Angels & Demons (2009)

PG-13   |    |  Action, Mystery, Thriller


Angels & Demons (2009) Poster

Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon works with a nuclear physicist to solve a murder and prevent a terrorist act against the Vatican during one of the significant events within the church.


6.7/10
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9 May 2009 | DICK STEEL
7
| A Nutshell Review: Angels & Demons
Tom Hanks returns as Dan Brown's symbologist Robert Langdon in his first adventure Angels & Demons, which Hollywood decided to make after The Da Vinci Code, given the latter's more controversial subject striking a raw nerve on the faith itself. The Catholic Church was up in arms over the first film, but seemingly nonchalant about this one. And it's not hard to see why, considering Ron Howard had opted to do a flat-out action piece that serves as a great tourism video of Rome and Vatican City, and would probably boost visitor numbers given the many beautiful on-location scenes, save for St Peter's Square and Basilica which was a scaled model used.

So I guess with the bulk of the budget going toward the sets, the ensemble cast had to be correspondingly scaled down. Ayelet Zurer tried to step into the female void left by Audrey Tautou, but given Tautou's character then having a lot more stake in the film, Zurer's scientist Vittoria had a lot less to do other than just waiting in the wings to change some batteries on a canister filled with anti-matter. In the book she's the fodder of course for Langdon to converse his vast knowledge of the Vatican, the Illuminati and the great feud between the two, but here she's neither love interest, nor his intellectual equal.

Ewan McGregor on the other hand, chews up each scene he's in as Camerlengo Patrick McKenna, who is temporarily taking care of the Papal office while the other prominent cardinals are in the Sistine Chapel to elect a new Pope. And he plays Patrick with that glint in the eye, with nuances enough to let you know there's more than meets the eye. There's no surprises here for readers of the novel, but McGregor's performance here is one of the highlights of the film as Hanks plays well, Tom Hanks.

The book itself is rich with arguably accurate content as always, and had a lot more plot points on science versus religion, and a wealth of information that Dan Brown researched and linked together in an engaging fictional piece of work. While reading the book some years ago, I thought that should a film be made of it, it's easy to lapse and dwell more on the set action pieces. Sadly, that's what this Ron Howard film did, with a pace that doesn't allow a temporary breather. Unlike the first film where you had the characters sit down for some "discussion time" over a cup of tea, this one moved things along so quickly, it's like reading the book all over again, page after page being skipped just to get to the thick of the action.

Catholic reviewers have called Angels & Demons harmless, because I guess it didn't dwell on its many controversies, unlike The Da Vinci Code which struck a raw nerve at the centre of the faith. And if anything, this film served as a great tourism promotional video with a nice showcase of the many prominent touristy landmarks that would entice many around the world to go pay a visit. Naturally certain areas like the catacombs beneath St Peter's Basilica, and the Vatican archives remain out of bounds, but the walk along the Path of Illumination, now that's almost free.

Nothing new for those who have read the book other than to see it come alive, but for those who haven't, this film may just compel you to pick up Dan Brown's novel just to read a bit more about the significance about the landmarks, and characters such as Galileo, Michelangelo and Bernini who are intricately linked to the plot, but much left unsaid. Satisfying pop-corn entertainment leaving you with nothing spectacular.

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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the novel, Professor Langdon is flown directly to Switzerland by the CERN director, Maximilian Krohler. He later flies to the Vatican that is, at the beginning, unaware of the danger. In the film, Langdon is flown directly to Rome by Vatican officials. The changes were made to differentiate the plot, as Krohler is very similar, in its apparent almighty reach and connections, the Master from The Da Vinci Code and The Provost from Inferno.


Quotes

Narrator: The Ring of the Fisherman, which bears the official papal seal, must be destroyed immediately following the Pope's death. The papal apartment is then sealed for nine days of mourning, a period known as "Sede Vacante", the time of the empty throne.


Goofs

(at around 1h 6 mins) The Camerlengo refers to having grown up as a Catholic in "Ulster". Ulster is a province which spans both Northern Ireland (six counties) and the Republic of Ireland (3 counties). While its true many unionists (primarily Protestants) refer to Northern Ireland as Ulster, most Catholics local to Ulster would refer to Northern Ireland as the "North of Ireland", particularly the very religious ones. It is likely from his description that the Camerlengo was born in a county of Ulster located within the Republic of Ireland.


Crazy Credits

At the very beginning, when the Columbia girl is standing holding aloft the torch, it flickers like the anti-matter.


Alternate Versions

The Australian 2-disc DVD release is an Extended Version with a running time (PAL format) of 140:17


Soundtracks

Gregorian Chant: Requiem Aeternam-Introitus (VI)
from "Liturgia Defunctorum, Missae Pro Defunctis"
Traditional
Performed by Schola of the Hofburgkapelle, Vienna
Hubert Dopf S.J.
Courtesy of Decca Music Group Limited
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises

Storyline

Plot Summary


Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Genres

Action | Mystery | Thriller

Details

Release Date:

15 May 2009

Language

English, Italian, Latin, French, Swiss German, German, Chinese, Spanish, Polish


Country of Origin

USA, Italy

Filming Locations

Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA

Box Office

Budget:

$150,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$46,204,168 17 May 2009

Gross USA:

$133,375,846

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$485,930,816

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