ANGELS & DEMONS – Film Review

Release date: May 15th, 2009
Rating: PG-13 for sequences of violence, disturbing images and thematic material.

Stars: Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellan Skarsgård, Armin Mueller-Stahl
Director: Ron Howard
Writers: David Koepp & Akiva Goldsman (Screenplay), Dan Brown (Novel)

I haven’t been to a press screening for a while, so I was bemused to have to handover my PDA, cell-phone when admitted to the Leicester Square preview screening for the follow-up to The Da Vinci Code. It seems the film piracy is a huge issue, so the distributors were taking no chances.

Now I have to admit that despite not being a fan of The Da Vinci Code [neither novel or film]; I enjoyed the precursor Angels and Demons in novel form, but with quite a few reservation; so I was looking forward to see what Howard had crafted for the film adaptation. The film like the novel has a central theme of Science vs. Religion, which despite all the hokum and scientific mumbo-jumbo is very interesting. I was amused to see that due to the success of The Da Vinci Code, the film version of Angels and Demons has been made into a sequel [rather than a prequel], with Tom Hanks’ Robert Langdon, Harvard symbologist called in by the Vatican to investigate a terrorist plot centering on the base of the Catholic Church. The most disturbing aspect of the film is Hanks’ rather scary haircut. The plot to steal a vial of Anti-Matter from CERN has been updated for the film adaptation – the vial now originates from the Large Hadron Collider [LHC].

Then the film like Da Vinci Code, becomes a gonzo chase thriller. The film chronicles Langdon and his beautiful Italian helper [played by Ayelet Zurer] darting across Rome searching for kidnapped priests, who are rigged to die. The sub-plot of the election of a new Pope, the involvement of the Illuminati in seeking revenge on the church and corruption in the Swiss Guard [Vatican Police], all make this film rather confusing.

With Ewan McGregor in high camp mode; and a supporting cast who look anguished, confused and weary, this film flies along to the ticking of the Anti-Matter bomb. There is an excellent twist at the end with a spectacular flourish. As hokum goes, this is classy hokum and good fun; just don’t think too deeply about the plot as it is rather holy [pun intended]
– Ali Karim

Ali Karim is Assistant Editor at Shots eZine, a contributing editor at January Magazine & The Rap Sheet and writes for Crimespree magazine, Deadly Pleasures and Mystery Readers International and is an associate member of both the CWA and ITW. Karim contributed to ‘Dissecting Hannibal Lecter’ ed. Benjamin Szumskyj [McFarland Press] a critical examination of the works of Thomas Harris, as well as The Greenwood Encyclopedia of British Crime Fiction [ed. Barry Forshaw].