Angels & Demons Directed by: Ron Howard Cast: Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellan Skarsgård, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Nikolaj Lie Kaas Running Time: 2 hrs 15 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: May 15, 2009
Plot: Based upon the bestselling novel by Dan Brown, Harvard religious iconology expert Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) once again finds that forces with ancient roots are willing to stop at nothing, even murder, to advance their goals. The Catholic Church is in jeopardy after the Pope dies and there are four other potential Popes who might be killed. And an old rival of the church, the Illuminati, just might be to blame.
Who’s It For? The book wasn't the HUGE hit that "The Da Vinci Code" was, but nonetheless, Hanks will put butts in the seats, and Howard has something to prove after the less than spectacular The Da Vinci Code movie, right?
Expectations: None ... wait, that's not true. Though there is really no hype or buzz surrounding this movie; it's eerily quiet. As far as my expectations, I assumed Hanks and Howard wouldn't come back unless they felt they could do better work. And while Howard doesn't typically blow me away, he normally makes solid movies.
Actors: Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon: Do you want to watch a modern day Indiana Jones without the fighting and weapons? That's kind of what we're left with in Hanks' hands. His hair has been cut (improved), and he's the smartest man in the room, which normally is all I need. But he's the smartest about the Catholic Church. I don't know how many people that will excite (including the 1 billion Catholics). And here's a side note ... have you noticed how puffy Hanks' bags are under his eyes? They're huge. I like that he's not getting work done. He's got a really interesting face that should keep getting better with age. This sounds like I'm insulting him, but I swear I'm not. Score: 6
Ewan McGregor as Camerlengo Patrick McKenna: From the get go I didn't care for McGregor in this role. He was the Pope's right hand man, and plays the eager young kid in a mountain of old men. He had a chance to win me over with a big speech to all of the archbishops, and it just fell a little flat. I'm sorry to say the shine has worn off on McGregor, who I used to love. Want proof? I was a huge fan of A Life Less Ordinary. Score: 4
Ayelet Zurer as Vittoria Vetra: Rule number one: if you're dealing with antimatter, you must be an alluring scientist. You can't just wear sweatpants to work and get the job done without washing the hair. I didn't remember Zurer from Munich. And the reason she tags along? It seems she's the only one who can change a battery. I needed a little more. Score: 5
Nikolaj Lie Kaas as Assassin: I love that I don't know this guy. It completely helps that our killer is an unknown actor (to American audiences). And he pulls off this line, so we're in pretty good hands: "If God has issues, it won't be with what we've done, it's with what we're about to do." Score: 7
Talking: It's insanely wordy. I have no clue where we were going, or what tale Langdon was telling. I feel like I needed to take a class or two to fully understand. But that's the problem with the screenplay. It doesn't feel like the subject matter is all that accessible. And in reality, aren't we just talking about an angel statue pointing a certain way? All other conversations revolve around Langdon saying something like, "I don't believe God sent me." And someone responding, "Of course he did." Though I did think Hanks nailed the line, "Faith is a gift I have yet to receive." Score: 4
Sights: This is the main draw of the film. Even though there is an odd lighting choice that makes everything seem angelic (in a plastic way), we also get to run through Rome along with Langdon. For most of us, it's as close to Vatican City as we're going to get. Especially the vaults--man, I love vaults. Score: 8
Sounds: The score is incredibly necessary in Angels & Demons. If it wasn't for the uptempo, the driving and running would have gotten tremendously boring. The man behind it? Hans Zimmer. Yeah, he's that good. Score: 7
Best Scene: While in the Vatican's secret archives, the oxygen gets turned off. It might not sound like enough, but it's the only scene that really had me going. Langdon and a guard try to figure a way out, while locked in an airtight glass room. Not as easy as it sounds.
Ending: It's a twist. One that the movie foreshadows a little too much. Plus, there never felt like there were enough stakes, even though we were supposedly dealing with humongous, gigantic stakes. We should be knee-deep in stakes.
Questions: Remeber, this section is called PLOT SPOILERS ... So ... McKenna plans way too much for all of this to work out in the end, right? The thing I just can't get over is his hope that he understands what happens when antimatter goes off.
Rewatchability: At over two hours, it's not something I would ever purposely seek out, but I could see keeping it on for a little while if I came across it on TV.
Antimatter and crosses. Science and religion. Angels and demons. You'll never guess, but it's more of a gray area than black and white. I like my movie mysteries when I have a chance to solve the puzzle. And the Catholic church is not my area of expertise. While Howard and Hanks do improve on The Da Vinci Code, the movie never, truly matters. We never feel connected to the four potential Pope's that are captured. We never have a reason to care about the connection between Vittoria and Langdon. And there doesn't seem to be enough buttons pushed on the side of science or religion. There is no passion in these Angels & Demons, but it's a decent enough ride, so you won't truly mind.
Final Score: 6/10