Friday, May 22, 2009

Angels & Demons

Ron Howard’s latest flick is an adaptation of the sequel to Dan Brown’s controversial novel The Da Vinci Code. This film, Angels and Demons, introduces us once again to the character of symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks). This time, he must uncover the mystery behind the recent resurgence of the Illuminati, an ancient group of Atheist philosophers and intellectuals who were banished and tortured by the Catholic Church many, many years ago. Now they’re back, and they’ve stolen a bomb capable of destroying Vatican City and everyone in it.

I can’t say I was a fan of the film adaptation of The Da Vinci Code. It was dull, boring and preposterous, but while Angels and Demons is definitely preposterous, it is anything but dull and boring. Ron Howard has replaced the previous film’s long, monotonous talk sequences with action scenes. When Code needed to run, it stood still. That’s not a problem here. Angels and Demons is loaded with some really nifty special effects. It’s not convoluted like its predecessor, and it’s far from boring.

The whole film, however, is supported by its performances. Ewan McGregor is great as a priest who takes over rule of the Catholic Church after the Pope’s death while they find a new, permanent Pope. Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer (who is often considered Israel’s best actress) holds her own against Tom Hanks (who is great here too, and not in enough stuff anymore).

Ron Howard is often considered by cineastes to be a mediocre director, the epitome of a journeyman who always turns in OK work, but never anything great. I’ve always defended his films. While he has had plenty of missteps in the past (like How the Grinch Stole Christmas), he has also directed A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13 and Cinderella Man, all films that I love. Plus, let’s not forget that this is one of the guys behind the greatest TV show of all-time (you read that right) Arrested Development.

But back to the film. If Angels and Demons is any kind of a sign, this is going to be a good summer for movies.


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