Many times, second chances are not an option, but in the case of Ron Howard and Tom Hanks, the two were granted an golden opportunity to make amends for the dismal thriller The Da Vinci Code, which was a box office hit but, understandably, a critical dud. A fan of the book, the movie was dull, slowly paced and cheesy, and left my interest in a sequel, based on the Dan Brown book Angels & Demons, immensely low.
But Hollywood doesn't look at the demand posed by one Erik Samdahl. If they would, they would have made Ender's Game by now. But that's an argument for another day, another time.
Angels & Demons, the book, is in fact an entertaining story well-suited for a movie adaptation, much more so than the more popular and well-known The Da Vinci Code. About a secret society that has kidnapped and begun to murder Vatican cardinals on the eve of the selection of a new Pope, Angels & Demons is pretty straightforward, fast-paced and ends with a bang.
The movie is, in fact, much better than the original. The filmmakers clearly paid attention to a lot of the criticisms from the first movie and made modifications accordingly. The result isn't amazing, but Angels & Demons is an entertaining, well-paced action thriller. There's a fair amount of action and suspense and much less plodding and clue finding, and that's pretty much all that is needed.
Hanks turns in an okay performance; he's definitely here for the paycheck. Ayelet Zurer is pretty good, but along with Stellan Skarsgard doesn't get the character development she deserves. Ewan McGregor is, by far, the biggest addition to the movie, and he handles his role well. In hindsight, though, I wonder if he flies a little too under the radar at the end of the picture.
There's not much else that can be said. Angels & Demons moves along at a fast enough pace, will keep most people entertained (more so the folks who have not read the book and don't know what to expect) and has an effective ending. Howard's direction is nothing to write home about; he's just not the guy to direct thrillers such as this. There are some other elements that could have been improved, but none that are particularly distracting.
Angels & Demons is better than the critics say and worth seeing, though it hardly is a classic in any sense of the word.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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