Reviews

Angels and Demons

3

Hanks holds the key to the Holy See…

Shorter, tidier and altogether sharper.

But enough on Tom Hanks’ hair; how’s the film? Thankfully similar applies to this Da Vinci Code follow-up, director Ron Howard acting on the lessons he learnt from that bloated 2006 misstep to deliver a kinetic if mechanical thriller that, this time around, doesn’t treat Dan Brown’s source novel as Holy Scripture.

True, writers David Koepp and Akiva Goldsman adhere fairly closely to Brown’s plot, a harum-scarum caper that sees Hanks’ urbane symbologist racing around Rome in search of a) the secret lair of an ancient brotherhood of scientists, b) an assassin offing the four cardinals most likely to be elected Pope and c) a futuristic doomsday weapon capable of levelling the Vatican.

It’s overstuffed tosh, of course – though at least some of the author’s crazier embellishments are jettisoned (the killer, for example, is no longer an Arabian rapist), as is his interminable exploration of the vast CERN physics lab (here reduced to a cameo role).

OK, so maybe the film could have done with less arcane Catholic trivia, delivered with too much earnestness by Ewan McGregor’s Papal deputy and an opening voiceover from Da Vinci alumnus Alfred Molina.

But after a sluggish start, Howard mostly has Tom’s Robert Langdon (who remains a cipher, lacking signs of inner life) and nuclear physicist Ayelet Zurer explain things on the hoof, their expositional dialogue on Galileo, Bernini and the God Particle squeezed between car chases, gunfights and hair’s breadth escapes from burning churches.

By cramming the action into six hectic hours, meanwhile, Howard also avoids Code’s anti-climactic lack of purpose – it’s a surprise to find Angels clocking in only 10 minutes less than its languid predecessor.

Credit’s due to Hans Zimmer’s dynamic score, busy set-pieces on a convincing replica of St Peter’s Square and the odd welcome flash of humour, the latter piercing the overarching sense of pomposity.

And while there is nothing quite so bizarre here as Paul Bettany’s self-flagellating Albino monk, the film does start with something no less unexpected – Hanks doing laps in a pair of crotch-hugging Speedos.

Neil Smith

Verdict:

Atoning for The Da Vinci Code’s cardinal sin – thou shalt not bore – this superior sequel zips along at such a lick you can almost forget the story is utter bollocks. At this rate, The Lost Symbol should be a doozy.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • MikeyRix

      May 7th 2009, 21:54

      Oy, TF, I checked this review yesterday and it was given a 4*...why the de-rating? Did you re-think? Not that I've seen "The Da Vinci Code" and I'm not interested in that or "Angels & Demons" due to the hype, but I thought a rating, once posted is never changed. Just curious...

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    • scabo33

      May 9th 2009, 16:52

      Hmm it dropped a rating........... :)

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    • duncan1964

      May 15th 2009, 13:47

      3

      A prequel in print becomes a sequel on the screen, and Ron Howard is out to silence the critics who lambasted The Da Vinci Code. A plot to kill 4 cardinals and blow up the Vatican becomes a race against time for Tom Hanks as he sightsees around Rome in record time. faster paced than the first film but that just means that all the lengthy exposition is done on the run. Certainly a lot more fun than the first one, but at times it does feel as though you are being forced to sit through a history lesson.

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    • giveital68

      May 16th 2009, 2:24

      i seen it at 1201 and was not as good as the first knew what was goning to happen and the story was bla

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    • giveital68

      May 16th 2009, 2:24

      2

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    • joker16

      May 16th 2009, 21:38

      3

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    • HarryMulholland

      May 18th 2009, 19:13

      3

      Dan Brown's mediocre novels produce mediocre films. This is popcorn fodder nothing more nothing less, it shouldn't be taken seriously and while it does have it's obvious flaws, you must be patient and you must forgive. Like I said this is popcorn fodder and should no be taken seriously.

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    • nolanfan

      May 20th 2009, 23:49

      4

      you critics are so boring ..

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    • thekillingjoke

      May 21st 2009, 17:30

      3

      Nothing unexpected considering the 'prequel' The Da Vinci Code. Not as entertaining as the book though, I missed Maxamillion Kloehr, I was gearing myself up for a Peter Sellers/Dr.Strangelove type character but he did not make an appearance... for shame.

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    • wolfgirl

      Jun 15th 2009, 11:11

      3

      So fast I didn't really notice that the whole thing was a load of tosh, but I liked it while I watched it. It's that thinking-back-on-it feeling that can upset you. Relatively nice plot twists, though. And Tom Hanks is still as cool as ever!

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    • bassthing

      Jun 24th 2009, 9:16

      2

      An average rating for an average film. The problem with this film is that it does exactly what you expect, it entertains on a level that will just about sustain most peoples attention for the running time. There is nothing worthy of note in this film. Tom Hanks runs and spouts long chunks of information, the direction is perfunctory, and the score is by the numbers. The only thing worth mention in the entire film is the cinematography, however, I suspect that Rome is such a beautiful city that my 1 year old nephew could point a camera at the city and it would be beautiful. If the wife hadn’t wanted to see this film I never would have gone, and I would have been right not to. Do not encourage Hollywood to make more of these by the numbers movies by spending your money on Angels and Demons.

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    • Chrisic

      Aug 7th 2009, 11:30

      It seems the curse of the sequel is present within Angels and Demons as Ron Howard fails to seek out the success once emulated in The Da Vinci Code. Everything we loved about Robert Langdon in his first large screen adventure is lost in the vibrant city of Rome as the symbolist rushes from church to church with little time to spare. The biggest disappointment however is the way in which Robert solves these somewhat half baked clues. In all the excitement Hanks is off decoding the next riddle while the audience is still trying to work out how he got past the last one. Its an adrenaline pumped journey, one that doesn't even allow Obi Wan Kenobi to take his action hat off. Most notably Angels and Demons questions the creation of the universe only to leave it behind and ultimately disappoint, which seems to be the word on most lips.

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      Aug 7th 2009, 11:30

      3

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    • 12juri

      Dec 4th 2010, 7:09

      The film Angels and Demons based on the novel impresses, no component of indifferent DENAS

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