Vail movie review: Angels & Demons disappoints |

Vail movie review: Angels & Demons disappoints

Vail DailyVail, CO Colorado
Tom Hanks stars in the film Angels & Demons, which is based on the book by Dan Brown.

1.5 stars of 4VAIL, Colorado Some novels are best left to the printed page no matter how interesting or fun to read they are. Case in point: Dan Browns Angels & Demons. Though it probably couldnt have been brought to the big screen any more competently, seeing it squished into the parameters of cinema took all the mystery and believability out of the book and once thats gone theres really no where else to go.The film, like the book, centers on world-renown symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) who is called in by the Vatican to help solve a mystery so complex, sinister and secret that nobody but the church even knows about it.Still reeling from the loss of their pope, the College of Cardinals is about to go into conclave to elect a new church leader when a bomb made of antimatter is discovered in a mysterious, unfindable location somewhere on Vatican property thanks to a remote video camera transmission. Meanwhile, four of the top candidates for popehood have been kidnapped and will be murdered one at a time every hour until the bomb goes off and destroys Vatican city, crippling the church for good. A fax has been sent to the Vatican police, and it alludes to the resurrection of an ancient church enemy, the Illuminati. You see, centuries ago church leaders tried to suppress scientifically-minded church members like Galileo from overturning defunct church teachings such as the sun revolving around the Earth and even went as far as to kill certain members to silence them. This violence and ignorance supposedly bred the Illuminati, who wanted nothing more than to teach proper doctrine while still worshipping God. And now theyre back to seek revenge for what the church once did to their members. Caught in the middle of a blood feud neither wants a part of, Langdon and the scientist who accidentally help create the antimatter bomb in the first place, Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer), must follow a trail of hidden clues imbedded in ancient texts and symbols hidden in ancient architecture to find the Cardinals and the bomb before its too late.Angels & Demons is full of all the stuff that makes a good thriller: Murder, betrayal, car chases, shadowy religious figures and an even shadowier secret society. Its themes of religion vs. science and the role they both play in the world is also very intriguing. The problem lies in the execution. When I read the novel it kept me turning the page with rabid hunger but once I saw the film it all felt so very unbelievable. The way Langdon and his associates solve the clues so quickly and seem to be able to get from one place to the next in a matter of seconds, even in a city as complex as Vatican City, with its underground labyrinths and stacked topography, is almost laughable when witnessed, and the films climax seemed absurd when it unfolded.In its defense, Angels & Demons is loaded from front to back with non-stop action but something tells me it was more to keep the audience from realizing how little depth the picture actually contained. At times I found myself more entranced by the scenery of the film than the stilted dialogue and flat characters. It certainly wont make you feel like you spent two and a half hours in hell, but its far from heaven. Charlie Owen

1 star out of 4Its easy to see why The Da Vinci Code stole the bestseller and blockbuster charts as Dan Browns most outstanding and successful work and why the cinematic version of its prequel, Angels and Demons was presented later, after fame and credibility had taken hold. As far as a story goes, Angels and Demons is clearly the rough draft for Da Vinci Code, formulating the divisive plot twists and gimmicks that were refined and interesting by the time Da Vinci Code came together. They lack continuity, strength and direction in Angels and Demons. And as for a story that can stand alone as a movie, director Ron Howard stacks up the characters, the suspense and the action of this already weak framework but fails to ignite the shell with any real force. Its hard to say who is to blame for the mediocrity of this movie, but it might just be that those of us who have read The Da Vinci Code and not Angels and Demons were hoping for something a little less um, identical. That said, those faithful readers familiar with the more intricate plot behind Angels and Demons, the background for which was unnaturally delivered through character dialogue in the movie, seemed to think it wasnt too bad. For some of us not savvy, however, listening to characters break the ice discussing their research splitting atoms or the tenuousness of their agnostic way of life felt a little contrived. Angels and Demons begins with our favorite professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) once again (see The Da Vinci Code) beckoned to Europe because his brains are needed to decipher some convoluted crime a murder involving a secret society that is threatening to destroy Vatican City with a powerful stolen vial of carefully collected antimatter. Theres also a bad guy who will succinctly kill off each one of the cardinals in line for the papacy, which has recently become vacated. Langdon and his beautiful sidekick are on the case (see Da Vinci Code, except this time its the murdered physicists daughter played by the striking – and selectively multilingual – Ayelet Zurer). They breathlessly discuss the antimatter ticking away in its dying battery-controlled container. We are told that the ensuing explosion will do cataclysmic damage once the battery dies. In most definitions, a cataclysm is an event causing mass destruction that can shake the earths core, but in Angels and Demons, it amounts to a few folks getting tossed dramatically into ancient Roman pillars, then blinking up at a helicopter that saves the day. On top of that, weve got what would be an eyebrow-raising case (if we hadnt exactly already seen the exact same thing in The Da Vinci Code) of an unassuming traitor (Oh hes the bad guy!) and a few too many pentagram map codes.Its all just a little hokey … and not that easy to follow. But it reveals enough interesting underpinnings of sacrilege and science that you might want to see it anyway. Or at least read the book. Shauna Farnell

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