Angels and Demons (2009)

The movie adaptation of Dan Brown bestseller ‘The Da Vinci code' hit the movie theatres in 2006 and was an instant hit. The movie accumulated cool $758 millions worldwide making it one of the top hits that year. The critical response though was mixed. Many complained that the film falls miles short of the original novel. Ron Howard that time didn't bring in many changes into the script and the film was an honest adaptation of the novel despite whatever critics stated.

In 2009 the much awaited sequel (in reality a prequel) of ‘The Da Vinci code' ‘Angels and Demons' finally arrived. This time there were no big controversies, no major hype and no big expectations since this particular novel by Brown falls way behind ‘The Da Vinci code' in popularity and sales. Before moving ahead, I would like to present the story of the film before you. Even those people who have read this novel are requested to read the synopsis of the film before going through rest of the review.

The film begins with the scientists at European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) successfully completing the LHC experiment and capturing 3 vials of Antimatter. One of them Father Silvano is found dead by his research partner Dr. Vittoria Vetra with one of his eyes missing. It seems someone killed him and to gain entry into the lab took out his eye for retina identification. Soon Vetra comes to know that one of the vials of antimatter is missing.

Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is visited by one of the officials from Vatican asking him to come immediately with him to the Vatican City. Upon reaching Vatican Robert comes to know about the urgency to call him. Pope had passed away a few days earlier only and the selection of new pope is to be done on that day. All the cardinals are present there for this purpose with the eyes of the whole world upon Vatican. Media as well as people from different parts of the country have assembled in the Saint Peter's Square to catch the first glimpse of the new pope. The problem is that all the 4 candidates have been kidnapped unknown to the world by an old secret society known as ‘Illuminati'.

‘Illuminati' is a clandestine organization of the people who believe in Science and hold an old grudge against the church for the tortures they had inflicted upon them. Now ‘Illuminati' has threatened to kill each candidate every hour beginning from 8 p.m. till 11 p.m. and then annihilate the whole Vatican at midnight. The presence of Dr. Vetra tells us that Antimatter has been brought to the Vatican and has been kept at a secret place with a camera showing the glowing vial in complete darkness. Both Robert and Vetra have been called to find the missing cardinals and the antimatter vial respectively. The batteries of vial need to be changed before midnight otherwise antimatter would get in contact with matter destroying everything in Vatican.

In the Vatican Robert meets Camerlengo Patrick who was an associate of old pope and now is the temporary head of the Vatican. He asks Robert to find the cardinals as soon as possible. Langdon also meets the commandant of the Swiss guards Commander Richter who doesn't like Langdon meddling in the internal affairs of Vatican but agrees to support him upon being pressurized by Camerlengo. Robert soon deduces the places where the cardinals would be killed and he along with Vetra and other police men get on the mission to rescue the cardinals as well as trace the missing vial before it is too late.

I am not putting the entire story here as it may spoil the fun for those who haven't read the novel because it is essentially a suspense thriller. The story so far is very interesting and everyone would agree with me. After all Dan Brown didn't become a top author just like that. The film continues to take the viewers on the same kind of thrill ride further too, but only those viewers who have not read the novel. The fans of the film are utterly disappointed as the film progresses. I, being a big fan of this novel, was aghast to see many vital changes being made into the plot and characters.

The film omits the part of Langdon's visit to CERN and shows him directly in Vatican post his interaction with the official. The omission of this part was understandable but there are many more unexplainable changes. The biggest being the change of character of assassin hired to kill the 4 cardinals on the behalf of Illuminati. In the novel the killer is called Hassassin and is of Middle-east origin. But in the film he has been replaced by a Mr. Gray who is a white male. That was the biggest shock because those who have read novel were definitely waiting for this character's entry on the screen. In the novel he stands tall and somewhere outperforms Silas of ‘Da Vinci Code' with his calculated cold-blooded moves. In the film Mr. Gray doesn't impresses at all and even dies in a totally different way. There is no combat between Langdon and him as shown in the novel.

The character of Camerlengo has been messed up too. In the novel his character is quite complicated and one of the best written. But in the film he has been reduced to a mere shadow of the character in the novel. The omission of his relations with the pope meant that a lot of zing of this character was already lost and then the script reduces him to just one more forgettable role. The film also brings changes towards the end and so the ending is different at a no. of places.

Howard was criticized a lot for ‘The Da Vinci Code' for making that film too difficult for understand for those who haven't read the novel. So this time he traverses different path and keeps the proceedings as simple as he could, but in this process all the complexities and rich characterization of the novel is gone. Unlike ‘The Da Vinci Code' this film is a big disappointment for Dan Brown fans.

But for those who haven't read the novel and are hardly aware of the liberties the director had taken in changing the key characters and plots would hardly complain since the film is a niche thriller. The film moves on good pace from the initial few minutes itself and it never slackens. Unlike its prequel, long dialogues and explanations have been avoided and any thing which is difficult for a general viewer to understand has been left out.

Visually film is brilliant. The Vatican City and Rome has been captured beautifully in the film. Watching the old historical monuments and architecture is a treat in itself. Computer graphics too are very rich and the explosion sequence of antimatter is superb. The kind of catastrophe antimatter can cause is discussed many times in the film and the sequence shows it very well as shockwaves from the explosion rattle the people waiting in the open for the announcement of the selection of new pope.

The film misses out on characterization as I have already mentioned above. So, unlike ‘The Da Vinci Code', there is nothing much to mention about acting department, though the fault lies with the script writer rather than the actors. Everyone, from Tom Hanks to Ewan McGregor, look ok.

The film can be rated on 2 scales. For the loyal fans of Dan Brown the film's rating is 2.5 stars. For those who haven't read the novel, the film is a good thrill ride and so I give it 3.5 stars.


Author: Selva Kumar01 Sep 2009 Member Level: Silver   Points : 1

Tom Hanks acts very well. The city Rome is picturised superbly. If those who are not able to visit Rome, this film is a good treat for them.

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