After a while, seeing Tom Hanks’ character Robert Langdon and the policemen constantly running around in a frenzy or jumping into a car and rushing from one corner of Rome to another gets tiresome.
Angels & Demons is yet another decent book that fails to make the leap to the big screen without stumbling big time.
Ain’t No Drama Here
Based on the book of the same name by the popular novelist Dan Brown (of Da Vinci Code fame), Angels & Demons from director Ron Howard lacks the drama that makes the book a compelling read.
David Koepp and Akiva Goldsman, who are credited for the screenplay, have utterly failed to carry over the excitement of the book to the screen. And the shoddy screenplay is a big shame given the adequate material in their possession and the high hopes the previews had raised.
Although there are some differences of detail, in its broad outline the movie follows the novel.
A canister containing a drop of antimatter, a powerful substance that can wreak enormous destruction if it comes into contact with matter, is stolen from the CERN research institute in Geneva.
The folks behind the theft are supposedly the Illuminati, a 400-year-old secret organization that has been presumed to be defunct for centuries.
In the age of Galileo, the Illuminati (the Enlightened Ones) was comprised of people who prized science above religion and hence incurred the wrath of the Vatican and suffered greatly at its hands.
After several centuries, the Illuminati has resurfaced and it’s retribution time now. You see, the antimatter canister will explode with all the fury of a 5-kiloton nuclear weapon by midnight.
So, where do you think the stolen antimatter canister lands up?
The theft of the canister also provides the opportunity for the introduction of Harvard professor of symbology Robert Congdon (Tom Hanks), who is considered the Illuminati expert because of his book on the subject.
Helping Robert in trying to prevent the looming catastrophe is the pretty Vittoria Vetra, a bioentanglement physicist, who had worked on the antimatter technology at CERN.
Unlike in the book, Vittoria, played by Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer, has a significantly smaller role in the movie.
Meanwhile, a conclave of Cardinals to elect a new Pope is being held at the Vatican. But hey, where are the four favorites?
Although the clock is ticking and Robert and Vittoria are deciphering clues from 400-year-old books and running around trying to prevent a mega-disaster in the few short hours that’s available, director Ron Howard fails to provide an adrenaline-rush because of the poor screenplay.
All we get is a sense of deja vu.
Some of the scenes in the movie like the trip Robert and Vittoria make to the Vatican Archives to search for critical clues just don’t have the same impact as in the book.
Ditto for the age-old conflict between science and religion that’s supposedly at the root of the crisis.
We were not bowled over by the performances of either Tom Hanks or Ayelet Zurer.
All in all, Angels & Demons turned out to be a big disappointment for us. Definitely not worth spending your $$ in these hard economic days.