SMSM ’09 No. 11: Angels and Demons

June 24, 2009

angels and demons

There are people who love Dan Brown, and there are people who violently hate the little bastard and his entire semi-literate fanbase. There appears to be very little in between. Except me of course, since I don’t know enough about Brown to hate him. Though after finally watching Ron Howard’s adaptation of The Da Vinci Code, I realized that if I ever cared enough to pick up one of Brown’s middlebrow time wasters, I’d certainly fall into the latter camp.

Howard follows up Da Vinci with Angels and Demons, casting Brown’s earlier novel as a sequel, since most readers read Angels after the breakout success of The Da Vinci Code. Also because Howard knows his viewers are too stupid to understand a prequel. This is also why he explains every turn in the action like it’s a fucking Scooby Doo mystery.

That being said, Howard handles Brown’s franchise far better the second time around. The tone is far less pandering, and the plot (mostly centralized in terms of location and theme) is far less convoluted, this time focusing on a longtime Catholic Church enemy (the spooky sounding “Illuminati”) and their threat to bomb the Vatican while the College of Cardinals gathers to select a new Pope.

Angels has a beginning, middle, and end that at least make some degree of sense, which is more than can be said for its predecessor. This is really all Howard needed to worry about, and he mostly stays out of the way, letting Tom Hanks (reprising his role as symbologist Robert Langdon) and the rest of his troupe hop around Rome and do whatever it is that they do.

Howard has made a perfectly average movie, which, sadly enough, is a giant step up for the franchise.

Film: Angels and Demons
Director: Ron Howard
Stars: Tom Hanks, Ayelet Zurer, Ewan McGregor, Stellan Skarsgard

Viewing situation: Weekday matinee, medium crowd; digital projection
My grade (out of 10): 5
Rotten Tomatoes average: 37%

Next up: Terminator: Salvation

Summer Movie Suicide Mission ’09: Seeing them all, all summer long. Follow Summer Movie Suicide Mission on Twitter: @SMSM09.

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