Title: Angels and Demons
Starring: Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer
Director: Ron Howard
Written by: David Koepp and Akiva Goldsman; adapted from the novel by Dan Brown
Released: Columbia Pictures (2009)
I've never read a Dan Brown novel and I don't have plans to start. I watched The Da Vinci Code a couple years ago and thought it was okay--seriously over-hyped, but okay. I guess Dan Brown and Ron Howard can thank the Catholic League and other Christian protesters for turning the Robert Langdon adventures into must-read books and must-see films. Otherwise, it'd be treated as pretty average stuff.
And I think average is an apt description once you strip away the veneer of controversy. Angels & Demons, in particular, is your basic run-and-gun style of movie. There's a bomb hidden somewhere in the Vatican and it's up to Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) to find it before it's too late. Throw in four kidnapped cardinals and you've got yourself an action movie.
While Da Vinci Code got its notoriety on the whole Jesus-made-a-baby thing, thus whipping up accusations of heresy, Angels & Demons steers pretty clear of that. Oh, there's a little bit of creative license taken with the inner workings of the Vatican, but it's hardly enough to constitute boycotts and the like. Langdon spends far too much time explaining the plot while either running or riding shotgun in a car chase to bother blaspheming against the Catholic Church.
It's kind of funny to read the blurb on the back of the DVD case: "The twist at the end will blow your mind!" - Larry King.
Bear in mind that it's Larry King--seedless grapes probably earned equivalent praise from that jabbering geriatric. The so-called twist was foreshadowed quite plainly, as near as I could tell. I won't be joining Mensa anytime soon, but I called the ending with about a half-hour to spare. I'm sure many others figured it out sooner than me.
Okay, it's Ron Howard directing, so you expect a lot of attention paid towards the aesthetics and design. Done. It's a gorgeous movie and it's easy to get swept up in the action. And it's Tom Hanks in the lead role, so at least you're not having to endure the plainly bad acting of some assembly-line leading man. There's shouting and gunfire and fast cars and explosions and plenty of those "Mother of God!" moments--and a couple of death scenes that would get a tip of the hat from Jigsaw.
But in the grand scheme of things, Angels & Demons didn't sway this cynic. It's a good movie, but it's not a great one.