THE ROBERT LANGDON MOVIE REVIEW: “Angels & Demons” stars Tom Hanks (Cast Away, Captain Phillips), Ewan McGregor (Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith, Trainspotting), Ayelet Zurer (Man of Steel, Vantage Point), Stellan Skarsgard (The Avengers, Good Will Hunting), Pierfrancesco Favino (World War Z, Rush), Nikolaj Lie Kaas (Department Q: The Keeper of Lost Causes, Brothers), Armin Mueller-Stahl (Eastern Promises, Shine), Thure Lindhardt (Flame & Citron, Angels in Fast Motion), and David Pasquesi (Veep [TV series], Groundhog Day). It was directed by Ron Howard (The Dilemma, Frost/Nixon), while the screenplay was written by David Koepp (Jurassic Park, Mission: Impossible ) and Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind, Batman & Robin). Dr. Robert Langdon (Hanks) travels to Rome after being assigned a mission involving four missing Cardinals in line for the papacy and the Illuminati.
Think “24,” but with less time and concerning the Illuminati… Regardless of this being based on a book, that sounds like the perfect pitch when trying to sell this film to producers. “Angels & Demons,” the follow-up to the somewhat success of “The Da Vinci Code,” continues the adventures of Robert Langdon, without his solid cast from the previous feature. Here, he travels to Rome, where he has to track down kidnapped Catholic Cardinals before the Illuminati fulfills their plans. It’s a story that isn’t quite as methodical as “The Da Vinci Code,” but quite certainly more action-packed. I never expected it to be better; heck, judging by the reviews, I thought I was walking into another sub-par feature, filled with blasphemies for narrative sake. What I received, however, was a more graceful picture. Whereas the first film focused on Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene (touchy issues), this one placed its cards on the Catholic Church and the myth that is the Illuminati. By far a more loose and off-the-cuff movie, “Angels & Demons” tries to continue its rounds of puzzle-solving, but with a more strict schedule and gruesome consequences. In any sequel, filmmakers try to go bigger and badder, and this film is no exception. I was disjointed and a bit upset viewing “The Da Vinci Code” for obvious reasons, but in watching “Angels & Demons” I was far more entertained and lax. The funny thing is, it all has to do with one thing: a relaxed, self-aware story. I wouldn’t regard this movie as top-tier filmmaking, albeit Ron Howard’s directing, the fantastic score, and the overall size of this project. However, I don’t think this film believes so either, and I’m glad they didn’t. There is so many ludicrous things that take place in this release, from Robert Langdon being given unlimited access by police forces without question to the end of a civilization happening with a burst of light. Sure, the conflict is contained within a box and without breaking its own rules, but it’s these rules that make for a frivolous experience; one that I admittedly enjoyed. Howard knows how to make a fun film. He’s done it before, and I was thoroughly engaged with “Angels & Demons” for that very reason. It’s a popcorn flick with smart talk on religion and the church that tries to control it; though the historical aspect of this may be mumbo jumbo, it’s still intriguing to see how it flows throughout the plot nonetheless. The action can get crazy and the stakes are raised to such a high level that, when paired with Zimmer’s illustrious score, I’m on the edge of my seat. Sure, there were predictable moments (those of which I won’t go into detail over), but overall I enjoyed my experience. Tom Hanks did a respectable job, as did his acting peers. It was nice to see Ewan McGregor, who hardly ever disappoints, as well as some new faces I haven’t seen in a film before. The cinematography, as I have mentioned, is good. I loved the shots as well as the locations, more so than I did “The Da Vinci Code.” Rome is a fantastic city to film at, as history just oozes from all corners of the streets; it fit nicely with the tones this series strives towards. As for the musical score, who can complain? When you get the chance, look it up because it’ll make you feel epic at the right moments. Zimmer is the man, there is no question about it. I guess what it really comes down to in this movie is whether or not you want a feature of substance. “The Da Vinci Code,” while heavily controversial (though it was fictional) relied on its clues and case-study, whereas “Angels & Demons” swayed more towards the action side. Of course, there is puzzle solving involved, but it’s far less “knowledgeable” or concrete. It was more about the chase than it was about the moment, which is why I consider it to be a popcorn feature. There’s no shame in it, as it serves its purpose to excite rather to indulge. As I mentioned before, the film was more graceful than its predecessor. I had a heck of a lot more fun watching this, and was even tense seeing it all play out. If you are looking for action with a hint of history (whether inaccurate or not) and puzzles, than I’m sure you’d get a kick out of this. Moving forward, as a side note, the real issue I see reoccurring in the this franchise is the character development, which I hope isn’t a problem again. While we received some backstory into Robert Langdon’s life in the previous outing, the character sorely isn’t given much light outside of his job. It’s all about the race, and while we didn’t receive odd injections of character background (like the well incident in Langdon’s life), the stakes would be even higher if I cared about the characters more. Improve on that as well as the overall meat of the picture itself (with a bit more of a balance between indulgence and thrills), and “Angels & Demons” would’ve surely been a better adventure. FINAL SCORE: 79%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: