Monday, June 29, 2009

Angels and Demons

Angels and Demons has the constant forward momentum that The Da Vinci Code lacked. Ron Howard's latest drama is full of chase scenes and spirited talk on religion that is sure to cause some debate (but the film's central mystery is no where near as "controversial" as the first film). Now I've never read the book, but I've read other work by Dan Brown that makes me comfortable enough to think he could pull off this idea with his storytelling abilities (if the plot of the book is in fact the same as the film) but Howard, along with with screenwriters David Koepp and Akiva Goldsman, just keep piling on twist after twist after twist with no immediate context and the surprises end up being so out of left field that they almost border on nonsensical. It's as if a piece of paper or a clue is suddenly found every time a twist needs to take place as another layer is revealed. Especially when you look back on the movie at the end and try to trace the villain's plot backward, why is it all so complicated? Also on the note of the spirited talk, some of it feels out of place. The content of the conversations about how the church should deal with the Illuminati is well thought out but would the cardinals really be holding these meetings with the future of the church in charge. It makes little sense to stand up and debate church politics when there is looming threat on the horizon. The supporting players that surround Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) are also too typical for a conspiracy/adventure movie. The beautiful Ayelet Zurer as Langdon's partner is there to provide latin translation, with priests being played by Ewan McGreggor and Armin Mueller-Stahl that all know the correct information at the correct time, and Stellan Skarsgaard as the head of the Swiss police who of course doesn't always listen to Langdon's suggestions. No matter what the particulars of this story, the broad strokes could've been implanted on any other number of plots or characters. This is too typical of a thriller with all the walking and talking that one would expect. Yes there is some excitement, but Ron Howard once again falls into a generic predictability.

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