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Angels and Demons and Hanks, Oh My!

Teen Critic Weighs in on the Sequel to The Da Vinci Code

Above: Tom Hanks stars in Angels and Demons

Okay, before starting this review, I feel I must face the music and admit that I…I liked The Da Vinci Code. Wait; before you stop reading, just hear my side of the story. See, unlike millions of people around the world, I had no idea what the story was about. I knew it was controversial and had something to do with the titular Renaissance master, but that was all; so, when the events played out, well, darned if I’m not a sucker for a good theological conspiracy theory. I’m just fascinated with stuff like the Holy Grail and the Crusades and secret Church activities; thus, I was able to look beyond the flaws of the film: the blaring Hans Zimmer score, the cheesy effects, the bad acting, the hair. So, coming into Angels and Demons, I found myself maybe the only person not expecting this movie to fall flat on its face. That said, when all was said and done, how did this Robert Langdon thriller fare for me? The answer is…meh. Once again, allow me to explain.

Ewan McGregor stars in Angels and Demons

Sony Pictures

Above: Ewan McGregor stars in Angels and Demons

This film, based on the Dan Brown novel of the same name (which is technically set before Da Vinci, but we’ll let that slide), follows everybody’s favorite symbologist-turned-action hero Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks), who finds himself at the call of the Vatican police when they are faced with a terrorist threat. Opening on the aftermath of the death of the current Pope, distinguished for being more “progressive” than others before him, and moves on to show the theft of a canister containing the potentially destructive material known as anti-matter from the Super Collider in Sweden. As is obvious, these two events have something to do with one another, but who is behind the conspiracy to destroy Vatican City and may even be responsible for poisoning the Pope himself? Well, all clues point to the resurgence of the Illuminati, an underground sect of scientists persecuted by the church thought to have b een extinct centuries ago. And it just so happens that Langdon is an expert on the Illuminati, resulting in him and Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer), a scientist who works at the Super Collider, joining in the hunt to track down the location of the canister, which will cause massive damage to the Vatican in only hours.

Angels and Demons (rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, disturbing images and thematic material) does feature some impressive locations, a few truly suspenseful sequences, and a solid cast featuring Stellan Skarsgaard as the leader of the Papal security known as the Swiss Guard and Ewan McGregor as the Camerlango, a young priest who was close to the recently deceased Pope. However, the film just falls flat because there’s very little that this story has to offer. As the plot unfolds, the audience is treated to a host of “did-you-know?” historical facts and a constant debate between the nature of science and religion. Apart from these occasionally gripping and thought-provoking moments, the story quickly begins to come to a conclusion, and all I can say to describe it is, anticlimactic. And with a story that fails to excite one beyond the means of a rudimentary thriller, the film’s greater flaws become blaringly obvious, like the aforementioned score, the poor pacing, as well as the lack of energy brought by the cast, the script, and by director Ron Howard, who at this point, are just going through the motions.

--Michael Shymon is a senior at The Bishop's School. He has had an avid passion for film since he was about 5. He enjoys acting, writing, watching movies, as well as making his own films. His favorite movies include 2001: A Space Odyssey, American Beauty, Pulp Fiction, Star Wars/The Empire Strikes Back, Taxi Driver, Jaws, City Lights, and South Park. He will be attending NYU Tisch Film School next year and hopes that all this movie watching will one day pay off.

Comments

Avatar for user 'MattthewCScallon'

MattthewCScallon | May 21, 2009 at 4 p.m. ― 5 years, 5 months ago

As the plot unfolds, the audience is treated to a host of “did-you-know?” historical facts and a constant debate between the nature of science and religion.

And, much like the sequel/prequel, if it treated history more respectfully, this movie could just pass as an enjoyable. But, when real historic events and people are used in fiction, and fictional events are treated as fact, then it's no longer a fiction. It's a lie.

For one thing, Galileo could never have been a member of the Illuminati because the Illuminati started in 1776, a century after Galileo died. And, while the Vatican has apologized for the house arrest they subjected Galileo to, there is no evidence --and I mean no evidence-- of the Catholic Church persecuting any member of the Illuminati.

As to the accusation that the big bad Catholic Church suppresses science, such distinguished scientists as Ampere, Galvani, and Mendel offer up an argument to the contrary.

Again, if only the movie was prefessed with the disclaimer that everything in the movie is fiction --including its characterization of the Catholic Church-- the movie could stand on its own. But, then again, where would the publicity come from?

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