Wednesday, 23 September 2009

“Angels & Demons” – A Review of the 2009 Movie on BLU RAY.

“…Of Course God Sent You…”

There’s probably millions of physicists, theologians and hugely academic types out there who can’t wait to poo poo “Angels & Demons” - the sequel to Dan Brown’s ludicrously successful book and movie - “The Da Vinci Code” – I’m not going to be one of them.

While you wouldn’t call it a “Bourne-like” masterpiece in terms of non-stop plot and thrills, A&D gets damn close – and almost all of the time. Sequel or stand alone – it’s a brilliantly executed movie – and far, far better than its predecessor ever was, entertaining the weary pants off of you with real style, skill and panache.

To start with - “Angels & Demons” has the magic triple whammy – a really great cast who can bring gravitas to any part they play, a fantastically well-adapted screenplay from great source material (AKIVA GOLDSMAN and DAVID KOEPP who are both Oscar winners and nominees) and the best entertainment Director in the movie business today - RON HOWARD. I mean the guy just delivers time after time after time - “Frost/Nixon”, “Cinderella Man” and “Apollo 13” are among his superb former credits.

It goes like this (and every word of the following is Gospel)… There’s a plot to bring down the Catholic Church and replace it with an order based on science rather than faith, which may or may not have something to do with the ancient and mysterious cult of THE ILLUMINATI. Despite being purged centuries back by scared zealots in the Catholic Church, these are powerful people still in high places who have remained undetected down through the ages by the modern world – patiently waiting for their time of revenge. And an experiment in Switzerland has given them that chance.

TOM HANKS is back as the permanently po-faced Professor Langdon summoned by a devout priest (EWAN McGREGOR) to the holy city of the Vatican in Rome to protect the Catholic Church at a time of Papal re-election. A slick assassin who is prepared to carry out grizzly acts of torture (played chillingly by NIKOLAJ LIE KAAS) is killing off high-ranking Catholic cardinals in a countdown to an apocalyptical ‘light’ that will consume the throne of Christ’s church on Earth. And wouldn’t you know it, but poor old butter-brains Langdon has only 4 hours to work it all out and stop the end of…well the world frankly… Luckily he is ably aided by a particle-analyst in the shape of the leggy AYELET ZURER (it's a scientific fact that all lab scientists look like this woman – I swear). And on it goes….

It’s all utter knob of course, but the historical linking of actual statues, churches and symbols all over the city make you believe every cleverly preposterous word of it. Throw in the brilliance of actors like ARMIN-MUELLER-STALH as a Cardinal who may become the next Fisherman and STELLAN SKARSGARD as the head of the Vatican Police who trusts no-one including his employers – and you have enough diversions, red herrings and word-like genius to make the men who make up the British Government’s balance of payments forecasts positively blush with envy. It’s brilliant stuff – it really is - and every scene is filled with it.

Locations are all ace - the catacombs under the streets, the reproduced airtight Vatican Archives and the ornate rooms in sumptuous buildings all help the stew too - and the BLU RAY picture (no pun intended) is immaculate throughout. The extras are extensive too and add to the experience nicely (a huge amount of effort involved).

Whether or not you consider all organised religion to be a corrupting force or the very bedrock on which civilized society is based is not going to get talked about too much in “Angels & Demons” – the film is far too busy entertaining you for all that stuff ‘n nonsense…

But even the Dan Brown doubters out there will get up from their comfy chairs, brush the crisps and curry off their shirts and say, “…that was damn good!”

Recommended.

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