Thursday, June 4, 2009

Demons & Angels

In all honesty, I feel very neutral about Angels & Demons. I was hoping that waiting a few days after I saw it would bring about a real opinion of sorts, but I'm still stuck with simply being entertained. It's not a bad movie, but it wasn't a great movie. I didn't feel it to be a waste of money, but I would've been just as satisfied to watch it on DVD.

I will say this: for those who read the book and believed the soap opera ending with the pope and the Camerlengo was too much, you'll be happy to know that it's not in the movie! That made me happy, and I apologize for confusing any non-readers. Believe me, if you go and read the book now, you'll really wonder what the hell Dan Brown was thinking with that ending. Alas, this is not a review for Dan Brown's book, this is a review for Ron Howard's movie.

Soon after the pope’s death, an antimatter bomb is stolen and placed somewhere in Vatican City. The culprits? The Illuminati--a defunct ancient secret organization (Is there any other kind of ancient organization?) who seem to no longer be defunct. An organization that was about the promotion of science and the downfall of the Church since the Church was all about their downfall way back in the day.

To pass the time until the bomb detonates, the enemy threatens to torture and kill the four cardinals that are favored for the Papacy, leaving symbols of the Illuminati to send a message. The only way to stop them is to find hidden clues in Rome's architecture and find the path of enlightment...or something like that.

Who better to help decipher ancient symbols and architectural clues but symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks)! Langdon, of course, isn't too liked by the religious crowd because of his antics in The Da Vinci Code, which are alluded to a few times to remind the audience that, unlike the book, this movie is a sequel not a prequel. But antics and atheism aside, the Vatican City police bring Langdon in anyway. His "sidekick" is Dr. Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer), a physicist who knows the ins and outs of the antimatter bomb. Langdon and Vetra are aided by the very understanding Carmerlengo Patrick McKenna (Ewan McGregor) and blocked on all fronts by the head of the Swiss Guard, Commander Richter (Stellan SkarsgÄrd).

With cardinals dying every hour on the hour and an antimatter bomb capable of destroying Vatican City and most of Rome, you would expect a high-octane action movie. And, for the most part, that's what you get. Tom Hanks and the beautiful sidekick race from place to place, uncovering clues, deciphering hidden texts, and trying to rescue cardinals. There's gun fire, daring rescues, and explosions. Even with all that, it just seemed rushed instead of fast-paced. I know in the book that they were only given four hours before the bomb goes off, but I think in the movie the time should have been extended a little bit.

It's very hard to believe that all this stuff--fires and drownings and stabbings and being locked in a room with no oxygen--could all happen in a matter of hours. Yes, it's a movie; I understand that, but I still didn't quite grab onto the suspension of disbelief that I want when watching a really good movie. Which means, I guess, that Angels & Demons just isn't a really good movie.

It has more action and less scientific talk than The Da Vinci Code, which will make lots of people very happy, but it was lacking a little of the mystery. Even if I hadn't read the book, I would've figured out who was behind the whole mess no more than 45 mintues into the movie (if that). And when you have a movie with a predictable ending, you really hope the ride is entertaining. Well, the ride was entertaining, but just not enough to make up for the predictable ending.

In the end, I think this is a video movie. See it at the matinee show if you really feel like hitting the theatres, but I'm sure there's a better way to spend $9.

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