Angels & Demons

Angels & Demons (2009)
★★★ / ★★★★

I enjoyed “Angels & Demons” more than “The Da Vinci Code” for several reasons. First is Ron Howard’s direction: In its prequel (even though, chronologically, “Angels & Demons” happened before “The Da Vinci Code” so it depends on how one looks at it), I felt that Howard was all over the place and missed some crucial information from Dan Brown’s novel. That is why the ending was not as powerful as it should have been. To me, the facinating locales were at the foreground instead of the story. It was so concerned with being so fast-paced that it almost sacrificed its emotions and the details that made the book such a page-turner. In here, the director has more focus and confidence when it comes to tackling certain scenes and some of them are downright impressive (whether it’s about thrills or visual effects). I also liked Tom Hanks a lot more here than I did in “The Da Vinci Code.” Aside from the absence of his ridiculous hair that distracted millions of audiences from the first film, I felt like Hanks is more comfortable as Robert Langdon–he has that certain intellectual swagger but he doesn’t take it too seriously. I have to admit that there were times when I forgot about Hanks playing a role; I was so interested in what was happening, trying to recall if the events that transpired in the novel were being accurately portrayed in the picture. I also liked the lack of chemistry between Hanks and Ayelet Zurer. As strange as that may sound, films have the tendency to attach a romantic angle to “spice things up” when they really do not need to. In fact, most of the time such romatic interests weigh the picture down so I was glad there was none of that nonsense in “Angels & Demons.” It’s really focused in Langdon’s quest to solve the mysteries that were unfolding in the Vatican. Lastly, I have to mention Ewan McGregor as Camerlengo Patrick McKenna. I’m not religious in any sense but the way he delivered some of his speeches were so powerful, I couldn’t help but have my eyes (as well as my ears) glued to the screen. He has a certain subtlety that is both charming and dangerous. Overall, “Angels & Demons” is a pretty entertaining summer blockbuster flick that really shouldn’t be taken all that seriously. It’s interesting to me how religious groups respond to these type of films. If they are so secure about their faith, films like this should not matter in any way. Its goal is to simply entertain and I think it achieved just that.

3 replies »

  1. About the lack of romantic angle…well, I didn’t feel the movie needed one. But I wonder what was the point of them holding hands at the beginning to pretend to be a married couple if it didn’t result in anything.

    In the book, they hooked up in a hotel room at the end. In the movie…nothing!

    All in all, I quite enjoyed the movie (and the twist), but it could have been edited by about 20 minutes for better pacing. We did a big screening recently, and about 3-4 of the people I talked to said they would see it again. It is quite a good movie (even though a little slow), probably would become a classic in years to come.

    Btw, let me know if you’ll like to go for some media screenings for new movies. I get invites for quite a few, mostly weeks before the opening. At weird times though, usually in the afternoon or early in the morning. Cheers!

  2. Josh: I honestly don’t remember them hooking up in the book. But then again maybe it’s just my mind trying to filter out the negatives from the novel because I really, really enjoyed reading it. Well, I’m glad they didn’t include that hotel room scene in the movie! It would’ve been significantly weaker.

    P.S.: Tell me more about the screenings. I’ve gotten some offers before but never took them up on it because such screenings are usually in L.A. and that’s like an hour or so away. =P

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