Tom Hanks and director Ron Howard are back with the latest in a movie franchise born out of "The Da Vinci Code." While I did not like "The Da Vinci Code", I did find "Angels and Demons" to be a far superior movie for many basic reasons.
Like "The Da Vinci Code", "Angels and Demons" centers around Tom Hanks's Robert Langdon, a symbologist who is summoned to solve a murder involving the Catholic Church. This time the action takes place at the Vatican after the Pope dies, and the Illuminati threaten to kill four Cardinals as revenge for a time back in the sixteen hundreds where members of the Illuminati were publicly executed.
Langdon is called upon by the Vatican police and the Swiss Guard led by Stellan Skarggard ("Good Will Hunting") who detests Langdon. He is joined by Swiss Scientist Vittoria, played by Ayelet Zurer ("Munich") whose lab partner was murdered and a canister of antimatter was stolen. When the antimatter is put to dangerous use, the movie really kicks into high gear.
One of the biggest highlights of the film was the performance of Ewen McGregor ("Trainspotting", "Moulin Rouge", The Star Wars prequels") who plays the Pope's Camerlengo (second in command), Patrick McKenna. McGregor completely knocks this role out of the park by pouring heart and soul into this rigid character, highlighted by an impassioned speech to the Cardinals about combating the Illuminati and preserving faith over science.
The main reason why this film worked better than its predecessor "The Da Vinci Code" is that there is a greater sense of urgency. Lives are at stake and the tension is high throughout.
Plus, this film has so far retained some of its secrets through vague, well constructed previews, so the audience really gets a fresh look at it in the theater. Couple those mysteries with some thrilling action sequences and you've got yourself a movie. Most of all, I would recommend this movie solely based in the fact that Hanks finally looses that really bad haircut he had in the first film.
I had fun with this movie, and while I wouldn't necessarily put it first on my Christmas DVD list, it certainly will enter my collection at some point. It works as an alternative form of summer blockbuster.
If you're looking for family fun, this film will probably get lost on some of the younger members, so you might want to consider an alternative.
As always, thanks for reading. Stay tuned next week as I go to war with John Connor in "Terminator: Salvation".