Posted at 6:33 PM on May 14, 2009
by Euan Kerr
So what makes a good summer flick? Chases, explosions, murderous villains, and a breakneck rush to foil an apocalyptic catastrophe. If it's in a beautiful place, that's all to the good. And if you can weave in a whiff of the supernatural, you are golden.
"Angels and Demons" the Ron Howard adaptation of Dan Brown's prequel to "The Da Vinci Code," (which is now in the Hollywood time line a sequel to the movie of the same name,) has it all.
Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, played with a straight face by Tom Hanks, finds himself enlisted by the Vatican and whisked to Rome to try to find where the Illuminati, an ancient underground order of scientists, has hidden four kidnapped Cardinals.
Langdon also has to find a vial of anti-matter hidden somewhere around the Vatican, which may explode like a nuclear bomb and wipe out the Vatican City. Oh, and this is going on while Rome is stuffed with people come to await the election of a new Pope, a job which the four kidnapped cardinals are considered top candidates.
Langdon has the support of the Camerlengo, (Ewan McGregor,) the late Pope's personal aide, and as he points out the 'pope by proxy' until the new pontiff is selected. However he runs afoul of Commander Richter of the Swiss Guard (Stellan Skarsgard) who is more than skeptical of Langdon's ability to help with the investigation.
It's a huge pile of clues and tension, and church politics, with some murder, great works of art, a few high calibre guns and branding irons thrown in. There are a lot of people with a lot to gain in the mix, and it's hard to sort the angels from the demons.
It doesn't really make sense if you think about it too much, but Howard moves everything along so fast you don't get much opportunity to do that. And if you miss something Robert Langdon is back a few moments later with a new clue anyway.
Hanks is good, Skasgard is better, and McGregor is great as the Camerlengo, trying to convince the remaining Cardinals that the city needs to be evacuated. On top of it all Rome looks great.
Also the film is much less political than "The Da Vinci Code,"
So sit back and enjoy the ride. You won't learn much about Vatican history or particle physics, but you'll have some fun.
It's weird that you think this film/book is less "political" than "DaVinci Code." I remember the book being basically about how the big bang theory could have been real, and the Catholic church's response to this. I'm hoping I didn't give anything away....but it will be interesting to see how this is spun in the film, or if it was left out.
I wasn't going to see this, but I think now that you say it's good, I think I just might have to. Thanks!