Monday, May 25, 2009

The Review of Angels and Demons

When Dan Brown's masterpieces "The Da Vinci Code" and "Angels and Demons" were available on bookshelves some years ago, it created a controversy that very few books have managed to achieve... a form of controversy which further boosted the 2 novel's appeal and value. So compelling was it's story, that Christians around the world opposed it eventhough probably having read it for themselves! And even after author Dan Brown publically announced that it was all fictional, shockwaves could still be felt around the world. Till today, it is definitely recognized as one of the most brilliant pieces of modern literature ever written.


Recently, a film of the latter title was released as a sequel to the first 2006 Da Vinci Code film. (which we honestly felt was a letdown.) As it was Directed by Ron Howard, who was also behind the Da Vinci Code, you would expect that this 2nd movie be better than the first. Fortunately, it was... although only just.

Originally, the Angels & Demons story was written in a time frame prior to the Da Vinci Code occurences. However, the movie plot written by screenwriter Akiva Goldsman doesn't stay true to the original story. That prospect alone would put question marks on fans of Dan Browns novels. Not a good start.


The movie picks up from where Robert Langdon (played by Tom Hanks) left off in The Da Vinci Code, having already built a reputation for himself as a "symbologist". In a nutshell, it's about a secret organization known as the Illuminati, trying to have their revenge on Christianity. This revenge comes in the form of causing all sorts of havoc in the Vatican city fusing technology and religion. Robert Landgon then comes in to save the day using his immense (sometimes unbelievable) historical religious knowledge to solve clues and puzzles (relatively easily) that ultimately lead to him helping to save the day.

The movie lacks depth as with the Da Vinci Code film: Situations seemed to be solved extremely easily, it lacked a "darkness" that the 2 novels originally had, and it just did not live up to what you would usually expect from a Tom Hanks movie. If anything, it felt like "National Treasure" (the one with Nicholas Cage) just on a more serious note. If the movie were summed up in 1 word, it would be PREDICTABLE, although there are some minor twists. (which were also quite predictable).

On the brightside... the cinematography is excellent, the filming locations are very picturesque, there's quite a bit of humour, and to a certain extent, it's a wee bit more "edge-of-your-seat" stuff as compared to the Da Vinci code. There's also some impressively good use of CGI and special effects, specifically refering to a certain explosion at the end of the movie which was nothing short of spectacular. But that's about it.

There's always a risk of not living up to expectations when making movies based on existing novels, comics, stories etc. Plainly because there is an expectation to live up to. Unfortunately, Angels & Demons rates as a mediochre interpretation of the novel at best. Perhaps if you view the movie as having nothing to do with the novel, then maybe you could credit it for the brilliant story entailing the illuminati, the Vatican's secrets and the fall of Christianity etc...
But in reality, the novel is the one which stakes that claim, which then leaves the movie with really nothing much going for it.

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