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Tom Hanks returns as Dan Brown's symbologist Robert Langdon in his
first adventure Angels & Demons, which Hollywood decided to make after
The Da Vinci Code, given the latter's more controversial subject
striking a raw nerve on the faith itself. The Catholic Church was up in
arms over the first film, but seemingly nonchalant about this one. And
it's not hard to see why, considering Ron Howard had opted to do a
flat-out action piece that serves as a great tourism video of Rome and
Vatican City, and would probably boost visitor numbers given the many
beautiful on-location scenes, save for St Peter's Square and Basilica
which was a scaled model used.
So I guess with the bulk of the budget going toward the sets, the
ensemble cast had to be correspondingly scaled down. Ayelet Zurer tried
to step into the female void left by Audrey Tautou, but given Tautou's
character then having a lot more stake in the film, Zurer's scientist
Vittoria had a lot less to do other than just waiting in the wings to
change some batteries on a canister filled with anti-matter. In the
book she's the fodder of course for Langdon to converse his vast
knowledge of the Vatican, the Illuminati and the great feud between the
two, but here she's neither love interest, nor his intellectual equal.
Ewan McGregor on the other hand, chews up each scene he's in as
Camerlengo Patrick McKenna, who is temporarily taking care of the Papal
office while the other prominent cardinals are in the Sistine Chapel to
elect a new Pope. And he plays Patrick with that glint in the eye, with
nuances enough to let you know there's more than meets the eye. There's
no surprises here for readers of the novel, but McGregor's performance
here is one of the highlights of the film as Hanks plays well, Tom
The book itself is rich with arguably accurate content as always, and
had a lot more plot points on science versus religion, and a wealth of
information that Dan Brown researched and linked together in an
engaging fictional piece of work. While reading the book some years
ago, I thought that should a film be made of it, it's easy to lapse and
dwell more on the set action pieces. Sadly, that's what this Ron Howard
film did, with a pace that doesn't allow a temporary breather. Unlike
the first film where you had the characters sit down for some
"discussion time" over a cup of tea, this one moved things along so
quickly, it's like reading the book all over again, page after page
being skipped just to get to the thick of the action.
Catholic reviewers have called Angels & Demons harmless, because I
guess it didn't dwell on its many controversies, unlike The Da Vinci
Code which struck a raw nerve at the centre of the faith. And if
anything, this film served as a great tourism promotional video with a
nice showcase of the many prominent touristy landmarks that would
entice many around the world to go pay a visit. Naturally certain areas
like the catacombs beneath St Peter's Basilica, and the Vatican
archives remain out of bounds, but the walk along the Path of
Illumination, now that's almost free.
Nothing new for those who have read the book other than to see it come
alive, but for those who haven't, this film may just compel you to pick
up Dan Brown's novel just to read a bit more about the significance
about the landmarks, and characters such as Galileo, Michelangelo and
Bernini who are intricately linked to the plot, but much left unsaid.
Satisfying pop-corn entertainment leaving you with nothing spectacular.
Tags for Angels and Demons Full Movie
, Ewan McGregor
, Stellan Skarsgård
, Tom Hanks
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