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Movie Review: Angels and Demons

Alternate Title: Sturm Und Drang

Story: Il mio dio! What hath director Ron Howard done this time? The novel by Dan Brown (which preceded his Da Vinci Code) was brought to the big screen by David Koepp and Akiva Goldsman. And what a mess it is.

The Pope has died and the Cardinals have gathered to elect a new Pope. Not an easy task when four of the top contenders are kidnapped by a 16th century group known as the Illuminati. The Illuminati were enlightened Catholics who were forced to go underground because of their attempts to believe in both science and religion and they are apparently still pissed. They are back to reclaim their rightful place and to destroy the Church with a stolen vial of anti-matter via a tremendous explosion. They will murder one of these four Cardinals each hour before they blow up the Vatican. Oh oh.

In comes symbologist Robert Langdon to save the day. In a mad scramble to figure out where these Cardinals are being held he chases up and down stairs, through winding Roman streets, into tunnels and attics looking for one Bernini or Raphael clue after the other. In the process he gets oxygen deprived, almost burns up and nearly drowns. What a guy. He is accompanied by a woman who helped create the anti-matter. Confused? Does it matter?

The bright spot was that it never hurts to see Rome (even when most of it is at night). The art always looks fine and those wonderful churches are visually striking. The bad news is that every character is either a stereotype, lifeless or both. And to top it all off - they changed the ending from the book. For some cockamamie reason they added 20 minutes of nonsense to the end of the film leaving me to scratch my head and wonder why they needed to do that.

That said - if you like a summer chase film, check it out. But be warned, it is very disappointing.

Watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcE8QaKiTGk

Acting: Tom Hanks as Prof. Robert Langdon, is just not an action hero. I did not buy his role for a moment. Ewan McGregor as Camerlengo Patrick McKenna, made me laugh. I kept thinking he was going to break out in song as he did in Moulin Rouge. Ayelet Zurer as Dr. Vittoria Vetra (the lone female), had a useless role. Stellan Skarsgard as Commander Richter, is always scary as is Armin Mueller-Stahl (Cardinal Strauss). Nikolaj Lie Kaas as the Assassin/Mr. Gray was interesting but his role never is truly explained.

Trivia: Ayelet Zurer is one of the most acclaimed of Israeli actresses and is sometimes referred to as the ice princess due to some of her roles. Nilolaj Lie Kaas is the son of actor and comedian Preben Kaas and Anne Marie Lie. Both his parents have committed suicide. He is the only actor to have won three Bodil Awards before turning thirty.

Predilection: I found the book to be entertaining.

Soundtrack: The music by Hans Zimmer was pounding, loud and over the top. Those deep choral male voices always announcing the impending Apocalypse was too often repeated.

Opening Titles: Some ritualistic stuff about the dead Pope and then the title. All other credits are at the end.

Visual Art: As I said above - Rome is glorious and you cannot ruin that no matter what you do to the movie.

Theater Audience: About eight other people (two left about halfway through).

Weather: It is a lovely evening in Rome.

Squirm Scale: There is an eyeball in the beginning that made me squirm.

Drift Factor: I did not drift (but should have).

Oscar Worthy: NO

Big Screen or Rental: Neither

Length: Two hours and 20 minutes.