Saturday, 25 September 2010

Angels & Demons

Year: 2009
Director: Ron Howard
Screenplay: David Koepp and Akiva Goldsmith, based on the novel by Dan Brown
Starring: Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellan Skarsgard, Pierfrancesco Favino, Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Armin Mueller-Stahl
Running Time: 146 minutes
Genre: Thriller, mystery, adventure

Summary: In the Vatican City, the Pope has just died and the College of Cardinals prepare for the papal conclave to vote a successor. However the four 'preferiti' (the most likely candidates to be elected Pope) are kidnapped before the conclave enters seclusion. Additionally a vial of antimatter is stolen from the Large Hadron Collider at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland. The kidnappers reveal themselves to be members of a secret society known as the Illuminati and threaten to kill one cardinal every hour and at midnight to use the highly explosive antimatter to destroy the Vatican City. The Vatican call in well-known symbologist Robert Langdon (Hanks) and Vittoria Vetra (Zurer) from CERN to solve the Illuminati's coded threats, save the prefereti and find the stolen antimatter.

Opinions: This movie was based on the bestselling novel by Dan Brown first published in 2000. The film is a sequel to the hit 2006 movie The Da Vinci Code, which was also based on a Dan Brown book. Incidentally, although the film is a sequel to the film of The Da Vinci Code, the novel of The Da Vinci Code is a sequel to the Angels & Demons novel. This film provides more running around an exotic location, deciphering ancient codes. It's a fun, slickly made thriller which improves on the film of The Da Vinci Code by tightening up the pace, although as with the earlier film the pace does suffer from the necessity to stop and explain the plot and background, which is much easier done in print than on film. However the short time frame and strong threat mean that the tension is always there. Howard directs with a sure hand and manages to get a lot of mileage out of the Vatican and Rome locations. Tom Hanks puts in his usual solid perfomance, reprising his role from The Da Vinci Code and Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer is engaging as the female lead. Ewan McGregor appears as a Northern Irish priest and doesn't manage to maintain his accent for the whole movie. As with the earlier film, there was some controversy due to the religious elements but the film is neither anti-religious or anti-Catholic. As with the earlier film, while you're watching it you do get the impression that you might be learning something from it but it is improtant not to put too much faith in the film's accuracy in either religious or historical matters.

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