Angels & Demons is the adaptation of Dan Brown‘s book [my review here], directed by Ron Howard, written by Akiva Goldsman and David Koepp, starring Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellan Skarsgard and Armin Müller-Stahl.
Before I seriously review this thing: Expect a lot of Ewan McGregor in this post (picturewise) and as little Tom Hanks as possible. Gotta keep myself motivated.
At CERN a scientist is killed and antimatter is stolen, therefore Vittoria Vetra [Ayelet Zurer], phyisicist at CERN, travels to the Vatican, where the antimatter turns up. At the same time, Robert Langdon [Tom Hanks] is called to the Vatican as well to help out with the disappearance of four cardinals by the Illuminati. Together, they have to solve several puzzles to save the Vatican and the ongoing papal elections and probably life, the universe and everything.
People, people, I didn’t expect much from this movie, but it sucked sososo much… I mean, Ron Howard? Usually knows how to make a movie. Akiva Goldsman? Usually knows how to write one. Not this time. Add to that the catastrophic source material, the utter miscast that was Tom Hanks and the general yawn-feel about the whole thing and you’ve got yourself one craptastic film.
Okay, first: here’s what they got right:
Ewan McGregor. When I read the book, and the description of the camerlengo I immediately thought of McGregor. He was really the perfect cast. [And he’s so adorable.] Here’s the passage [just ignore the barf-inducing prose]:
He looked to be in his late thirties, indeed a child by Vatican standards. He had a surprisingly handsome face, a swirl of coarse brown hair, and almost radiant green eyes that shone as if they were somehow fueled by the mysteries of the universe.
The Assassin. In the book, it doesn’t make much sense that the Assassin should be one of the hassassins and completely convinced by the Illuminati mission. It’s much better for him to be a mercenary who is hired and just does what he’s paid for. And they manage to remove all the interesting stuff about his character from the book, but him still being interesting. Plus: Nikolaj Lie Kaas – pretty hot.
Now: What they completely fucked up.
The script. How you can take a Dan Brown book and actually make it worse? Ask Akiva Goldsman and David Koepp. Seriously. They cut all the things that made sense in the book and left us with a big pile of what the fuck. Why murder the cardinals in such a striking way if you don’t notify the media? And why leave the camerlengo without any motivation whatsoever? And Vittoria… admittedly, in the book she was clearly a sidekick. But she was a sidekick with brains and with her own agenda and she contributed. In the film she mostly stands around.
At the same time they kept all the parts of the book that were ridiculous in the first place. [Except for three things: They removed the scene with the finding out about Bernini thingy, the scene where they first learn the poem by heart and then rip out the page of the priceless manuscript and Langdon’s miraculous survival of jumping out of a helicopter.]
Tom Hanks. I can just stress again and again that Tom Hanks sucks as Robert Langdon. Langdon himself is definitely a Gary Stu, but I can live with that. But seeing Tom Hanks as a sexy professor? Who are we kidding, exactly?
The direction. I’m sorry to say that, Ron Howard, I really am. But what exactly where you on when you shot that movie? Shaky cam, confusing cuts, obvious, spoilery camera-lingering, the whole lot. Very disappointing.
Summarising, this was so much worse than it had to be, it’s really very sad. Recommended only to Dan Brown fanatics.