Angels and Demons is directed by Ron Howard and adapted to screenplay by David Koepp and Akiva Goldsman from the Dan Brown novel of the same name. It stars Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellan Skarsgard, Pierfrancesco Favino, Nikolaj Lie Kaas and Armin Mueller-Stahl. Music is scored by Hans Zimmer and cinematography by Salvatore Totino.
Symbologist Robert Langdon (Hanks) is summoned to Rome and asked by the Vatican to help when four cardinals are kidnapped. Upon examining a tape recording that announces that the cardinals will be killed one at a time hourly, Langdon places the crime at the door of the ancient Illuminati. It's a race against time to not only try and save the lives of the cardinals, but also to avert the detonation of an anti-matter bomb which will destroy Vatican City.
In spite of The Da Vinci Code making gargantuan amounts of cash, there were many who actively hated the movie. Yet this follow up from Howard and his makers still enticed just under $500 million's worth of worldwide paying punters into see it. Ultimately it's a very different movie to Da Vinci, where that film was sombre and talky, and had a great religious hook that caused tremors in Christianity, Angels and Demons is a pacey race against time serial killer thriller. Albeit one that is still religion based and additionally topped up with some sci-fi gubbins.
The ticking time bomb format works well as a cliff hanger and the narrative allows Langdon and his latest lady investigator, CERN scientist Vittoria Vettra (Zurer), scope for no-nonsense detective work. There's a good solid mystery story at the heart, one which doesn't veer to being over complicated, and the production value is of a very high standard. Casting is first class, with McGregor and Skarsgard complimenting the reliable, and thankfully new haircut sporting, Hanks. It's a little draggy in the mid-section, as history comes crashing into the mix and the makers feel the need to be cerebral, and the finale is bizarre if wholly appropriate, but herein lies the problem...
If you can judge it on its own terms, not as a Dan Brown novel recreation and a link to bad memories of Da Vinci Code (not me, I liked it well enough actually)? Then it's a film of simple pleasures. If not then it kind of goes without saying that you probably already dislike the movie! 7.5/10
Considering how enjoyable the critically derided Da Vinci Code turned out to be if you didn't take it seriously, it's surprising how weak the slightly better reviewed follow-up turned out. The kind of film that manages to look at once expensive and cheap, it's a lot less effective than the first film - the casting is much poorer, the script considerably weaker (especially one big rallying speech) and the absence of flashback montages makes the exposition seem far more perfunctory than its predecessor, not least because Hanks seems so bored with it all for much of the movie. Even the literal ticking clock device that drives the plot fails to produce any tension despite the high stakes, the villain and his motivation fairly obvious through heavy-handed writing and a couple of strikingly unconvincingly acted scenes long before the absurd sequence involving an anti-matter bomb, a helicopter and a parachute...
Despite the location and material giving it the slight veneer of a mainstream Hollywood stab at a giallo (Dario Argento in his prime could have had a field day with this one), everything is more run-of-the-mill here - even the internal Vatican politics play like the kind of TV miniseries that went out of fashion in the 70s, complete with a feelgood finale that sees its medieval conspiracy theory proved a blind and its atheist hero firmly back in God's good books to reassure the faithful that God is in his heaven and all's well with the Church. It's watchable but uninspired, feeling more like a film that was rushed into production to cash-in on its predecessor as quickly as possibly rather than something that took a few years to reach the screen.
While the US region-free two-disc Blu-ray offers a decent selection of featurettes, only three of them have made it to the single-disc UK Blu-ray, though that does at least include both the original 138-minute theatrical version and the 146-minute extended cut.
on 3 December 2015
Blessed with a good cast and the wonderful setting of Rome, this could have been a very good film, but as it turned out it disappointed on two counts in particular:
1. The apparent inability of Tom Hanks' character to speak or understand a single word of Italian or Latin. This was wholly unrealistic; whatever the perception of Americans generally, the fact is that very erudite Americans who are scholars of European history have at least have a good command of written French, German, Italian or as the case may be, so as to be able to understand original texts. Instead, there was the rather absurd spectacle (repeated) of all these Italians looking to Tom Hanks to explain the history of the Vatican to them (they apparently not having a clue despite working there), while he was apparently unable to understand any of the wording he saw, so everything had to be translated for this supposed world expert. Nor did he manage a single word of Italian throughout the film, not even a 'buongiorno' or 'grazie'. (Still, at least the Italians tended to speak Italian among each other, rather than accented English, so it could have been worse)
2. The plot. It started off reasonably plausible: a group which suffered persecution from the Church in centuries past is apparently seeking its revenge. But there is a twist towards the end - presumably an attempt at a clever twist, which fails miserably, because once all is revealed, you realise that the whole plot is utterly ludicrous.
In summary, 3 stars is perhaps a bit generous, but given because I liked the cast especially the lovely Italian girl with the scientific expertise, and the architectural setting. But it's not a film I'd rush to see again - you have to endure seeing a lot of extreme violence and cruelty, all based on a plot, which, frankly, is ridiculously implausible.
on 17 December 2014
ANGELS & DEMONS  [Theatrical and Extended Cut] [Blu-ray] Must See Film of the Year! A Devilish Delight! From The Author of The Da Vinci Code!
In Ron Howard's thrilling follow-up to ‘The Da Vinci Code,’ expert symbolist Robert Langdon [Tom Hanks] follows ancient clues on a heart-racing hunt through Rome to find the four Cardinals kidnapped by the deadly secret society, the Illuminati. With the Cardinals' lives on the line, and the Camerlengo [Ewan McGregor] desperate for help, Robert Langdon embarks on a nonstop, action-packed race through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, and the most secretive vault on Earth! Narrated by Alfred Molina.
Cast: Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellan Skarsgård, Pierfrancesco Favino, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Thure Lindhardt, David Pasquesi, Cosimo Fusco, Victor Alfieri, Carmen Argenziano, Carmen Argenziano, Bob Yerkes, Franklin Amobi, Curt Lowens, Todd Schneider and Alfred Molina (opening narration and uncredited)
Director: Ron Howard
Producer: Brian Grazer, John Calley and Ron Howard
Screenplay: Akiva Goldsman and David Koepp
Composer: Hans Zimmer
Cinematography: Salvatore Totino
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English: 5.1 Audio Description Track
Subtitles: English, English SDH and Hindi
Running Time: 138 minutes and 140 minutes
Number of discs: 1
Region: Region B/2
Studio: SONY Pictures Home Entertainment
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘Angels & Demons’ takes place mainly in the Vatican, and is festooned with the rites and ornaments of Roman Catholicism, I might as well begin with a confession. I have not read the novel by Dan Brown on which this film and directed, like its predecessor, ‘The Da Vinci Code’ by Ron Howard is based. I have come to believe that to do so would be a sin against my faith, not in the Church of Rome but in the English language, a noble and beleaguered institution against which Mr. Dan Brown practices vile and unspeakable blasphemy.
And it was partly, perhaps, because I chose to remain innocent of the book that I was able to enjoy ‘Angels & Demons’ more than ‘The Da Vinci Code’ which opened almost exactly three years ago to an international critical hissy fit and global box office rapture. The novel “Angels & Demons” was published three years before “The Da Vinci Code.”
The only people likely to be offended by ‘Angels & Demons’ are those who persist in their adherence to the fading dogma that popular entertainment should earn its acclaim through excellence and originality. It is therefore not surprising that the public reaction so far has been notably calm. Theological hyperventilation has been minimal, and Columbia Pictures has not been accused of falsifying the history or corrupting the morals of Western civilisation.
Played by Tom Hanks in his high minimalist mode. Once again Mr. Hanks is accompanied by a ravishing international film star, in this case the Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer ‘Munich’ and ‘Vantage Point.’ She plays Vittoria Vetra, an Italian scientist, specialising in “bioentanglement physics,” whose role is to serve not as a romantic foil, but rather as his sidekick sleuth and fellow panellist in a high-velocity interdisciplinary seminar.
And as an exercise in extreme mass-market tourism ‘Angels & Demons’ gives pretty good value. Unable to shoot in the Vatican itself, Mr. Howard and his team have deftly blended actual Roman locations with Hollywood stage sets and CGI images to make a dreamy, ephemeral Eternal City.
The costume and production design, all those red cardinals’ robes swirling dervish like in the incense-tinted light, those sensuous Bernini sculptures and soundless library stacks, nearly steal the movie from the bland, dogged heroes. Luckily an international squad of potential villains and victims, you’ll figure out who is which soon enough, since Mr. Dan Brown tends to let the wiring show when he rigs his surprise twists, has already carried out the larceny.
The interesting thing about this film is its treatment of the Catholic Church. Many have criticised the film and labelled it as “anti-Catholic” but I feel that’s not a fair criticism. While the film is critical of many of the Catholic Church’s failures over the course of centuries, it does have a reverence for Catholicism’s place in the world and as a source of hope and comfort for hundreds of millions of people across the world. The struggle between faith and science is not something that is easily reconciled and it’s something that is still a source of conflict today.
Ron Howard is a skilled and talented director and is one of the few actors that have made the transition from actor to full-time director with commercial and critical success. Ron Howard took the criticisms of ‘The DaVinci Code’ and made improvements in the pre-sequel to quicken the pace. Rumour has it that Ron Howard and Tom Hanks aren’t done with Robert Langdon and will be getting back together to adapt Dan Brown’s latest book Inferno in the coming years.
‘Angels & Demons’ is a great mix of tense action, religious intrigue, history, and conspiracy theories. It’s smartly written, even if it does have some inaccuracies. It’s also mostly independent of ‘The Da Vinci Code’ with only brief allusions to the other story so if you haven’t seen the first film you won’t feel lost watching the second. If you enjoy history it’s worth a watch.
Blu-ray Video Quality – Presented in a 1080p encoded image and aspect ratio of 2.40:1 transfer that shows more detail and deeper colour than the Blu-ray I reviewed earlier this year of the extended version of the prior film. There seems to be a much greater variety of colours, textures, people and environments on display with this film, and the HD transfer appropriately reveals a satisfying depth of detail in everything from a CGI representation of a super collider at work to a depiction of a Vatican Conclave of Cardinals trying to elect a new pope. The marriage of CGI to real locations is fairly seamless, except in the very few situations when it’s clear that nothing but CGI could depict the visual. Please Note: Playback Region B/2: This will not play on most Blu-ray players sold in North America, Central America, South America, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia. Learn more about Blu-ray region specifications.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – Presented in an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix in English and French. The mix provides clear dialogue from the front channels and no mean feat given the wildly varying accents on aural display here from the cast, along with effective use of the surround channels for atmosphere and music. There is some satisfying use of directional effects in the surround channels, particularly one search sequence within a construction area. As with the first film, the subwoofer gets a pretty intense workout, particularly during the big action sequences, the big music moments, and during the obvious opportunities like the aforementioned super collider event, and the film’s climax.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Original Theatrical Version [1080p] [2.40:1] [138 minutes]
Brand New Extended Version [1080p] [2.40:1] [140 minutes] The extended edition adds a mere eight minutes to the film's running time, and while much of the material is brief snippets of useless filler, there's substantially more gore during the violent encounters. To get a PG rating for the theatrical cut, many of the graphic shots had to be altered or eliminated, and they have been reinserted into the film here. The extended version definitely earns a 15 rating in the UK, and parents should be cautioned about potentially objectionable content.
Special Feature: Path of Illumination and Tutorial Video [1080p] This is an interactive tour of five major locations for this film in Rome: Piazza Del Popolo, St. Peter’s Square, Santa Moria Della Vittoria, Piazza Navona and the Pantheon. Each location has its own sub-page, containing clickable access to a glossary, some general information about the location, a brief 1080p clip about the filming there, story information about the clues found at the location, and basic information about the element discussed there. Each location also has a brief 1080p summary clip, and is narrated by Ron Howard.
Special Feature: Rome Was Not Built In A Day Part One [1080p] [17:00] This feature addresses some basic areas, from production and an interview with the producer and the 2nd Unit director, through to costume design, production design, visual effects, editorial, music, and the conversion of a Hollywood Park lot to a large exterior square.
Special Feature: Rome Was Not Built In A Day Part Two [1080p] [17:00] This is another brief collection of interview snippets and behind the scenes footage. Here, we see materials about shooting on location in Rome, building the film’s sets, making costumes for hundreds of people in the depiction of Vatican City, the work of DP Salvatore Totino, and a look at the filming of a fire stunt sequence. I suppose you could put this together with the earlier Rome Was Not Built in a Day featurette and have a more complete view of the film. It’s puzzling why the two features were split apart in this fashion.
Special Feature: Angels & Demons: The Full Story [1080p] [10:00] This feature that discusses the casting of the film, and includes interviews with almost every major player in the film. “THERE ARE MAJOR SPOILERS IN THIS FEATURE.” There’s not a great depth of material here but mostly it’s just Ron Howard describing what a great actor is playing the part, and then the actor talking about what a great experience they had on the film.
Special Feature: CineChat: Send on-screen instant messages to your friends across the world while you watch the film together! An internet connection is required.
Special Feature: Movie IQ: While watching the film, this Blu-ray function allows you to bring up an on-screen trivia box, with information about each scene, from the cast to the musical score cue to the relevant part of Dan Brown’s book. There’s some interesting trivia here, but for the most part, I found this function to be limited in entertainment or informational value.
Finally, ‘Angels & Demons’ is an equally successful adventure romp to the earlier film ‘The Da Vinci Code.’ It doesn’t have a lot of substance to it, and the mystery does not hold up to much scrutiny, but it’s very well crafted and it’s beautiful to watch. Fans of Ron Howard and Tom Hanks will have a great time here. I expect that fans of Dan Brown’s book may or may not completely embrace this adaptation and there’s always an argument, but I had a great time with the film. I didn’t find a lot of depth to the special features here either, but there’s certainly enough material to keep fans occupied for an additional couple of hours past the viewing of the film, and some interesting material along the way. I would recommend a rental before purchasing, but this is still a fine HD transfer and a fun film to watch. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
While the Ron Howard adaptations proved mixed between critics, the audiences took well to these best-selling novel transitions to the big screen, combining fast paced action and myths and religion coming together to form eye-opening revelations and conspiracy theories. I believe it’s testament to the source material, but also having a blockbuster with brains; lots of links to the foundations of the past with religion, science and faith. These come together once more in this film sequel, but book prequel. It doesn’t matter which way you look at it, it can be seen before or after ‘The Da Vinci Code’.
With a more fast-paced narrative thanks to the hourly executions of the 4 cardinals and ticking time-bomb set to destroy Vatican City, ‘Angels & Demons’ doesn’t stop for breath as it moves along quickly from one set of clues and myths to the next, each time reminding you of the larger puzzle to be solved and including lots of tense moments from cat-and-mouse chases, grizzly murders and well spoken dialogue.
Tom Hanks is immediately likeable, as ever, as Langdon and is a great companion along the way to solve the mysterious as he narrates and speaks out loud to help the viewers keep up with his findings along the way. Ewan McGregor does little, but has a presence that is always there keeping things moving, along with the wonderful Ayelet Surer and Stellan Skarsgård in the good guy or bad guy role he does so well.
It may be too rich in religion for casual film fans, but behind the façade of the Christian faith that is presented here as a danger to the free-world, it actually is very clever in combining religion and science as two factors competing to convince the world that the other is a “defining” path for people to follow, when it all boils down to what people are made to believe. It’s not as heavy as it appears, and is full of great drama and tension and more brutal moments in the Extended Cut than the Theatrical that doesn’t add more to the story, but cranks up the severity and danger of the film itself.
A fine film which I think is too easy to bad-mouth due to the controversial subject matter, but this is a great thriller much like ‘The Da Vinci Code’ that will cater for those longing for a faster, more dangerous film than the previous. I for one hope the next Dan Brown novels featuring Robert Langdon, ‘The Lost Symbol’ and ‘Inferno’, are set to hit the big screen because the mystical draw to these adventures is too great to miss.
on 6 January 2014
Angels & Demons is a 2009 American mystery thriller directed by Ron Howard and based on Dan Brown's novel of the same name. As a film it is the sequel to the 2006 film, The Da Vinci Code, also directed by Ron Howard. The novel was published first and The Da Vinci Code followed it. Filming of Angels & Demons took place in Rome, Italy, and the Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California. Tom Hanks returns to play the lead role - Robert Langdon - as do producer Brian Grazer, composer Hans Zimmer and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman.
Under the watchful eyes of Father Silvano Bentivoglio and Dr. Vittoria Vetra, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) initiates the Large Hadron Collider and creates three vials of antimatter particles larger than any that have ever been produced before. Almost immediately, Father Silvano is killed and one of the vials of antimatter goes missing. At the same time, the Roman Catholic Church is mourning the sudden death of Pope Pius XVI in Rome and prepares for the papal conclave to elect the next Pope. The Camerlengo Patrick McKenna (Ewan McGregor) assumes temporary control of the Vatican. The Illuminati kidnap four of the 'preferiti' (the favourite cardinals to be elected pope) before the conclave enters seclusion and threaten to kill one candidate every hour and destroy all of Vatican City at midnight, using the missing vial of antimatter as a bomb. The Vatican summons symbologist Robert Langdon from Harvard University and Vittoria from CERN to help them save the four preferiti and locate the vial.
Although I had heard or read somewhere that the film adaptation of Angels & Demons wasn't as successful as that of The Da Vinci Code, I thought it was a very good follow-up even though the two stories are unrelated. I got this film as a Christmas present for my dad to accompany the Da Vinci Code DVD he already has, and he was really pleased to get it as we believe it to be just as good as The Da Vinci Code. Very highly recommended.
The first thing to say about this film is that, just as with the corresponding books by Dan Brown, it's better than The Da Vinci Code. But that didn't take much doing because the previous film was pretty awful. In the DVC - both book and film - everyone ran into rooms, pointed at something and immediately said what they were looking at so as to explain the complex plot to an audience of (supposedly) limited intelligence; the stunning difference with Angels & Demons is that everyone says what's going on while they're running around on their way into those rooms. The other major development is that Dr Robert Langdon (played by Tom Hanks) has had a haircut, definitely a step in the right direction after the absurd mullet he sported in the first film. Incidentally, although half the planet knows this already, the films have been made in a different order to the books, inasmuch as the book Angels & Demons was written first. This doesn't matter very much, but when you're struggling to find something important to say you do find yourself clutching at straws.
I know it's a long way to go before the esteemed Golden Raspberry Awards (the anti-Oscars) but I would like to nominate this film as a prime contender for Most Stupid Film of the Year. On Rotten Tomatoes, they said "the storyline too often wavers between implausible and ridiculous, and does not translate effectively to the big screen". I kind of expected this, having read the book some years ago, but I'm astonished that the producers and director have been able to re-create that idiocy with such dedication and commitment. In a story-line that was very probably rejected by the producers of the BBC's Doctor Who back in the black & white TV days of the 1960s, regarding it as too silly for the 11-year-old children of that era, a tube of anti-matter has been lost and is thought to be secretly buried somewhere in the Vatican - and somebody must find the tube before it explodes and rips a hole in the time-space continuum (not to mention nuking the Holy City of the Vatican) a task complicated by the appointment of a new Pope while the frantic search is going on. But in case this sounds too confusing for you, fear not because most of the words spoken by the monotonous Dr Langdon are little more than reading from the pages of the book in which he explains what's going on and why. Ostensibly he is talking to his female associate Ayelet played by actress Vittoria Vetra, but the truth is that it is all for the benefit of an audience assumed to lack any capacity for such intellectual calculations. These are two people who are experts on the subjects and issues under examination but they feel the need to constantly say out loud what should be plainly obvious to either one of them.
Actually, to draw comparisons with Dr Who is to do a dis-service to the great time lord, because much of the storyline from this film might still need to be beefed up in order to pass for one of the weaker Thunderbirds episodes, with its target audience of primary-school age children. They say action movies can be enjoyable because you don't have to think; well with this it's much the same (minus the enjoyment) because before you've had a chance to think about anything, Tom Hanks explains it for you. Who's the Pope? He's the head of the Roman Catholic faith. Where are they based? In the Vatican. Where's that? It's in Rome. Which is in Italy.
One commonality with the Da Vinci Code is that the first hour or so is snore-inducingly boring, but at least things change halfway through, because from there through to the end it becomes laugh-out-loud funny. This was not intentional of course, but that's the way it turns out, helped in no small part by Ewan McGregor's impossibly absurd Scottish-Italian-Northern Irish accent that shouldn't have a trace of Scottish or Irish in it at all, not to mention his helicopter-flying skills which wouldn't be the first hobby that comes to mind when you're thinking about a Vatican monsignor, and a Cardinal no less. I remember the 'leaping Langdon' helicopter stunt in the book and recall thinking it to be utterly ridiculous, it is beyond comprehension that the people behind this film would so much as consider reproducing it for the screen. But they did.
Although billed as a serious film, this would better fit the genre of such classics as Monty Python; I suspect that more than a few will laugh out loud at the moment of ultimate revelation, the 'let there be light' moment. And although not billed as an action movie blockbuster, who else but director Ron Howard could manage to turn a visit to the Vatican library into a nail-biting action scene, or the announcement of a new Pope? Much of this film, if not all of it, defies credibility or classification, but I would suggest that potential viewers will be best prepared if they expect a Pythonesque comedy drama. Call it Mission Impossible 4: Race to the Vatican, with Gerry Anderson writing the script (he of Thunderbirds fame by the way). This film, despite its guaranteed box-office success given all the hype surrounding it, is a real contender for Most Stupid Film Ever Made, it threatens to dethrone Exorcist II:The Heretic in that regard, and all I can say if you have read this far is: You have been warned. Wait three years and see it free on Channel 5 would be my advice!
DVD INFO (my copy, anyway)
# Format: Anamorphic, Dubbed, PAL
# Language English
# Subtitles: English, Hindi
# Region: Region 2
# Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
# Number of discs: 1
# No extras, only trailers
on 23 September 2009
Enjoyed this much more than I expected too. More thrilling with twists and turns in the plot than the first movie. Bluray picture was superb on 1080p 50" plasma and HD audio was was equally crisp. The extended version just seemed to have more blood and gore.
on 28 April 2011
Very good story about a crisis at the Vatican. Lots of twists and turns with historical referencing keeping the plot moving. The extra features on the blu-ray give more information about the history of Rome and the Vatican. Also some information about how the film was made.
on 2 June 2014
After watching The Da Vinci Code, I was unsure how the sequel Angels and Demons would turn out. I didn't think The Da Vinci Code was terrible; the first half I thought was really strong, but I felt the second half lacked a lot of the tension created in the first. Also Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou just didn't work well together; and of course who can possibly forget that terrible hairdo of Hanks'.
However after hearing that the Angels and Demons book is widely considered better than The Da Vinci Code novel, I decided to give it a shot, and while far from brilliant, in my opinion Angels and Demons is a far better movie with a better storyline, more tension and no bad hair days. Also the chemistry between Tom Hanks and Ayelet Zurer is far stronger than Hank's chemistry with Audrey Tautou.