When Ron Howard released his adaptation of Dan Brown's controversial book The Da Vinci Code a few years ago, the reaction from both critics and fans was "meh." It was a flat, uninteresting film that featured Tom Hanks' worst hairdo in years. Flitting from boring mystery to boring mystery, its self-indulgent, almost 150-minute run time killed any moments that were fun.
However, in adapting Brown's prequel to The Da Vinci Code (they switch the timelines so that this one takes place after the events of the first film), Howard has managed to make a far more entertaining and fun movie that, even if the run time is still far too long, keeps the pace extremely high and subsequently the film rarely gets boring. The Da Vinci Code took itself very seriously, which is part of the reason it fell flat on its face, but Angels & Demons is the counter to that. There are definitely moments where it does indulge in being overly preachy and in-your-face with some of its messages, but for the most part this is a big, silly conspiracy blockbuster that really entertains.
Taking place after the events of The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons catches up with symbologist Robert Langdon who is called in to help the Vatican after a dangerous amount of anti-matter is stolen and is being used as a threat by the mysterious Illuminati to destroy the Vatican, taking half of Rome with it. Using his knowledge of symbols and history, Professor Langdon must work against the clock to solve the mystery of where the anti-matter bomb is being kept before it's too late.
There will undoubtedly be another controversy over Angels & Demons as there was with The Da Vinci Code, most likely over the scenes of violence relating to the Catholic church, even if they aren't the ones being portrayed committing that violence. But as any movie should be, Angels & Demons should be treated as that — just a movie — and not be taken so seriously. It may have been the case with Da Vinci that the movie took everything too seriously, but here it's another story. Even if it's shrouded in a confrontation with religion and science (in one of its moments of being overly preachy, one character points out that the two shouldn't be enemies), at its core it's a silly movie... and it knows it.