Directed by: Ron Howard
Premise: A follow up to 2006’s The Da Vinci Code. In this film, symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) works with Vatican officials to try and prevent a terrorist attack by an ancient secret society with a grudge against the church.
What Works: Overall, Angels and Demons is a much better film than The Da Vinci Code, which was a boring murder mystery wrapped in overlong and over explained exposition. Angels and Demons integrates the expository information into the action much more successfully and maintains the tension of the story with a hostage crisis and a countdown to the detonation of a weapon that will destroy the Vatican. These plot devices provide ample distraction from the lack of character development or the flimsiness of the plotting. The possibility of religiously based terrorism gives the film some additional weight and the portrayal of hierarchy and power within the organization of the Church is rather interesting and adds some drama.
What Doesn’t: Like The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons stretches its credibility to the breaking point. The characters spend most of their time racing from historical marker to historical marker, not knowing exactly what they are looking for, but when they arrive at each one, the characters magically discover what statue or inscription will point them to the next objective. All of this running around doesn’t lead anywhere and sends the heroes on a journey around the city in which very little is actually learned about the plot against the Church or those who are executing it. The knowledge of the secular academic characters appears to be boundless, especially a physicist played by Ayelet Zurer, who appears to know as much about diseases, first aid, art history, and religion as she does about antimatter. The ending is really problematic, as the story gives itself over to coincidence and is rather ridiculous.
Bottom Line: Angels and Demons is an improvement over its predecessor but it is still a troubled film. There are just too many coincidences and plot holes or outrageous and just plain false scientific and historical inaccuracies to recommend the film.
Episode: #240 (May 24, 2009)