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Friday, May 29, 2009

Angels and Demons

**** Angels and Demons. Mystery, action/adventure.

Directed by: Ron Howard.
Starring: Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellan Skarsgard, Armin Mueller-Stahl

We saw this last night at the theater on post. It was packed again--I think it's because the chapel, which is right across the street from the theater, has a Bible study or something that ends at 6:30 on Thursday evenings. We might want to re-think going to the movies on Thursdays, at least if they're popular ones.

I read the book years ago, but I remembered absolutely nothing, so it was like coming to the movie cold. I love convoluted plots like this, though--centuries-old clues, conspiracies, secret societies, and plenty of twists.

Briefly, despite the events in The DaVinci Code, the Vatican turns to scholar Robert Langdon when it appears the Illuminati have resurfaced and are bent on retribution. They've stolen a canister of antimatter and are threatening to use it to destroy Vatican City--after they execute the four cardinals most likely to be chosen as the next pope (the previous pope has just died).

Tom Hanks was, once again, just right for the character of Robert Langdon, and Ewan McGregor was perfect as Camerlengo Patrick McKenna. Stellan Skarsgard as Commander Richter of the Swiss Guard was convincing yet frustrating, since he quite obviously doesn't trust Langdon. And it's always good to see Armin Mueller-Stahl, here portraying Cardinal Strauss, a senior cardinal, but not one of the favorites.

It's a good thing I didn't remember the book, because the twists had me going. I had whodunit pegged fairly early on, but I kept changing my mind, as certain characters started looking more or less likely.

It wasn't perfect--I thought the Vatican turning to Langdon was insufficiently explained, though it may have been clearer in the book. Likewise with the scientist Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer), whose purpose in the movie was.... to replace the batteries on the antimatter canister? She worked on the project that produced the antimatter, and discovered the theft and the murder of her colleague. But there was no reason at all for her to be tagging along on Langdon's researching. She wasn't a historian, and didn't have any expertise to offer in the archives. Again, maybe it was better explained in the book, but I got the distinct impression that she was solely there for a female presence--eye candy. And maybe for a slight red herring, though I'm annoyed enough that I'm tempted to put down her guilty looks as bad acting. The young Swiss guard (Thure Lindhart) made a much better sidekick. Oh, well. At least they didn't try to turn her into a romantic interest.

All in all, a fun and exciting way to spend a couple of hours, and a good excuse to eat popcorn.

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I read the book last year, and iirc, Vittoria was along because she was the adopted daughter of the priest/scientist who headed the anti-matter experiments.

Also, the movie is a sequel, but the book was a prequel, to The DaVinci Code. That might explain some of your confusion.

-- Dawn, Cherry Cordial
Aha! The prequel/sequel thing helps a lot--thanks!
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