Monday, December 21, 2009
ANGELS & DEMONS
Angels & Demons is a first-rate, very exciting movie thriller; and also a lousy film.
The action will have your heart beating faster; the scientific and religious nonsense, together with the cliches and holes in the plotting can make your brain hurt.
After the death of a Pope, four Cardinals, the leading candidates for the Papacy, are kidnapped and threatened with murder. A secret, scientific, anti-church conspiracy claims responsibility. Dr Robert Langdon, a Harvard expert on these "Illuminati," albeit a presumed enemy of the Church, is called on by the Vatican to help resolve the crisis. Directed by Ron Howard; from the book by Dan Brown.
Tom Hanks as always is fun to watch. He can make the most boring, silly exposition sound like real drama. Ayalet Zurer is an effective, believable, and attractive sidekick.
The routine (also inconsistent and incomplete) plotting puts a deadline for murder every hour of screen world time and every 20 min or so of audience clock time -- and then comes the matter-antimatter bombblast to demolish the Vatican and most of Rome (basic screenwriting 101 technique for "upping the stakes"). Harvard professor Robert Langdon (aka Tom Hanks) must identify the next murder site from clues so sparse they would confound Sherlock Holmes, and then race across a crowded Rome in less time than Jack Bauer would need to get from one street in LA to the next block.
The production team does a fantastastic job of rendering Rome and the Vatican. The DVD extra "Rome Wasn't Built In A Day" is a gem for anyone interested in making movies or knowing how they are created!
The traditional pairing (male star; young, attractive, intelligent female costar -- no sex) works well; the traditional plotting (don't knock screenwriting 101 -- it's a good course) works too. It's a fun movie.
Watch it! Just don't think about it.