Friday, August 14, 2009
Book to Movie Review: Angels & Demons
People tend to misunderstand Dan Brown a lot. First, there are people who read Brown's books as if they are history books. They most definitely are not. Secondly, there are people who do not realize what they are reading - fictional thrillers with elements of sci-fi and/or history. These people groan through the books, thinking they are ridiculous and stupid. If you belong to either one of these groups, you will not like Angels & Demons.
In its book form, Angels & Demons comes before The Da Vinci Code, which was adapted for the silver screen back in 2006. In its movie form, however, it plays as the sequel. After being involved in a big religious scandal that is at the core of Da Vinci, symbologist Robert Langdon is surprised when he is invited to Vatican to help them solve a mystery. It seems like a container of antimatter, a cluster of highly explosive particles has been stolen from a research laboratory in Switzerland and is now planted somewhere in the Vatican. This is thought to be a work of a long-forgotten secret society, the Illuminati. Also, the pope has recently died, and the four strongest candidates have been kidnapped.
The Da Vinci Code was a big commercial success, but it was butchered by the critics. This movie has been graded only slightly higher. In truth, it's much less faithful to the book than Da Vinci was. I was annoyed to see very much of the book's fascinating information about history, science and the city of Rome cut from the movie. On the other hand, there are also some moments from the book I was glad didn't make it into the movie - namely, Langdon's gravity-defying stunt. All in all, this movie is more focused on being accessible, fast and suspenseful. For the most part, it is. The special effects are impressive, the cast list is almost as good as last time, especially due to Ewan McGregor's enthused take on the role of the late pope's student, and it's just violent enough. However, I would have liked to see more flesh-and-blood characters (sadly, no Audrey Tautou, Alfred Molina, Paul Bettany and Ian McKellen this time around), as well as more history, cryptography and secrets.