Saturday, May 16, 2009

ANGELS AND DEMONS: The First Big Bad Movie Of The Summer

ANGELS AND DEMONS (Dir. Ron Howard, 2009) Symbologist Robert Langdon, the hero of the critically condemned yet commercially successful 2006 film THE DA VINCI CODE, is back in this bloated blockbuster wannabe adaptation of Dan Brown's inconsequentially controversial bestselling book. As played by a unusually stiff Tom Hanks, Langdon, who was described by Brown as "Harrison Ford in a Harris tweed", is no franchise powering figure - obviously he's no Indiana Jones but come on, he's not even in the league of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan who Ford played in a few durable 90's thrillers. After the Pope dies and Cardinal candidates are kidnapped with the Vatican under terrorist threats, Hanks is called upon by Vatican police officials to do his deciphering clues thing. He suspects the Illuminati - the secret society considered to be the "power behind the throne" and with Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer as his obligatory dark haired female companion, he runs around Rome spouting exposition connecting the dubious dots. As the Pope's shifty eyed assistant, Ewan McGregor seems eager to chew scenery but stalks the shadows instead, lacking a coherent character. So does Stellan SkarsgÄrd as a police commander in charge of a bunch of black suits with ear pieces also running from location to location for reasons you're likely to forget. "I need a map with all the churches in Rome!" Hanks yells in possibly one of the least gripping moments in recent movie history. Like its predecessor, ANGELS AND DEMONS looks great (Salvatore Totino's luxurious cinematography being one of the sole saving graces), but the emptiness is endless with the actors, director, and everyone involved grasping for a gravitas that simply isn't there. Ron Howard has made many solid accessible films - FROST/NIXON was one of last year's best movies - so with hope, he'll leave Dan Brown's mechanical formula history playtime theatrics behind from here on out. I was reminded in one of the many long boring stretches of this intensely tedious film that I saw Howard/Hanks's first film together, the man meets mermaid rom com SPLASH, in the same theater almost exactly 25 years ago. Now, come to think of it, that was a fun movie with a more plausible take on mythology. Wish they'd make another like that next time around. More later...

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Quite a writeup. Can it really be that bad? I sorta liked the book, though it followed the usual Brown pattern.

Jesue V // FILM MUSIC ART blog said...

Good review. I thought this movie was decent, not the best, but certainly tolerable. Have you read the book? I bet you would've enjoyed it more if you had.

sophomorecritic said...

i haven't seen it yet, but i doubt it could be that unexciting. i was just curious to know if you already read the book are there any new surprises

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Anonymous said...

Worst movie ever, filmed with a home camera, awkward silences, odd angles and nothing like the book.