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Angels and Demons, Movie Review

Angels and Demons: Information Overload

Angels and Demons reunites Tom Hanks and Ron Howard for another Dan Brown adaptation. While Brown's book was a prequel to the author's best-selling The Da Vinci Code, this installment in the movie franchise is set up as a sequel.

The Da Vinci Code received awful reviews when it debuted, mostly due to its excruciatingly slow pace. It then went on to earn a gazillion dollars, proving there's an appetite for escapist movies involving Vatican conspiracy theories. But while the pacing is much improved in Angels and Demons, the mindless entertainment part is basically ruined thanks to an enormous amount of expository dialogue. Every time the action starts to click along, every time the mystery deepens, Hanks's professor character shows up with another long-winded history lesson that's completely pointless in terms of understanding the plot. In other words, it's a buzzkill.

To see why this would be a much better experience if the professor were muzzled,


The story begins promisingly enough with some high-stakes circumstances. The beloved pope is dead! The preferiti — the four cardinals up for pope — have been kidnapped! The kidnapper is leaving clues full of strange symbols! This must be a job for a symbologist!

Enter Harvard scholar Robert Langdon (Hanks), whom we first see buff and tanned (and without that terrible bouffant he sported the last time) swimming laps. A man with a briefcase approaches. In the first of many "Thank you, Captain Obvious" moments, Langdon pops up for air and explains in great detail that a symbol on the briefcase must mean the man is from the Vatican. And then the man says, "Yes. I am from the Vatican." That's the sort of thing that happens all throughout this movie.

Regardless, the chase is on to save the cardinals from a mad man who Langdon believes is part of an ancient group of scientists/terrorists called the Illuminati. Adding to the suspense is a dangerous "God particle," stolen from an Italian biophysicist named Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer), ticking away like a time bomb and threatening to blow the Holy City to smithereens.

Further complicating the story is a cast of Vatican power players filled out by three excellent actors: Armin Mueller-Stahl, Stellan Skarsgard, and Ewan McGregor. I wish these characters had their own movie in which they could maneuver around each other in the aftermath of the pope's mysterious death. But no, they have to call in that yappy professor, who takes forever to explain things the audience has already figured out.

While the first half of the movie is predictable and mind-numbing, the final act is so preposterous it's actually fun. The climactic scene is so silly and nonsensical you'll likely have fun talking about it for days (I know I have). The set design and costumes are actually quite beautiful, as is the cinematography, which gives many of the scenes a lovely, heavenly glow.

In the end the ingredients are all there for a stylish and fun (and most holy) suspense thriller. Too bad Howard and his team ruined it by talking too much.

Photos courtesy of Sony Pictures

Join The Conversation
Calimie Calimie 8 years
I loved it, it was really entertaining. I haven't read the book, but from summaries I believe the changes were for the best. What I like the most was, without a doubt, Ewan McGregor's character, the most fun I've seen in a long time. I'm about to watch the film again and pay even more attention to everything he says and does.
brattypotter brattypotter 8 years
Dan Brown's books are always filled with heaps of historical information (either faux or real), so wouldn't you think if they were translated to film -- as in the case of both Da Vinci and Angels & Demons -- it would involve a lot of explaining and talking? They actually dwindled down the history babble in this one, taking down some plots from the book. Less talk and more action are for films like Transformers, not on this where the essence of the movie basically lies on all the information. Angels & Demons was way better than the Da Vinci...I actually liked the movie better than the book.
karen-f karen-f 8 years
I watched it for the extra infomation!! I think it makes it so much more interesting. Although the science was quite hollywood-ly exaggerated and inaccurate, I think the history was well explained for people who were interested.
reesiecup reesiecup 8 years
it's been a few years since i've read the book, but i think i'll watch it for the sake of watching it. and ewan is most enticing!
Shadowcat14 Shadowcat14 8 years
I really enjoyed it. The book was great. I thought the Da Vinci Code movie was ok. But the Angels and Demons movie was so much fun. As a history nut I didn't even notice the "divergences" and "extra explanations." And I mean, it stays true to his character as a history professor who specializes with symbols and religion.
LOVErickii LOVErickii 8 years
i enjoyed the movie. & the 2hours of my time it took up felt like it went by quickly so i guess i got sucked into the story. but i know not to expect too much from books turned into movies.
Countess827 Countess827 8 years
Note: I hated Da Vinci Code. I felt like they dumbed it down for the audience and held to a too literal adaptation of the book. Angels and Demons though kept me on the edge of my seat. It was exciting, minus the nerdy dialogue, but oh well. It was a popcorn flick.
figurine figurine 8 years
Hehe, sounds like the final act is exactly like it is in the book. :D
tyffi tyffi 8 years
There's a reason why I generally don't like books being turned into movies. However, I'm gonna watch this one - once it's out on DVD and up for rent.
brilliance13 brilliance13 8 years
I still want to see this!
fleurfairy fleurfairy 8 years
I read the book a couple years ago, so I want to see this regardless of the reviews. Let's face it, Tom Hanks will never be bad in anything. It's not possible. And as a Catholic myself, I like to see issues in the Catholic Church put out there for discussion.
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