Friday, December 11, 2009

"Angels and Demons" Has its Demons, but Overall is a Good Movie

A couple of years ago, I read Dan Brown's novel,"Davinci Code". This was a book that, as the cliche says, was hard to put down. When the movie came out, I was excited, especially since one of our finest actors, Tom Hanks was cast as the novel's hero, Professor and symbologist Robert Langdon. But when I saw the film adaptation of the novel, I came away disappointed. This has often happened, and not just me. This time was different. I have not read Brown's "Angels and Demons", a fact that, as I was renting the film, I started to regret. I'd heard all of the rumblings, saying that the film left out a huge portion of the novel, or there were parts of the film that had nothing to do with the plot of the novel. Of course, not having read the novel, I can't say. What I can say is that I enjoyed this film much more than the adaptation of "Davinci Code".

The film re-introduces Harvard professor Robert Langdon, a well-known and highly touted symbologist. As the film opens, the pope has just died. While this may seem innocuous, or just a part of life, the cardinals expect fowl play. When the top four candidates to take over the papacy are kidnapped as a part of a terrorist act against the Vatican, Professor Langdon is called upon to help solve the mystery of the missing cardinals, as well as the supposed innocent death of the pope. Ewan McGregor, Stellan Skarsgard, and Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer round out the main cast.

As I watched it, I found that the film certainly had its high, as well as it low points. The first high point of the film is the pairing of director Ron Howard with the film's star Tom Hanks. These two, while huge stars in their own rights, are a huge force when paired together. I can only imagine that Hanks does not need much direction in order to do what he does. And Ron Howard knows that. They've worked together in several excellent films (i.e. Apollo 13, The Davinci Code). Secondly, the role of the young priest, played by Scottish actor Ewan McGregor is an intrical part of the film. He has shown his acting range through several films. We saw him play a dual role in director Michael Bay's "The Island", the first as a cloned version of someone in the outside world, and then of the man himself. The first man spoke with McGregor's natural Scottish brogue, and his clone spoke with a flawless American accent. Finally, the antagonist of the film, played by Nikolaj Lie Kaas, and known in the film only as the assassin, plays his role of antagonist very, very well. He'll make your skin crawl.

While the acting in the film is excellent, the story in the film was good, but it was somewhat conviluted. There are several stories within this film. If you could pick one, you could certainly either write a novel or make a film with that one underlying idea. In this film, there are several stories that would never otherwise co-exist together. The underlying religious story is palpable, but not to a point that you're overwhelmed with it. But when you throw in an act of terrorism, and a murder, you get lost within the mix.

This was a good movie. It was well casted and had good special effects. But the old addage of the film never being as good as the book is probably true. Having never read the book, I can't say. What I can say is that if you read the book, you probably shouldn't see the movie. Now, after seeing this film, I am inclined to read the book. Call it an underlying curiosity.

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