Angels and Demons mounts the visuals the way I imagined them while reading the Dan Brown novel. That part is impressive. The suspense part that hooked me to the book gets lost in the film adaptation though. For a movie based entirely around a beat-the-clock goal, the momentum is significantly lost and the far-fetched plot surfaces even more, without enough packed intensity and make-believe aspect that the novel actually offers to its readers.
It’s a challenge to keep up with such a story to be mounted from a book into a moving picture. With the kind of plotting and the pretty good utilization of the medium for the novel, translating it into a two-hour audio-visual flair is really a tough path to take…
Angels and Demons is quite faithful to the book (a pretty good book that one can hardly put down). It is a given that the story is hard to completely translate into a film. Everything in the book is in tact and with a full, solid grasp. If the suspense and emotional engagement were built up much more in the movie adaptation, the plotting and suspense-filled moments could have been more effective.
For those who have probably read the book, the film becomes quite a let down in terms of general execution; but what gets the audience interested enough is its technical selling point. The combined footage shot in film and in HD are slick and seamless. The technical merits are pretty solid.
The film’s strong points as a commercial cinematic offer is that it combines religious, scientific, political, art, historical, and academic issues in one package; thus, making it an entertaining blend capturing many kinds of moviegoers. The grounding in the debate about science versus religion is laid down in a good line.
There are admittedly handsome production values in the film. The recreation of St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel is a production achievement that will sure keep the viewers’ attention to what’s on screen. Director Ron Howard puts a wonderful piece of seamlessly mixed real locations and beautifully detailed sets. However, he doesn’t go much beyond Langdon running and talking and thinking and running. The characters don’t progress as much as the plotting. And the screenplay from David Koepp and Akiva Goldsman becomes a too talky affair where most things are explained through dialogues instead of letting the other aspects of the film such as characterization, acting, and visuals do the work.
Like the Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons is filled with such far-fetched storylines that can either get the audience instantly drawn into it or let them completely dismiss it as another convoluted adaptation. But overall, as a long ordeal about scientific and religious conspiracies and double crosses, it is still an improved material if compared to the Da Vinci Code.
Tom Hanks plays a considerably better Professor Langdon here than in Da Vinci. However, he needs to run fast here and there almost every time here that he is left stranded and unable to utilize his acting skills well to turn the one-dimensional Langdon into a better character. Ayelet Zurer makes a convincing enough Vittoria Vetra and this shows that it doesn’t have to be always a more familiar or famous actress/actor to make a character work (the originally cast for Vetra was Naomi Watts). Ewan McGregor makes a decent Camerlengo Patrick McKenna. Nikolaj Lie Kaas as the assassin and Pierfrancesco Favino as Inspector Olivetti work pretty well for their roles.
Overall, Angels and Demons can pass time reasonably well as an in-flight entertainment or as a DVD or Blu-ray offer.