Tom Hanks reprises his role of Professor Robert Langdon who must, with the help of CERN scientist Vittoria (Ayelet Zurer), track down the missing anti matter from her laboratory before it explodes in Vatican City.
Following on from its cinematic predecessor The Da Vinci Code (it in fact being the first of author Dan Brown’s Langdon books) where Langdon was embroiled in a quest for the Holy Grail, Angels and Demons takes him to Rome where he must overcome the battle between science and religion in order to save the lives of the preferiti – the four people most likely to succeed the recently deceased Pope.
Tom Hanks’ performance shies away from his usual best whilst the decision to cast Ewan McGregor as the Camerlengo seems a somewhat unnecessary change from the book’s inclusion of an Italian Camerlengo. This marks just one of the changes that may disappoint fans of the novel. Omitting several crucial characters and changing key twists present in the book for a more cinema-friendly offering, the film loses the power and mastery that made the book so enjoyable. Although it strays further from its original novel than its cinematic predecessor it is both more gripping and action-packed than The Da Vinci Code.
The threat of the Illuminati’s power is not diminished by the film’s flaws and the race to save the lives of the four men abducted from the Vatican is enjoyable nonetheless. Director Ron Howard ensures the pace of the film reflects the intensity of Langdon’s mission whilst the scene where Langdon finds himself trapped in the Vatican archives achieves the potent exhilaration that was present in the book.
Langdon’s ability to capture cinema audiences hasn’t yet been run dry and with the latest Langdon book, The Lost Symbol, set for cinematic release in 2012, it is clear that the dependence of governments worldwide on his knowledge of ancient myths and symbology is set to continue.
An entertaining film, Angels and Demons provides thrills and chases but be warned, if you haven’t read the book do not watch the film with someone who has unless you want the film to be punctuated with tuts and sighs.
Best performance; Armin Mueller-Stahl as Cardinal Strauss.
Best bit; Any one of the discoveries of the kidnapped preferiti.
After being banned from filming inside its grounds, the production team had to build a scale replica of St. Peter’s Square.