Ashley’s Review : Angels & Demons

Before he cracks The Da Vinci Code, Professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks, this time sans Mullet) has to solve the mystery of who is killing the men eligible to become the next Pope.

Hanks and Ron Howard reunite for the highly anticipated follow-up (in the literary world, this one’s a prequel) to the smash-hit “Da Vinci Code” with “Angels & Demons” – and the good news is, this isn’t half as bloated, or languid, as the first flick.

Langdon, a symbologist professor that has been yearning to get his hands on Vatican papers for years, is called to Vatican City to help solve the mystery of who killed a physicist, and in turn stole anti-matter from an experiment the bereaved was working on. Langdon teams up with Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer) a physicist that also worked on the anti-matter project.

The Illuminati, an ancient group that set out to advance scientific thought and, as a result, the Catholic Church persecuted, is thought to be behind the killings. Langdon and Vetra run around Vatican City to try to find where each of the potential Pope’s are going to be killed in an effort to save them (The men are being killed in Church’s representing the four elements, earth, fire, air and water – symbols used by the Illuminati). One potential Pope is killed every hour, leading up to the detonation of the anti-matter capsule at midnight.

Aiding Langdon is Camerlengo Patrick McKenna (Ewan McGregor, making a surprise return to Blockbuster city) who tries to help stop the Illuminati.

“Angels & Demons”, though it lags a bit in the middle and could’ve been overall a bit pacier, is quite a thrilling ride. The scenes with the Pope’s being tortured and killed are, in particular, rather compelling and thrilling (did that sound too Charlie Manson?).

Howard’s much more on top of his game here. He’s managed to merge a great twist-filled story with some remarkable characters and some even more remarkable stunts. And if you haven’t read the book (at which case you’ll know how it all turns out), you’ll likely not guess the ending.

If Howard and Hanks reunite for a third film all I’d suggest is that they pick up the pace a bit. Though a better film than its predecessor, there are times when it starts resemble that original cinematic turd. Here’s a solution: ditch Akiva Goldsman, and hire Bob Orci and Alex Kurtzman to pen the next installment. You’ll thank me later.