Well, so long as screenwriter David Koepp doesn’t try to pen another Indiana Jones flick, he might actually do okay. Take his latest writing effort for example: Angels & Demons, the adaptation of Dan Brown’s controversial novel of the same name. Originally, Angels & Demons’ script was scribbled out by Akiva Goldsman — who also wrote the Hollywood version of Brown’s other controversial novel, The Da Vinci Code.
Now, as anyone who read The Da Vinci Code and then saw director Ron Howard’s movie can tell you: Akiva Goldsman is a very wretched writer. If you need further proof, copies of his epically bad Batman & Robin, Lost In Space, and I, Robot are available in bargain bins in just about every video store known to man. Fortunately, when there was that whole Writers’ Strike thingy in 2007 and 2008, Akiva Goldsman took a vacation from writing Ron Howard’s big-screen version of Angels & Demons — to wit, Koepp stepped in.
And the change was a good one: Angels & Demons is light-years away from being as bad as The Da Vinci Code. That said, it‘s still not Class-A movie viewing material.
The pope is dead. Soon, the Cardinals of the Catholic Church will choose a replacement. But the decision won’t be easy, especially as seeing a vial of highly destructive antimatter stuff has been stolen, and the top four picks for the new pope have been kidnapped. Into this mix, professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is called in by the Church, despite the fact that they basically hate him for that whole “decoding Da Vinci” thing. Soon, Langdon and the femme de la film — a scientist named Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer) — are hot on the trail of a group calling themselves The Illuminati, who have threatened to wipe out all of Vatican City with the antimatter doohickey. Ewan McGregor, Stellan Skarsgård, and Armin Mueller-Stahl co-star as some of the film’s many potential villains.
Presented on Blu-ray in a three-disc set, Angels & Demons boasts a rather nice MPEG-4/AVC 1080p presentation on Disc 1, with the movie presented in a 2.40:1 ratio. Viewers are given the option of watching the original theatrical cut, or in an extended version form. The movie’s High Def transfer delivers a rather solid and crisp picture, with some great colors and a pretty awesome contrast overall. Sound-wise, our feature has a wonderful English 5.1 DTS-HD MA lossless soundtrack, which delivers admirably from the subwoofer to those two rear speakers that more-often-than-naught aren’t given a good enough workout. A French 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack is also included, as are subtitles in both languages. Disc 2 of Angels & Demons carries a number of special features several HD featurettes, while Disc 3 has a digital copy of the film, as well as a trial version of Hans Zimmer Music Studio software.
While upping the amount of action from book to screen is basically a requirement in modern cinema, the end result of this Howard/Goldsman/Koepp/Brown (who co-produced) collaboration is an easy way to pass the time for two hours-plus. As I had previously mentioned though, there are flaws. Yes, there are action sequences to be found in this film, but it really isn’t the kind of story that should be driven by things blowing up and people spouting endless expositions.
Speaking of expositions, Hanks’ Langdon does little more than talk, run around, and react to the more interesting aspects of the film. Hanks’ performance is once again very stilted (as it was in the other film), and the Oscar-winning star’s delivery is sometimes synonymous with the term “phoning it in.” There are also a number of plot holes and continuity errors that will have eagle-eyed viewers gritting their teeth. But, that’s as maybe, folks. And the bottom line here is that, while Angels & Demons may have a number of weaknesses, it’s still good mindless fun.