(2009)3Cammila CollarAfter Ron Howard's 2006 adaptation of the hysterically popular beach-read The Da Vinci Code turned out to be disappointingly stuffy at best (especially for a book so tawdry and fun that it should have been a movie in the first place), you'd think he would have learned his lesson. Sadly, 2009's Angels & Demons isn't executed with any more attention to excitement than its predecessor -- though it does include more cheap thrills in general, simply by virtue of the script (based on a Da Vinci Code prequel) having more awesomely ridiculous plot points to draw on.
It's not strongly specified where the story's timeline exists relative to the first movie, but it stars the same hero, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks), whose unparalleled knowledge of Christian history and lore is once again called upon to solve a mystery. The pope has just died, and the papal conclave is holing up in the Sistine Chapel to elect a new pontiff. Unfortunately, this is just the moment that the secret society The Illuminati decides to resurface, kidnap the top four cardinals up for the job, steal a canister of antimatter from the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, and set up a Batman-villain-esque series of clues about the whole plan for authorities. As Langdon and his hot physicist compatriot, Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer), decipher each clue, they're sent to various highly relevant historical locations around Vatican City in search of a different captured clergyman, racing to find each one before he's elaborately murdered, and hoping to retrieve the stolen container, which will blow up like a mini nuclear bomb if they don't track it down before midnight.
The plot is also colored with lots of fun facts (and pseudo-facts) about Christian history and symbolism, just like in The Da Vinci Code. There are also many of the same twists and turns: the film has almost too many characters, each turning up to create more intrigue, each turning out to have a different interest at stake, and each usually faking you out once or twice with so many turns and double-turns that it's easy to stop caring.
Of course, you might not care anyway. Despite an even wilder plot than the first movie, Angels & Demons suffers from the same stilted, overly serious tone. Even when truly insane things are happening -- anti-matter bombs, human branding, priests piloting helicopters -- the narrative is still dry and stodgy. Howard's style as a director has always been pretty earnest, and maybe he was hoping to compensate for the over-the-top material already present in the script by employing an even more modest touch to his work than usual. Whatever his reasons for keeping things so stale, it was a bad choice, but lucky for viewers, some stories are just too crazy for even the dullest storytelling to completely ruin the fun.
Angels and Demons re-teams director Ron Howard and star Tom Hanks for the sequel to their international blockbuster adaptation of Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code. Although the book Angels and Demons was written before the novel The Da Vinci Code, the movie transpires after the events of the earlier movie. Hanks stars as professor Robert Langdon, the most respected symbologist in the United States, who uses his knowledge in order to decode a symbol on the skin of a murder victim. The clues put him on the trail of an international conspiracy involving the Catholic Church. Ewan McGregor and Ayelet Zurer also star in the Sony Pictures production.