Sunday, May 17, 2009

Angels & Demons

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Da Vinci Code Sequel as Disappointing as Original

Between its preposterous storyline and its blasphemous revisionist history, the highly-anticipated screen adaptation of The Da Vinci Code was the most over-hyped disappointment of 2006. Although there’s been a lot less buzz surrounding this sequel, Angels & Demons, nonetheless, offers a cinematic experience which is equally underwhelming.
Based on the Dan Brown best-seller of the same name, the film was directed by Ron Howard and stars Tom Hanks who reprises his role as Harvard symbologist Dr. Robert Langdon. Howard assembled an international ensemble which included Scotsman Ewan McGregor, Prussian Armin Mueller-Stahl, Israeli Ayelet Zurer, Dane Nikolaj lie Kaas, Italian Pierfrancesco Favino and Swede Stellan Skarsgard. Skarsgard, by the way, recently trashed the book while on tour supposedly promoting the movie. Not a good omen.
Anyhoo, at the point of departure, we learn that the Pope has just passed away and that the College of Cardinals is convening in Vatican City to pick his successor. However, before the conclave can arrive at a consensus, the four favorites to ascend to the papacy are abducted by a madman who announces plans to execute them one-by-one, beginning at 8 PM.
With time being of the essence, Dr. Langdon is summoned from Cambridge to Rome by the Vatican because of a cryptic note left by the Cardinals’ kidnappers. Interpreting the hieroglyphics, he identifies the crime to be the work of the Illuminati, a vengeful, secret society of heretics who have been at odds with the Church for hundreds of years.
Meanwhile, a team of scientists at CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) collaborating on an atomic collider in Switzerland successfully harnesses anti-matter capable of unlocking the secret to the moment of creation in three separate containers. However, an intruder immediately breaches security, kills a member of the research team, and escapes with a vial slated to explode at the stroke of midnight.
Soon, Professor Langdon lands in Europe, where he teams up with veteran Inspector Olivetti (Favino) and the beautiful, if vapid, Vittoria Vetra (Zurer), a colleague of the man murdered at CERN. The intrepid trio proceeds to unravel a multi-layered mystery which, of course, has the two incidents they’re investigating conveniently dovetail together.
Again and again, the terminally-loquacious Langdon proves to have an uncanny knack for deciphering precisely what every inscrutable mark and message means, as each discovery invariably only confirms another one of his cockamamie conspiracy theories. Lucky for him, the constant claptrap never annoys the wide-eyed Vittoria (only the audience), even if he has a bad habit of uncovering clues too late to save the cardinals. But the question remains whether they’ll be able to recover the canister of anti-matter before it detonates and lays waste to the Vatican. Too bad, this dud is so inadvertently funny, there’s absolutely no tension in the theater when the moment of truth arrives.
A farcical, farfetched, patience-testing, 2½-hour insult to the intelligence. And I had assumed President Obama had signed a law banning torture!

Poor (0 stars)
Rated PG-13 for violence, mature themes and disturbing images.
In English, Italian and Latin with subtitles.
Running time: 138 minutes
Studio: Columbia Pictures

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