Anthony's Film Review
Angels and Demons (2009)
Unexpectedly, the cinematic sequel to The Da Vinci Code delivers a very suspenseful ride...
Dan Brown didn't just write the phenomenal bestselling novel The Da Vinci Code. He also wrote Angels and Demons, another novel featuring a fictional academic symbologist named Robert Langdon. In fact, Angels and Demons is the first Langdon novel and The Da Vinci Code is the second. The only reason director Ron Howard brought The Da Vinci Code to the big screen first was because the second Langdon novel captivated the world more than its predecessor. With subsequent box office success of The Da Vinci Code in 2006, it was a sure thing for Howard to bring Angels and Demons to the big screen. It has been written as a sequel to The Da Vinci Code, not a prequel as with the books. But that's not important. You can watch these two movies in either order.
I shall begin my review of Angels and Demons with this bottom-line statement: It's better than The Da Vinci Code. Whereas Da Vinci is a scramble to uncover a religious secret before conspirators stop the protagonists, Angels is a crime thriller where the heroes race against time to decipher clues before a series of horrible crimes takes place. The premise of Angels intrigued me much more than that of Da Vinci, though there's nothing wrong with the latter. I also went into the movie with no idea what to expect. In the end, I really enjoyed what I saw.
The movie begins with a nice setup that gets to the point without wasting time. There are shots of the Vatican as a crowd gathers at St. Peter's Square to witness the selection of a new Pope. This is followed by a scene at a research laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland, that attempts to create antimatter. This part introduces the main character of physicist Vittoria Vetra, played by Ayelet Zurer. Then we see Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon as he is called to assist the Vatican police with a serious matter.
Langdon learns about a plot to kill four cardinals and blow up the Vatican using the antimatter, which was stolen from the laboratory in Geneva. It is believed that an old secret society called the Illuminati is behind the scheme. According to Langdon, the Illuminati were a group of proponents of science who were against religion such that they were persecuted by the Catholic Church. If the Illuminati are behind the murder plot, then their motive makes perfect sense. This part of the movie also introduces a few other characters who play important roles, including Stellan Skarsgard as Commander Richter of the Swiss Guard and Ewan McGregor as the priest Camerlengo Patrick McKenna.
From there, the movie cuts to the chase. Langdon and the police rush to prevent each of the crimes to be committed. To do so, Langdon has to interpret the historical clues available and consult the Vatican archives. It is true that the intellectual discussion is a pause that alternates with the movement of a physical chase. But believe it or not, I didn't feel that the pacing was uneven. I actually thought it was a smooth ride throughout. In addition, there are good twists along the way, including the last one that I thought was great.
Alongside the suspense is the thought-provoking thought of the movie. It centers on the never-ending conflict of religion versus science. At one point, one character asks if the two are opposites or just different ways of looking at the same thing. Along with this is the film's portrayal of the Catholic Church. In my opinion, it seems to be honest, showing both its good side and its corrupt side.
Regardless of any opinions that disagree with mine, I was amazed by Angels and Demons. It does what a good thriller should do: create high tension at every second. It was definitely worth the price of admission. I don't know if Dan Brown has any further ideas for Robert Langdon mysteries, but if he does, then I can trust Ron Howard to bring it to the silver screen. And do it well as he has done with Angels and Demons.
For more information about Angels and Demons, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my review of The Da Vinci Code and Inferno.