May 15, 2009 Angels & Demons
Studio: Columbia Pictures Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence, disturbing images and thematic material.
In the literary prequel turned on-screen sequel to the blockbuster movie, "The Da Vinci Code," Tom Hanks once again portrays Harvard professor Robert Langdon in "Angels & Demons."
Although he's obviously not on the Vatican's Christmas card list because of his previous adventure, Langdon finds himself being asked by the Catholic church to solve a life or death mystery.
Soon, Langdon is in Rome, trying to stop four gruesome murders, save the city from a terrible fate and protect the church from the vengeful secret society called "The Illuminati." To do all that he must decipher centuries-old clues and follow a path that could lead to his own death.
Unlike its very talky predecessor, "Angels & Demons" is filled with action. But it's kind of like a paint-by-numbers kit. Langdon studies the clues. Langdon figures something out. Langdon only has a few minutes or another Roman Catholic Cardinal dies.
That goes on for a while and although it's a little repetitious it is at least somewhat interesting. However, it is in the final half hour of the movie where big problems really develop.
Even as far-fetched as secret organizations with centuries-old agendas are, that part of the story is realistic compared to what happens as we move toward the finale.
I understand the concept of suspending disbelief. But director Ron Howard pushes way too hard here. To his defense, the source material didn't give him much wiggle room. But what we end up with are scenes where you go, "Huh?" And that's after watching an hour and a half of conspiracy theories and crimes involving anti-matter. Yes, anti-matter! And the starship Enterprise is nowhere to be found.
For people who like their mysteries served up with huge doses of coincidence and good fortune there are moments here to be enjoyed. Also on the plus side is Hanks. He is one of our generation's best actors and delivers another good performance here. Additionally, there is excellent work here from the the supporting cast which includes Ewan McGregor and Stellan Skarsgard. The photography is top notch and the settings are beautiful and place you right in the middle of the action.
However, there are just way too many moments which leave you shaking your head for this to be a truly excellent movie.
On my rating scale, "Angels & Demons" earns a DOUBLE.
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