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May 15, 2009
Review - " Angels and Demons "  - (in Theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Angels and Demons - movie poster
Ewan McGregor - Angels and Demons
Tom Hanks and Ayelet Zurer - Angels and Demons
Angels and Demons
Directed by Ron Howard
Starring: Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Armin Mueller-Stahl,
Stellam Skarsgard

You don't need to have sat through The Da Vinci Code to follow the plot of
Angels and Demons: In terms of pure story, the two movies have absolutely
nothing to do with each other. But as was the case with Da Vinci, you might
want to bring some reading material and a flashlight to the theater - you know,
to help pass the time.

Angels and Demons isn't as talky as The Da Vinci Code. Despite the first
movie's phenomenal box-office gross, director Ron Howard still heeded the
advice of people who complained that it was too long, too slow and convoluted
and that Tom Hanks' poofy hairstyle made him look ridiculous.

The new film, which is technically a prequel to Da Vinci but could also pass for
a two-hour episode of 24, rarely stands still long enough for anyone to deliver
a monologue. Even Jack Bauer would have trouble keeping up with
symbologist Robert Langdon as he races around Rome, trying to foil the
centuries-old sect known as the Illuminati which plans to blow up the Vatican
with a bomb made of anti-matter.
Why are the pro-science Illuminati so pissed off? Because they were driven underground in the 17th century by the
Catholic Church and want a little payback. (Unpaid debts never go away; they just fester and collect interest.) Why have
they chosen this particular moment to strike back? Because the pope has just croaked, and the church is in the process of
electing his replacement.

Even worse, someone within the Vatican appears to be conspiring with the Illuminati. But who is it? The imperious captain
(Stellan Skarsgard) of the Swiss Guard? The naive young priest (Ewan McGregor) who was the pope's disciple? The
power-hungry cardinal (Armin Mueller-Stahl) who always insists that rules be followed?

Screenwriters David Koepp and Akiva Goldsman dole out more red herrings than a fishmonger would, while Hanks and his
requisite female sidekick (an Italian scientist played by the lovely Ayelet Zurer) pore over ancient texts and run from one
old statute to another trying to decipher a complex series of clues.
Howard keeps the pace
furious, Hanks makes like
James Bond, and
composer Hans Zimmer
whips the demonic
-sounding choral score
into a deafening frenzy
that tricks you into
believing the movie is
somewhat exciting. You
also get a gigantic
explosion - surely one of
the biggest ever to grace
a film - an occasional
stray eyeball, enough
gore to skirt the edges of
that PG-13 rating and lots
of shots of priests in
blood-red cloaks
gathered in ominous
The result is dizzying enough to make you think you're entertained, although the moment you stop to think about Angels
and Demons for even a second, the movie becomes ridiculous and preposterous enough to be laughed off the screen. A
better approach might be to follow the cue of Hanks, who sticks to the don't-ask-questions-and- do-as-you're-told school
of acting, and just go with the ride. So what if the outcome is so lame that it isn't even worthy of a decent controversy, the
way The Da Vinci Code was? Angels & Demons manages to cover all the major plot points in the book with a few rather
glaring changes that purists may find a tad annoying. Overall Da Vinci was a much better book and movie, A&D gets by
due to faster paced action with almost none of the Sherlock Holmes puzzle solving from Professor Langdon. If you read
and liked the book, if you saw and liked Da Vinci Code - go see Angels and Demons, otherwise you might prefer to give
this one a pass.