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PHOTOGRAPHY

ANGELS & DEMONS

DVD review by David Blackwell

 

DETAILS:  138 minutes, four featurettes

VIDEO:   2.35:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen)

AUDIO:   English 5.1, French 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles:  English SDH, French

 

STUDIO:   Columbia Pictures/ Imagine Entertainment

Theatrical RELEASE DATE:    5-15-2009

DVD RELEASE DATE:   11-24-2009

 

STARRING Tom Hanks (Robert Langdon), Ayelet Zurer (Vittoria Vetra), Stellan Skarsgard (Commander Richter), Ewan McGregor (Camerlengo Patrick McKenna),   Armin Mueller-Stahl (Cardinal Strauss), Victor Alfieri (Lt. Valenti)

WRITTEN by David Koepp and Akiva Goldsman, based on the novel by Dan Brown

DIRECTED by Ron Howard

Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is brought to the Vatican after it is revealed an old organization (known as the Illuminati) appears to be back and they have kidnapped four of the top candidates to be the next Pope after the last one dies.   The Illuminati threaten to kill one of the four candidates at one an hour and destroy the Vatican in light at midnight.   A small amount of anti-matter has been stolen from the CERN particle accelerator and the Illuminati plan to use it as a bomb that Langdon and others (Vatican Police, Swiss Guard) must find before the batteries holding the containment field run down.   Also along for the ride is a scientist from CERN, Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer).  Langdon must decipher the clues to the path of Light that shows where the four cardinals will be killed and the final destination leading hopefully to the anti-matter before time runs out.

 

ANGELS & DEMONS in some ways is a better adaptation of a Dan Brown novel than THE DA VINCI CODE ever was.   Director Ron Howard energizes the film more this time round and keeps the action following.  The script is leaner and cuts out parts from the novel including a little character development between Langdon and Vittoria.   The main plot is still there.  The name of the Pope gives me a chuckle when I come to think of who is playing the Camerlengo.   I don’t know why the Vatican is up in arms about this film and refused to let the filmmakers shoot there.   Then again the Vatican has been a little too slow to change and thinks they can just put the Catholic Church in a good light.   The plot of ANGELS & DEMONS is just fiction.   Still I do think the film respects science and the church at the same time.     I don’t see anything the church should be offended about.  Some of the music score remind me of music in a Dario Argento film (I don’t know if Hans Zimmer was responsible for that or if it was the people who provided additional music on the film).

 

Tom Hanks slips back into Langdon’s character with ease as some of the other seasoned actors slip into their roles and run with what material is given them (Skarsgard and Mueller-Stahl).   Ewan McGregor does seem like a little bit of a weak link here.   Above all, ANGELS & DEMONS is a thrill ride.

 

SPECIAL FEATURES:

ROME WAS NOT BUILT IN A DAY- The director and crew reveal how they created the world of the film from production design to visual effects to how much visual effects were used in creating parts of the sets to the music.

WRITING ANGELS & DEMONS- The screenwriters and director Ron Howard discuss how they adapted the novel into a movie in addition to author Dan Brown providing a new clue not in the novel (for the screenwriters to use).

CHAARCTERS IN SEARCH OF THE TRUE STORY- the cast discuss the characters they play and one was changed from the book (to make him a nicer character).

CERN: PUSHING THE FRONTIERS OF KNOWLEDGE- a look inside the real CERN and featuring interviews with the real scientists who work there (in addition to interviews with Ron Howard and Tom Hanks).

 

The 2-disc addition and the Blu-ray feature the extended cut which is eight minutes longer.  Both have additional featurettes: HANDLING PROPS, ANGELS & DEMONS: THE FULL STORY, and THIS IS AN AMBIGRAM.  The Blu-ray features some BD Live content in addition to having both versions of the film and a digital copy.  There is a Target exclusive which includes the Theatrical Cut DVD.

 

FINAL ANALYSIS:  ANGELS & DEMONS is a better film than THE DA VINCI CODE.   The featurettes on CERN and production design (and visual effects) are my favorite of the extras.

 

This DVD review is (c)11-27-2009 and the movie review is (c)5-17-2009 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission.  Send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com