Starring Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellan Skarsgard, Pierfrancesco Favino.
Written by David Koepp & Akiva Goldsman.
Directed by Ron Howard.
I’ll watch anything that Ron Howard makes or that Tom Hanks is involved with, so my problem with Angels & Demons does not lie with them. It lies with author Dan Brown, a glorified scribe of essentially pulp fiction (which is not necessarily a bad thing) whose stories lack dimension and whose ideas, to some, border on plagiarism. Famously, he was involved in a court case with the authors of the underground text The Holy Blood & The Holy Grail when it was alleged that the ideas expressed in that book were stolen by Brown for his novel The Da Vinci Code – in turn exposing the world to a theory that had escaped the mainstream for twenty-odd years. With Angels & Demons, Brown has centred on the much-discussed, and sometimes misunderstood, myth of the Illuminati – a clan of scientists and independent thinkers who plotted to subvert the teachings of the Catholic Church centuries ago (according to Brown). When four cardinals are kidnapped and a symbolic stamp of the Illuminati is sent to the Vatican, Robert Langdon (Hanks), the protagonist of Brown’s earlier work, is summoned to decipher the symbology and stop the Illuminati plan to destroy Vatican City. And it’s all by-the-numbers really, with some questionable dialogue, plot developments and even questionable excitement. But the filmmakers and actors cannot be judged too harshly, for all film begins with a story that is built upon, and the blame for any poor film must (nearly) always reside with the script – and the excellent screenwriters Koepp and Goldsman unfortunately did not have much to work with. Salvatore Totino’s location photography of Rome is definitely impressive and probably the films’ major saving grace, for this is still a classy production – just not particularly memorable.
By Wadrick Jones