Friday, May 15, 2009
REVIEW: Angels and Demons...
There are many things that intrigue me in this world.
Two of which happen to be religion and a good mystery. Therefore, you can understand why I was excited to see the first adaptation of a Dan Brown film, The DaVinci Code. Then, as many of you did, I saw it. That's all I will allow myself to remember from that viewing.
However, when the first full trailer for the newest Dan Brown adaptation, Angels and Demons, was released, I found myself intrigued once again. Illuminati, a film in and around the Vatican and Rome, and Tom Hanks all could have played into that interest. Now, the film has been released, and while it's better than The DaVinci Code, that's not saying much. It's like saying what's better, spontaneously combusting, or throwing yourself on a bomb.
Angels and Demons brings back Harvard Symbologist Robert Langdon to solve a mystery spanning centuries. When the Vatican discovers evidence of the resurgence of an ancient brotherhood, The Illuminati, who have kidnapped four high level priests. This is at a most inopportune time, as it has only been two weeks after the death of the Pope, and the four priests kidnapped are the high pontiffs. However, that may not be the biggest problem. A tube containing a piece of antimatter has been stolen and placed somewhere in the vicinity of the Vatican, and is set to go off before the day ends. Joining forces with Vittoria Vetra, a stunning Italian scientist, the duo embarks on a nonstop thrill ride into sealed crypts, cathedrals, and the bottom of my toilet as I flush this film out of my memory.
This film is not all flaws however.
The only real star of this film is the setting. I've always wanted to go to Rome, and this film just throws more want onto that fire. Salvatore Totino's cinematography here is stunning. It allows the action on screen to sort of play second fiddle to the setting in which this is all taking place, allowing for a more immersing experience.
This is the newest film from director Ron Howard, and while he does have some great films in his canon (Splash, Cinderella Man, A Beautiful Mind and Frost/Nixon to a lesser extent), this film is not one of his best. Over the years, his direction has become much more self important and really striving for importance within his film. Instead of allowing the action on screen to take place, he puts his hands all over it, and takes your focus off of the things going on in the frame, and places it on what the frame itself is doing. Sure, there are some flashes of greatness, particularly the chases within the catacombs and tight hallways, but they are to few and far between.
The acting is fine, as everyone pulls there weight. Hanks is the true star of the cast, as it really is a joy to see him on screen. He fits the role perfectly, and while some of his scenes are flawed, they are not particularly flawed because of him. The script is far to talky, and not in a good way. It doesn't allow Hanks to use his insane amount of charm and wit, and leaves a cold but intelligent carcass of a man. Ewan McGregor is alright, but a bit miscast, as I think it's to awkward of a role for him. He doesn't really fit, and I think this film would have done better if he was more of a lesser name, such as the role of Vittoria was. Ayelet Zurer was Vittoria, and she was the right bit of intelligent and also innocent, as it is her research "to bring new sources of energy", that instead of making the world better, ultimately killed many people.
The true flaw of this film doesn't come in the acting, the look, or the score (which is haunting by the way), but it's the story itself.
There is a fine line between plausible and implausible, between the suspending of belief and suspending of enjoyment. This film decides to take that line, and throw it to the wolves. It toes the line of implausible and ridiculous, treading both for the majority of the film. Whether it be silly escapes used simply for a laugh, or media outlets falling for a fake reason of a priests death, even though the mans lungs were punctured (you'll see what I mean when you see the film), it is almost laughable.
However, the biggest sin of this film is the potential it had.
This film is a humorless piece of drek, that strives to be weighty and intelligent, and while it does have elements for that, it leaves them for gags and action. There are elements in the film that hints at the possibility of a commentary on the state of religion today, the possibility of coercion between science and faith, and even the corruption of faith in the modern world, that seeing it end as a film so brainless, it just left a sour taste in my mouth.
The best comparison I can make to this film is that it is much more National Treasure than it is Doubt, and while it IS a Summer movie, it also ISN'T interesting.
The film forces the story to be as deep as See Spot Run, and not as deep as what the book this film is based on is. It moves from Point A to Point B at a break neck speed, which doesn't allow for any of these issues, that are even blatantly referenced within the film, sink in. The only thing keeping me interested on the screen and idea of walking out of the theatre is the cinematography. This film is like a model. Stunning to look at, brain melting to try and talk to.
The mystery, while implausible and completely ridiculous, may be more well paced and action packed than the DaVinci Code, the film is flawed on every level. Minus the score and cinematography, this film is full of interesting ideas and hits on none of them. Do not see this film.
ANGELS AND DEMONS - 3/10
After the brilliance of Star Trek, to see a film like this is not only a let down, but a stark reminder that while we get films like Trek and Watchmen, we also get films like this.
Go see something good!
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