Tom Hanks reprises his role as Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, who once again finds that forces with ancient roots are willing to stop at nothing, even murder, to advance their goals. What terrifying discovery would make the Vatican turn to Robert Langdon, the man who cracked history's most controversial code? When Langdon discovers evidence of the resurgence of an ancient secret brotherhood known as the Illuminati "the most powerful underground organization in history" he also faces a deadly threat to the existence of the secret organization's most despised enemy: the Catholic Church. Upon learning that the clock is ticking on an unstoppable Illuminati time bomb, Langdon travels to Rome, where he joins forces with Vittoria Vetra, a beautiful and enigmatic Italian scientist. Embarking on a nonstop, action-packed hunt through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, deserted cathedrals, and even to the heart of the most secretive vault on earth, Langdon and Vetra will follow the 400-year-old Path of Illumination that marks the Vatican's only hope for survival.
Amazingly, this Angels and Demons, the Da Vinci Code sequel starring Tom Hanks, has received a surprisingly good review from the Vatican. The Church officials condemned The Da Vinci Code on its release in 2006, calling it "an offence against God" because it was based on the premise that Jesus married and fathered children. They banned the film-makers from shooting the sequel inside the Vatican, forcing director Ron Howard to reconstruct the settings in Los Angeles.
However, in its first pronouncement on the film, Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano described Angels and Demons as "harmless entertainment which hardly affects the genius and mystery of Christianity". While the "gigantic and smart commercial operation" is filled with inaccuracies and stereotyped characters, the camera work is "splendid", Howard's direction "dynamic and alluring" and the reconstruction of St Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel is "magnificent".
The film's success should prompt the Church to rethink the way it communicates its message, an editorial in the paper added, pointing out the"simplistic and partial" representation of the Church had captured the public imagination.
"It would probably be an exaggeration to consider the books of Dan Brown an alarm bell but maybe they should be a stimulus to rethink and refresh the way the Church uses the media to explain its positions on today's burning issues."
* Tom Hanks reprises his role as Professor Robert Langdon, a Harvard University professor of symbology.
* Ayelet Zurer plays Vittoria Vetra, a CERN scientist whose antimatter experiment has been stolen by the Illuminati to be used as a bomb.
* Ewan McGregor plays the Camerlengo Patrick McKenna.
* Stellan Skarsgård plays Commander Richter, head of the Swiss Guard.
* Pierfrancesco Favino plays Inspector Ernesto Olivetti of the Gendarme Corps of Vatican City State.
* Nikolaj Lie Kaas plays Mr. Gray, an assassin who believes he is working for the Illuminati.
* Armin Mueller-Stahl plays Cardinal Strauss, elector of the conclave.
* Thure Lindhardt plays Lieutenant Chartrand, officer of the Swiss Guard.
Despite of the controversy, I personally think Angels & Demons is surprisingly a good movie. The movie hangs loosely on the actual novel itself. Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon (Hanks) jets off to Rome after the Pope's sudden death and the re-election through Papal Conclave. Arranging all of this is the carmelengo, Patrick McKenna (McGregor). However, he soon learns of a new threat, one that involves a secret brotherhood making its presence known, an anti-matter time bomb that Vatican City is now targeted with and the kidnapping of four cardinals. Langdon, using his intellects (and trust me, you'll be hearing a LOT from it) is given the task of finding and rescuing them using the mysterious Path of Illumination. Aiding him on the quest is CERN scientist Vittoria Vetra (Zurer), who is also the co-creator of the anti-matter.
The movie itself runs at an uneven pace. One minute Langdon and the Swiss Guard are speeding to save a branded cardinal, the next minute he bores you with pointless information about every random object he passes, evidently slowing the book's much anticipated action/thriller sequences down. It makes for an interesting read on paper, but on screen it can go either way.
The character's are decently written onto the big screen. Ewan McGregor does a convincing performance as the quiet but knowledgeable Patrick McKenna, famous accent included. Tom Hanks is slightly more agile, intellectually and physically, since his last performance in the mediocre Da Vinci Code. Stellen Skarsgard plays Commander Richter, the straight-faced leader of the Swiss Guard. Unfortunately, neither his nor Ayelet Zurer's performance are worthwhile ones, and instead of playing a part in the story, they are just kicked aside as assets.
However, Angels & Demons accomplishes what DVC could never; a thrilling fast-paced movie filled with satisfying explosions, beautiful recreations of St. Peter's Square and Basilica (including many of the churches) and a pulsing bomb counting down the midnight hour. Ron Howard does a decent job at directing this second Langdon adventure, this time taking in much criticism and almost completely exchanging the boring dialogue for tense chases.
So overall, a good movie to be seen this year.