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Angels & Demons

The fact that I wanted to see this movie is rather surprising.  I very much enjoyed the book (it’s nearly as entertaining as The Da Vinci Code), and the previous film was…not the best.  But early reports were positive, and I was hoping Ron Howard could learn from his mistakes.  I’m happy to say that he did just that.  Believe me – it’s not a really great movie.  But it’s significantly better as an adaptation and certainly an improvement on the first film.

photo courtesy WireImage.com

photo courtesy WireImage.com

This time around in what is really a prequel to The Da Vinci Code (although the film makes it vaguely appear to be a sequel), Professor Langdon (Tom Hanks) is rushed off to the Vatican City to investigate the supposed return of the Illumanti.  Can he solve an ancient mystery before several cardinals are murdered after the unexpected death of the Pope?  And will it be in time before an antimatter bomb destroys everything in sight?  (I know it’s pretty far-fetched, but in the book it works.)  He is joined by another smart foreign hottie (Ayelet Zurer) and is spurred on by the Pope’s assistant (Ewan McGregor).

The biggest improvement in this installment is the pacing.  Although it starts a bit slower than action lovers would want, it does pick up significantly and reaches breathtaking speed in the second act.  The script also does a better job at quickly trying to inform the audience about the ancient history that Langdon studies.  It’s been simplified in the adaptation process, but the nuggets are there to appreciate.

Angels & Demons - a better adaptation

The acting is decent, but the strongest performance comes from McGregor.  His earnest protestations and speeches are almost believable.  The settings are also dark and beautifully drawn considering the production crew wasn’t allowed to film at the Vatican.

My biggest complaint?  The overly long denoument – it’s a part of the book that sweeps by at a brisk pace, but is drawn out for an extended red herring in the film.  All I will say is, don’t believe it’s over until the Pope is annointed.  My grade for this film – B+.

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