Angels and Demons

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Although the Dan Brown novel was written before The Da Vinci Code, the screen adaptation of it (directed again by Ron Howard) takes care to situate itself afterwards with a reference or two to the returning hero’s “recent involvement with, shall we say, Church mysteries” and his consequent strained relations with the Vatican: a sequel, not a prequel. Which one came first scarcely matters. It’s just another day in the life of a Harvard symbologist (Tom Hanks again, with a hair trim), spearheading, by virtue of his scholarly tome on the secret society of the Illuminati, a beat-the-clock investigation into the kidnap of four cardinals in line for the vacant papacy, the one-by-one, hour-by-hour murder of them in spectacular fashion in far-flung corners of Rome, and, for the pièce de résistance, the scheduled midnight demolition of Vatican City. Sportingly, the mastermind behind this diabolical plan has thought to provide cryptic clues to the Path of Illumination, leading from murder site to murder site to bomb site. Perhaps the built-in benefit of its earlier position in the bibliography of Dan Brown is that the plot can’t top The Da Vinci Code in nonsensicality and grandiosity. To cancel that, it does try. And try and try. With Ayelet Zurer, Ewan McGregor, Stellan Skarsgard, Armin Mueller-Stahl. (2009) — Duncan Shepherd

Rated PG-13 | 2 hours, 20 minutes
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Angels & Demons is a must see if you enjoy actual thinking while watching a movie. The things I enjoy in Dan Brown's novels and their eventual move to the silver screen are the historical aspects. In Angels & Demons Brown goes inside a world steeped in sacred tradition and ritual; the Vatican. The movie starts with the death of a Pope and the action takes place amidst the selection of his replacement. The selection of the new Pope takes place during what is called Conclave and the Cardinals are literally sealed inside a room where they vote for their selection; typically from one of the Preferiti(the front runners of sorts). In this story, the Preferiti are kidnapped and the race is on around Rome to find them before they are all killed and a bomb goes off that has the ability to level not only the Vatican, but most of Rome as well. The search is headed by Tom Hank's character who takes us on a tour of the Pantheon and other historical Catholic churches throughout Rome. This has a "who dunnit?" theme of course as you try and figure out who is responsible. With the mystique and solemnity that surrounds the Vatican...the film's depiction of the Sistine Chapel makes you feel as though you are getting the opportunity to experience something extraordinary. What really amazed me was the level of technology associated with the preservation of such archaic documents and items. Considering the fact the Vatican has been in existence since the 14th century, the notion that today there are oxygen controlled areas of the archives monitored by such a sophisticated computer system is an awesome dichotomy. Angels & Demons will not disappoint moviegoers who like a mind challenge.

May 17, 2009

A satisfying and exciting sequel to the original. Angels and Demons had a much brisker pace than the Da Vinci Code with plenty of action sequences and tense situations. The storyline was a bit weaker than the first movie however and there were a few questionable plot points. The movie takes place over just a 24 hour period of time and there is a lot of racing from Roman church to another. This movie was more graphic than the first but it was a necessary element that needed to be added to heighten the tension. Although this was not shot at the Vatican, the visual effects and CGI was excellent in that you felt like the characters were actually walking through St. Peter’s Square and the Sistine Chapel. The musical score by Hans Zimmer was important element to the movie and the string solos were outstanding. The ending was unexpected and will leave most viewer a bit shocked. Definitely worth the trip to the theater.

May 19, 2009

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