Angels & Demons (Ron Howard) 2009 Minor Spoilers
You know a lot of people hated The DaVinci Code but I liked it well enough. Its by no means a great movie, but its not ass either. Its a standard follow the puzzle adventure movie which works well enough. You have a theory of the Catholic Church which is crackpot to say the least in real life but in terms of a fictional movie world works to add a sense of drama. Its not the greatest book ever or even a great movie, but if its on tv it holds my attention enough. So all the buzz I heard was the Angels & Demons was actually the better of the two books and a darker story I thought it might be good. Sadly this is the weaker of the two efforts by Howard.
The story is about a particle of antimatter which is stolen and if released from its protective case it will be like 9/11 times a million. Wait, before I go any further: antimatter!? Since when did Dan Brown write for Star Trek? Anyway, the pope is dead and the Vatican is in the process of voting for a new pope. Four of the best prospects are kidnapped and are going to be executed at 8,9,10, and 11 o clock of that night. At midnight, the group will detonate the antimatter making Vatican City a giant smoking hole in the earth. The group calls themselves the Illuminati, a group of Christian scientists who were persecuted by the Catholics and are now supposedly getting their revenge. Professor Robert Langdon is brought in to help read the symbols used by the Illuminati and hopefully determine their location of attack.
You would think with the hour deadlines there would be a sense of urgency to this story that drives the plot but it doesn’t really work. Its kind of hard to explain but it seems like Langdon is in some kind of time warp arbitrarily f*cks around with him. For example, we see one of the cardinals get killed and I think to myself “Oh, okay, now he’s got another hour to work with here. Plenty of time.” We will cut to a fakey shot of the Vatican then cut back to Langdon who does his Beautiful Mind impression and figures out the next clue in a snap and then I think to myself “Oh, that was quick! They will have no trouble saving the next cardinal from getting killed.” Then Robert will ask what time it is and the cop will say like five minutes till 9. WHAT!? We just cut an hour out without any explanation? I know we literally can’t show him thinking for an hour but you need to give us some impression of what he’s been doing or what his problem is. You just can’t time warp us without reason and then make it a balls to the wall chase to save the next cardinal. I suck at explaining this but believe me, it really feels like the movie is jerking us around.
I know I talked about the plot for DaVinci being crackpot, but the plot for Angels & Demons is just freaking stupid. I can give a lot in the name of mindless entertainment, but there are plot holes not even Jesus could repair. It makes my brain hurt. Not to mention the biggest problem is that in the end Robert really doesn’t achieve all that much that the authorities wouldn’t have figured out on their own. I mean he does DO stuff and he is not completely worthless, but for being a big franchise protagonist he could muster up a little more. Also, we really don’t learn anything about the Illuminati. We are so concerned with beating the clock and saving people that any kind of history or whatnot we learn is pushed away. The puzzles are absolutely worthless. It is literally Langdon finding statues created by a certain artist and the statues are usually pointing to the direction of the next church he needs to go to. This isn’t brain bending riddles or complex theory this is fucking connect the dots! Seriously, did we need the esteemed symbologist professor Robert Langdon for this? Anyone can follow statues pointing to the next freaking clue! You don’t need Sherlock Holmes for this. You don’t even need Larry Holmes. Oh, and the twist sucks too.
Another problem is that the movie is way too overproduced. We get CGI which is really really bad, unnecessary effects, and even the CSI/House “too much information camera”. Ron needed to chill the f*ck out, trust the source material, and make a more low key movie. Sometimes, less really is more.
During the movie I was just checking my watch waiting for the eventual BS twist and suffering through the poor writing. I hate it when you have intelligent people like the supposed genius PROFESSOR Langdon who can’t make intuitive leaps of logic that a two year old could make simply because the author is not talented enough to write himself out of the corner. So yeah, this movie felt like it was spinning its wheels in place for two hours and I was stuck watching it. A&D is bland and I had no fun with it.