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WGUC Reviews

Angels and Demons

Angels and Demons
Sony Pictures
Rated PG-13
Now Showing at: most major theaters.
Review by: Larry Thomas


Everyone who goes to movies generally knows what to expect from a sequel, of which there are far too many. With rare exceptions…The Godfather 2 and Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan come to mind…sequels are done for the quick box office buck and are generally pretty sad events.

Ron Howard’s follow-up to The DaVinci Code is no exception. Angels and Demons, based on the novel by Dan Brown, returns Tom Hanks to the role of Robert Langdon, a sort of denominational detective who uses his professorial skills in symbols and such to fit together pieces of the given puzzle. In Angels and Demons, Hanks is summoned to the Vatican where a Conclave to select the new Pope is about to commence. However, as with all mystery stories, there is skullduggery afoot, and the powers that be are convinced that Hanks is the only one who can unravel all the clues.

As written by Akiva Goldsman, who penned The DaVinci Code screenplay, and David Koepp, scribe of the last Indiana Jones outing and two of the Jurassic Park films, the characters are all one-dimensional, lacking originality and any interesting characteristics whatsoever. And many of the lines of stale dialogue are downright laughable. The whole film plays out much like Indiana Jones meets The Bourne Identity. There are extended shots of everyone running somewhere, since everything is to happen at an appointed time, and many swooping crane shots. All of this frenzy is accompanied by a constant, pounding score by Hans Zimmer that manages to go beyond tiresome to downright annoying. You’d think with all this motion and action taking place on the screen the film would be fast-paced. Wrong. At two hours, eighteen minutes, it feels like it will never end. And when it does, there are at least three climaxes, one that is especially ludicrous, before the final credits roll.

Hanks is not the right actor for a film like this, and his character expresses emotions ranging from A to B. It’s usually either bemused smirking or incredulous amazement. Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer, who should have stayed with the acting lessons, plays the clichéd role of the female sidekick. The usually terrific Swedish character Stellan Skarsgaard scowl and frumps as head of the Swiss Guard, the security force that protects the Pope. German actor Armin Mueller-Stahl plays Cardinal Strauss. He’s always good, although he’s done roles like this in his sleep. Ewan MacGregor as an Irish priest who is the Pope’s Camerlengo is a tad more interesting, but not by much. And films buffs will get a chuckle out of seeing Ron Howard’s father, Rance, playing a cardinal.

If you are unable to figure out every plot twist and every alleged surprise before they occur on screen, then you haven’t been watching many movies. All the events, and many lines of dialogue, are telegraphed in advance which makes the film even more plodding. If you absolutely, positively have to see a movie tonight, then go to your local video store, close your eyes, and pick a title off the shelf. You can’t do any worse.


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