Last night, we went to see a sneak preview of the newest Tom Hanks’ & Ron Howard joint project, Angels & Demons. With all of the buzz (good and bad) that religious movies get, I am going to assume that you’ve heard of this movie. It is based on another book by the infamous Dan Brown. As I understand it, this book was actually first in Brown’s story following the main character, Robert Langdon. You can kind of tell this in this recent installment of the movie series.
First of all, there are a lot of familiar faces in this movie. There is Ewan McGregor, the bad guy from Eastern Promises, the terrorist girl from Vantage Point, the math dude from Good Will Hunting, the guy from nearly every prime time television show, the landlord from Spider-Man 3, and many more supporting cast members that you have seen all over on television and in movies.
The movie began on a bad note for me. For some reason, the writer and director decided to over-do-it on reintroducing Robert Langdon, by having him tell us about the meanings of everything around him every few moments. We get it! He knows pretty much every symbol in the world. Can we move on? Second, part of the opening sequence takes us underground with CERN, moving the camera in a downward spiral. I don’t usually react to that, but even I was getting nauseous.
Once we get passed the previous complaints, I have one final one. In the very beginning we are introduced to the female lead, Vittoria Vetra, played by Ayelet Zurer. She has an obvious need to be in the plot at first, but then there is a whole middle section of the movie where I just couldn’t understand why she was tagging along with Langdon. Considering the serious nature of what they were trying to do, she was much more useful and needed to stay at the Vatican. (You will need to see the movie to see why.)
Beyond my previous gripes, the movie begins to grab hold of you, and we return to the suspenseful and mysterious plot laid out for us by the writers – which we became familiar with in the previous film, The Da Vinci Code. We get taken through the clue solving by using all kinds of symbols and statues throughout Rome and the Vatican.
Howard does a great job, as usual. He only gives us clues when he needs to, and in reflection, many of the clues only come to light after the movies reveals its final hidden clue near the end. We are very easily misdirected from who is good and who is bad throughout the duration of the film.
At the end of the movie, I was definitely impressed. There was plenty of action, and all of it was believable. There was some technical things that were not believable to me, but that’s because I am a bit of a nerd. The average movie watcher would not catch on to most of them. Then there is the big elephant that is still in the room… With these movies, there is the element of controversy in that the plot can easily be interpreted as being critical of Christianity, or more specifically, Catholicism. In this installment, the main point of the movie can easily go undiscovered. This movie revolves around the church and science battling each other. At the end of the movie, the writers have the church and science working together. Right or wrong with your beliefs, this is in the end just a movie – and it is a very entertaining one.
I would certainly endorse watching this movie in the theater. I am very selective in what movies I pay to go see, versus which ones I wait for to come out later.