Friday, May 15, 2009
I've made no secret of the fact that I love Ron Howard and Imagine Films. For me, they never disappoint. Howard's love of film making is so evident in his ability to bring such richness and life to all his movies.
Angels and Demons really sets a fast pace. The things that make up The Da Vinci Code: mystery, conspiracy, mysticism, religion and a grand, intellectual scavenger hunt, are all present in this film as well, however, the main intent is for it to really move and that it does.
Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is invited to Vatican City to lend his expertise on The Illuminati. Reminiscent of the Priory of Sion of The Da Vinci Code, the Illuminati are a secret sect of physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher's intent on the advances of science. In the 17th century, the Catholic Church condemns and executes members of this sect in the age old war of religion vs. science.
Legend has it that members of the Illuminati still exist and have been waiting for the right time to seek their revenge. The right time has now presented itself in the fact that the Vatican is voting in a new Pope and a team of scientists, lead by Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer) have generated Antimatter, the light and energy of creation.
The clock starts ticking once this highly explosive, almost nuclear, Antimatter is stolen along with 4 of the popular Pope replacements. Sending Langdon and Vetra on a chase to figure out the symbolic path of the Illuminati and save Vatican City.
Although Dan Brown's novels (I still want to read Angels & Demons, been sitting on my shelf for two years) are dense with history, art, mysticism, ancient text and symbolism, that can make for some unwieldy dialog and exposition; it's OK, because of the nature of the film and because that stuff is so damn interesting. It also doesn't take anything away from the suspense, the moments of gore or most viewers ability to follow the plot, which throws in a real character twist at the end.
Sexy as physicist, Vittoria is, the story doesn't leave room for any romance or even flirtation between she and Langdon. Too bad for Hanks, who had to really hustle and exert himself in this movie. He must have lost at least 15lbs of over-paid, Hollywood A-List bloat, by the end of the shoot.
No mention is made of the whereabouts of the Holy off-spring, Sophie. I suppose that's best since technically, Angels and Demons is before The Da Vinci Code. Although it is established that Langdon is known by the Vatican, because of his last adventure.
Ewan McGregor is very appealing as the "Camerlengo" he saunters through The Vatican in his black priestly robes, like Neo from the Matrix.
The production value of this film is awe inspiring. I've seen interviews with Ron Howard, discussing all the difficulties of shooting in Rome, the access denied to them. That they had to use tourist decoys to film locations with hand held cameras. The resulting re-creation of The Vatican and Vatican City is so believable! It shows true dedication to the craft of everyone involved.
[Screenplay -David Koepp & Akiva Goldsman ]
Food Footnote: Flemming's Steakhouse in Newport Beach, held a wine tasting, advanced screening of Angels and Demons. Now that's what I call a food and film tie in!
Rating: 4 outta 5 Lambs