Angels & Demons (2009)

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?

Angels-Demons-movie-06More men should wear dresses. The only good thing about the catholic church.

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.


  1. The script I agree with, I can’t believe they did so much damage to it, although I actually did enjoy the first book, even if I didn’t consider it high literature. But Tom Hanks-well, sexy professor might be too much, but I really didn’t think he was all that badly cast. He’s not outrageously handsome, but he’s hardly unattractive. And it’s not like he has to act in a particularly macho role, anyway.

    • It’s not that I’m saying that Tom Hanks is ugly, but attractive? Not in my universe.

      Of course, to each their own. Maybe I’m the only who thinks that Tom Hanks just isn’t good-looking. Which of course says nothing about his acting talent, but it makes suspension of disbelief kinda hard, when you got young, beautiful women swooning left and right over him.

  2. You forgot the awesome German! How hard could it have been? One coffee-break, going over to Armin Müller-Stahl to ask: “Could you read this over? Fix it, perhaps? Just so Stellan doesn’t have to make an ass of himself, you know…Thank you so much, that coffee’s on me.”

    One problem solved. 665 left to go.

    • True… the minute I posted it I thought “crap, I forgot to mention the abysmal German, save for the one guy who was actually Swiss” but then I didn’t have the time to change it and I thought – rightly, as I may point out – that you’d do the mentioning for me. ;)

      *le sigh*

      There seem to be no German people in Hollywood at all… there’s so much mangled German I had to listen to already…

      • You know me too well ^^

        I have flashes of people like Armin Müller-Stahl (or Sandra Bullock, or anyone else who actually, you know, *speaks German*) speaking German for a role and getting yelled at on set for doing it wrong.

        “Cut, cut, CUT!!! Sandra, darling, we talked about this. When the script says ‘German’ we don’t *actually* want you to speak German. We’re aiming for foreign-sounding gibberish. That’s how you make a good movie. Think Chaplin in ‘Great Dictator’. Can you do that for me, darling? Yes? Thank you, let’s try this again.”

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