Thursday, 14 May 2009

Angels and Demons - Review

Indiana Jones + Seven + Water downed 12A certificate =...

After an extremely promising start with Star Trek and Coraline last week, the blockbuster season continues with a movie filled with suspense, mystery, dodgy religious officials, ancient symbols and more plot twists than one's stomach may be able to handle, that's right its time for another Indiana Jo...oh wait no my bad it's his slightly more conserved counterpart, Robert Langdon played by everyone's favourite non offensive leading man Tom Hanks in Ron Howard's follow up to the dull and less than memorable 2006 adaptation of The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons.

I might as well get this out of the way, when I ventured to go see this film I was preparing myself for the worst, yet another dull and depressing adaptation of Dan Brown's controversial thrillers however it's always nice to be pleasantly surprised. For those who are not aware, Angels and Demons is technically the prequel to the Da Vinci Code but not one to confuse viewers Ron Howard has lightly dropped hints that this film is in fact set after the events of the previous film, but that is frankly a minor detail in the over all story, setting this film as a completely separate entity away from the Da Vinci Code (and benefiting massively for it...). Without dropping spoilers, the general plot of the film revolves around the death of the latest Pope thus leaving the Catholic Church, in all their power and wisdom, resided to selecting a successor, of course this being a film and a high charged story things of course aren't that simple with an ancient enemy from the church's distant past re-emerging to inflict chaos upon its devoted followers in the form of the mysterious Illuminati, which in turn brings our hero into the equation once more to decifer clues and symbols to these mad men in hope of trying to save the day. One of the aspects of this movie I enjoyed compared to the last one was that it managed to capture the fast pace and thrilling intensity of the original story , instead of being confined to a couple of days this was set against essentially 24 hours forcing the protagonists to keep the pace of the story moving at an enjoyable brisk speed.

When the original movie was released I'll admit I didn't think Tom Hanks was best suited to the role of Langdon but having the opportunity to watch this movie has made me have a change of heart, as Hanks definitely feels a lot more comfortable in the role this time round, possibly unlike Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons had considerably less hype surrounding it, thus was able to concentrate on making an enjoyable murder mystery as oppose to a poor mish-mash of confusing clues that all seemingly forced themselves together to make a incoherent conclusion. Unlike the Da Vinci Code, A&D had a slightly less known cast but an extremely capable ensemble consisting of the talents of Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellan SkarsgÄrd as well as a host of unfamiliar Italian and European talent that truly added to the quality of the film. On the whole I think Ron Howard did an excellent job with the direction of the film, providing some shockingly graphic scenes, pushing the limit within the 12A boundries and really getting to the heart of what makes Brown's books appealing, that sense of mystery and anticipation revealing just enough until the audience is ready to handle more of the plot twisting story. As well as the direction, the special effects when called upon were excellent, never looking cheap and nasty such as last month's Wolverine film with cinematography truly demonstrating the beauty and claustrophobic nature of a busy European city like Rome set to a high paced, epic, yet haunting score provided by one of my favourite film composers, the ever-capable Hans Zimmer

I shall not lie, though this was a much better adaptation than its predecessor, I don't feel its a film that I will want to watch over and over again like certain other films I have seen lately, in that respect I think we're still waiting for that all defining interpretation of Brown's work for the big screen, and maybe studio execs might want to re-evaluate whether Ron Howard is the right man for that particular job next time. That said however Angels and Demons is certainly an enjoyable way to spend two and a half hours invoking one's lust for adventure, mystery and suspense, even if it is factually up the cow's backside, in the same way that the Indiana Jones films have done in the past or even comparable to the murder mystery Seven with its religious undertones. I have no doubt in my mind that the adventures of Robert Langdon will continue on the big screen after this, but we haven't quite achieved the perfect adventure from him just yet.


See this if you liked...
The Da Vinci Code, Indiana Jones, Seven

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