MOVIE REVIEW: Angels & Demons: When You Write Of Us – And You Will… Be Gentle

Unlike The Da Vinci Code, I found the Angels & Demons novel to be impenetrable… maybe it was just my mood, but I saw the movie without having read the book. That may have been a positive for the movie.

Angels & Demons

Angels & Demons has a number of things going for it: it’s less convoluted than The Da Vinci Code, which means it’s less clunky, less herky-jerky; Tom Hanks has vastly more chemistry with Ayelet Zurer than he did with Audrey Tautou; the lack of a campy eccentric performance a la Sir Ian McKellan in the The Da Vinci Code is made up by several moments of genuine humor [though, unfortunately, no more wit], and Professor Robert Langdon [Tom Hanks] has foregone his hideous, slicked-back do and gone for a center part that makes him look like a middle-aged Reggie [see: Archie Comics], while, while still odd, is a vast improvement.

The idea of the Catholic Church being under attack by the long underground Illuminati allows for the same kind of mix of fact and fiction that made The Da Vinci Code relatively compelling despite its clunkiness. Placing this attack during the period immediately following the death of the pope is good as it catches the church at its most vulnerable.

The nature of the attack is such that there had to be someone inside the Vatican to make it happen which gives us an intriguing array of possible infiltrators. Is it the Pope’s Camerlengo, Father Patrick McKenna [Ewan McGregor], a youthful priest with a curious tie to the late pontiff; could it be Commander Richter [Stellan Skarsgard] head of the Swiss Guard, who controls the security for the Pope; might it be Cardinal Strauss [Armin Mueller-Stahl], an older Cardinal with great influence – but not one of the four most likely candidates to replace the late pontiff?

Because the threat includes the kidnapping of the four most likely candidates – and the destruction of Vatican City via the releasing of anti-matter, Langdon is joined in his assignment to find the missing cardinals and prevent the explosions by beautiful physicist Vittoria Vetra [Zurer].

Ron Howard’s pacing is much better and his transitions smoother in Angel & Demons – he clearly recognized that The Da Vinci Code was not his best work. Unfortunately, even with all the improvements in this production, it’s still not more than a reasonably solid entertainment that doesn’t really bear repeat viewings. Still it looks much better than its predecessor [Rome being an incredibly beautiful place] and the basic storytelling is decent enough. Which is to say that, unless there’s an audio commentary, I certainly wouldn’t rush out to buy the DVD.

Final Grade: B-


  1. Angels and Demons may be a so-so or awful movie but it's still original and much more interesting than anything a movie critic could write. Your envy is pathetic and palpable. It must soothe your ego to tear Dan Brown's books apart but I bet you couldnt write anything even halfway as interesting as this series. All you can do is be a puny critic. How sad.

  2. So second-rate Dan Brown is still not done ripping off all of the ideas in Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea's "Illuminatus!", which was published all the way back in 1975. Illuminatus! is the ultimate conspiracy book, and Wilson's other works, including his "Cosmic Trigger" series also cover many of the same topics which Brown ripped off. Wilson was also a better writer. The movie "23" also ripped off Wilson.

    But I still can not get over how all of the hundreds of shallow media reviewers and even shallower book readers who only read what is on the 'best seller' list, have no idea that Brown just stole other people's works.

  3. I believe that the movie would be good for someone who has not read the book. As for me, I have read the book and just went and saw the movie. From the get go, the movie was different. And I couldn't help but continue to notice things that were different. We as readers can not say anything or complain about Brown "stealing" other peoples works. It happens through out the writing world. Reading is about intertainment and knowledge. It depends on the person doing the reading. How ever I do not understand how one who writes a book can let the producers of a movie completely change and distort the book.

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