Angels and Demons
Directed by Ron Howard
Starring Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Stellan Skarsgard
Release date: May 15, 2009
Angels and Demons is a direct sequel to The Da Vinci Code and based on the book of the same name (though Dan Brown fans will tell you Angels is actually supposed to be the prequel of The Da Vinci Code).
Angels and Demons brings back symbologist (aka glorified scavenger hunter)Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) on another yet mystery involving Catholicism. On the eve of the latest’s Pope’s death, the four cardinals vying for the Papacy have been kidnapped by a member of a secret organization known as The Illuminati. The assailant promises to kill one cardinal for every hour until midnight when he sets off an anti-matter bomb somewhere in Vatican City. Now, it is a race against time as Langdon searches for the Cardinals and tries desperately to stop the bomb before it kills thousands.
Written by David Koepp (Spider-Man) and Akiva Goldsman, Angels is a fast-paced thrill ride from beginning to end. One part National Treasure, one part Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?, the movie starts off with a murder and never gives you a chance to breathe. Even some of the more dialogue-filled scenes are quick. It is not so much that the lines are delivered quickly, but rather there is so much substance in it, viewers really need to listen to the dialogue, comprehend it, and try to figure out where Langdon will go next. Sure, moviegoers do not have to play along, but how can you resist? The whole movie is a mystery and everyone loves a good mystery.
Hanks reprises his role as Langdon and looks very comfortable in the role. He recites his dialogue quickly and with enough force to give the impression that he knows what he is talking about. Plus, this is Tom Hanks we’re talking about here. Every movie he is in he gives his best possibly performance and this movie is no exception to the rule. The supporting actors, Ewan McGregor and Stellan Skarsgard , are both equally great in their individual roles and more than hold their own in the presence of Hanks, but this movie is really Hanks’ baby.
With a movie that is constantly driven by dialogue and fast-paced scenes, you need a director that can balance both and Ron Howard is certainly the right man for the job. He injects a ton of energy into each shot, whether it is a dialogue driven scene or an action scene. The camera is constantly moving and every shot and special effect has a purpose. There are no slow motion action sequences just for the sake of a slow motion action sequence. Every scene and frame is methodical. Howard is definitely an old school director, with shooting scenes that are simple but are visually impressive. Watch what he does with a simple pair of shoes and you can tell Howard is cut above the rest.
While visually impressive and entertaining, even the prettiest rose has its sharp thorns. Despite all the history infused into the picture, it is still at its core an action film with its share of illogical and impossible occurrences. Men jump out of planes, hitting various buildings on their way down and live to talk about it, and anti-matter bombs exists. Also, while Langdon is the hero of the picture, he hardly acts like one. At the first sight of a gun fight, our main protagonist flees and looks for place to hide. It is a small gripe, but it is odd to see a hero essentially run away from a battle. If you can overlook these small issues, they should have no problems enjoying the film.
Angels and Demons is a well written, well-directed brainy action movie. Fans of Hanks or of the Dan Brown books will be more than pleased with this adaptation of the book. Let the Angels guide you to this film and you will be happy with the result.