and Frost/Nixon, the more desperate the situation becomes, the more we see the characters develop.
Furthermore, the Robert Langdon films owe a debt of gratitude to the masterful score of Hans Zimmer. The music and songs of Howard’s films are essential to the tone, particularly the spirited themes in the finales (few of Howard’s films ever quietly fade to black). Zimmer’s requiem Gregorian chants for The Da Vinci Code are ideal, yet in Angels & Demons he outdoes himself, setting the film on a higher plateau from standard popcorn flick.
In the category: Roman Catholic films, this is too RC for my taste. /The Shoes of the Fisherman/ was perfectly fine.
In the category: mystery, this is actually not bad -- it did keep me guessing up to the end.
In the category: investigation, it's too busy -- and I could not help noticing certain similarities between this film and /Inferno/, as if the author knew only one way to tell a story, and used it over (and over?) again with variations on the details.
I think I'm just not that interested in or impressed by an academic who desperately wants to /see/ a certain book but, when he has it in his hands, has to have somebody else translate it for him, and who doubles as an action figure/detective of sorts.
My bigger gripe, holding back my review from 4 stars, is that my copy's digital code voucher had already expired, back in 2014. Disappointing to say the least, but not the worst thing ever.
I cannot remember my reaction to the earlier movie based on a Dan Brown novel, The Da Vinci Code, so I cannot compare it with this one. Taken by itself, it is by no means first rate, but it is good and worth seeing.,
The assassin, responsible for the death of four of the Vatican's Cardinals, kills each in the manner of the four elements: Earth, Air, Fire and Water.
All in all, the acting is good, videography great, editing top-notch. And the ever popular reminder, IT IS A MOVIE! It's meant for entertainment.
Note: The Da Vinci Code book was written in 2003. Angels & Demons preceded it by three years being published in 2000. The Lost Symbol was published in 2009, likely to be released as a movie in the future.