Angels & Demons Review – Lost in Translation

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.

9 Responses to "Angels & Demons Review – Lost in Translation"

  1. kelambu_kaathu   May 15, 2009 at 5:22 am


    Have you seen hannibal holocaust? Responds:

    No. Just read about it.

  2. ShikhariShambhu   May 15, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    i thought so. Responds:

    There were about 20 people for the 12:01AM show. The rain may have dampened the enthusiasm of some folks.

  3. Which has been your favorite midnight movie till now? Responds:

    Dark Knight.

  4. guruji   May 15, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Having witnessed how the director made a hash of The Da Vinci Code, I was expecting this to be a equally crappy adaptation, if not worse. But the optimist inside me was hoping that the director would have learnt his lessons from the last time, but apparently not. Responds:

    Did you also go to the midnight show or are you going by the reviews?

    We didn’t think much of Da Vinci Code either. Maybe, expectations are higher from a successful book.

  5. guruji   May 15, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    I could not muster enough courage to watch the movie before the reviews were out, given it was the same team which made the Da Vinci Code. I always look at, which gives ratings based on averaging reviews from different sources. If the rating is more than 70%, I go watch the movie soon after release; otherwise I wait for the DVD. This one’s got 40% – may reduce further as more reviews come out. I may end up skipping the DVD as well, if it goes any lower. Responds:

    The rating has gone down to 37% on RT as we type this response.

    Save the $10 or $12 ticket money.

  6. Sarvvam will probably be better than this.. atleast Arya and Trisha are better looking than Hanks and the Israeli. Responds:

    We doubt it.

    Most Tamil movies are completely unwatchable garbage.

  7. yourmate   May 16, 2009 at 12:09 am

    It is always difficult to make a good movie out of a Book/Novel. In the recent past LOTR is a great exception!!! Responds:

    Offtopic: We received the DVD of Once Upon a Time in the West from Netflix. Will watch it later tonight or tomorrow.

  8. yourmate   May 16, 2009 at 1:49 am

    Great!! Did u watch Star Trek? I did not see a review here. I saw that it has 95% reviews in Rotten Tomatoes (8.1/10) and 8.5/10 in IMDB, I guess it should be a good movie. Responds:

    Star Trek? No. We watched Tom Hanks’ Angels & Demons. Didn’t like it.

    Would have started watching Once Upon a Time in the West. But we are preoccupied with the Indian Election results.

  9. felecofcornwall   August 4, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    Watched it some days back. Bland and boring. Perhaps Deception Point has the kind of thrilling action that, with proper screenplay adaptation, will look good on screen. By the way, I thought the protogonist’s name was Langdon. Responds:

    Fixed. Thanks.

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