Saturday, May 16, 2009

Angels and Demons

By Reymundo Salao

ANGELS & DEMONS is the film adaptation of the Dan Brown novel of the same title. Although in chronological sequence, this is a prequel to The Da Vinci Code, this movie’s script was adjusted so that it would be the sequel instead. The story begins when the Pope passed away and during this period of transition in the Vatican, four cardinals were kidnapped allegedly by the Illuminati, a mysterious underground movement of scholars, scientists, and radical intellectuals which was founded during the ancient times and was in conflict with the Catholic Church. Brought forth to help with the investigation of this cryptic crime, Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) was summoned along with Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer), a scientist whose antimatter experiment has been stolen by the Illuminati to be used as a bomb that is capable of destroying the entire Vatican City and perhaps the regions around it. Langdon and Vetra relentlessly search through mysteries in order to find the kidnapped Cardinals, the Illuminati, and the bomb that is set for cataclysmic annihilation.

Before I begin, I’d like to make it clear that I have not read the Dan Brown novel which this movie adapts. So I am not familiar with the characters or the storyline till only when I watched the movie & did additional research afterwards.

Both Da Vinci Code and this film Angels & Demons were directed by Ron Howard, who is indeed a good director. His style is fit for dramas and books like this because he is satisfactorily good at storytelling, but is almost devoid of any peculiar filmmaking style or signature. That is why he is good at adapting books. Because he will just interpret a story as it was written, and obviously won’t embed a personal directorial signature along with a faithful adaptation. This was more mystery action thriller. Oftentimes, the mood of the storyline felt like episodes from the popular TV series "24". The fluidity of the movie was also linearly simplistic because this was basically a "search for the kidnapper/s" and "hunt the killer" format combined, injected with elements of Christianity-based mystery and conspiracy theories. In comparison, while The Da Vinci Code movie (probably same with the book) was boring, slow, preachy and overhyped; Angels & Demons on the other hand, is more direct-to-the-point, thrilling, and fluid.

This film is actually less offensive to those religiously sensitive as compared to The Da Vinci Code which many devout Catholics view as a sort of heretic work of literature. So you can bring your Catholic lola to this one, with the condition that she is not a diehard religious. Because even though this was less offensive, it still does have few scenes that might piss off religious fanatics. This really is something for more open-minded Catholics.

Among the actors that stand out in this film, aside from Hanks, are Stellan Skarsgård as the head of the Swiss Guard and Armin Mueller-Stahl as Cardinal Strauss.(Cardinal Mortati in the novel). There wasn’t enough space in the storyline for Ayelet Zurer to impress us with her performance or even her existence as it felt like she was just a background character on this movie. As impressive Ewan McGregor is as an actor, in this movie though, his acting does not exactly hit the spot, as there are some moments where his performance felt awkward. It is as if he still had the Star Wars Prequel germs hanging in over him. Either that or it was actually intentional as to serve the storyline. I may be wrong in judging Ewan’s acting in this one.

Overall, ANGELS & DEMONS is an interesting and smart mystery-thriller. Its twists and turns can tend to be cliché but it does have its moments that surprise and slyly deceive its audience. My rating for this movie is that it really is satisfactorily good. It is neither grand nor awful. Although this was not very impressive, at least it does manage to make me love it, at least for the moment.


nikki said...

saw it last night...i havent read the book you said, sly...but not that sly...was ok, but left more to be desired...btw, wala review ang slumdog? been browsing the archives, couldnt find any...just curious...keep up the good work men...lamat

Reymundo said...

Hi Nikki!
i was not able to review Slumdog Millionaire coz the film was released in theaters here in the Philippines really late (i think 2 wks ago lang) i watched it sa dvd nlang & by the time i finished watching it na, Slumdog Millionaire was really really old news na & the good summer movies were already pouring in na. pero i'll try to slip it in :D thanks for visiting the site! :)

(by the way, r u d Nikki I personally know from here in Iloilo? curious lang)

the nikki from iloilo said...

yes manong, its me, d nikki from iloilo, d (dare i say it...dare!) groupie... i actually check out your blog a lot...keeps me in touch with iloilo...nah i was just wondering about your take on slumdog coz thought it was overhyped, didnt really think it deserved to be best pic...oh well, ihaw! keep uulitin

nikki said...

oh wait, am i the nikki i think you mean? how many nikki's do u know? i'm doy's sister...(i would say another distinction but i don't know who reads your blogs...)

Reymundo said...

hey HI! ikaw gd man gle :) nice to meet u here online, balikbalik lang a :)
if websites were like a resthouse, d least i can do is mgpabakal tu family na coks & pandesal, serbe sa imo :)
but do hangout here often :D