PG-13 for sequences of violence, disturbing images and thematic material.
Thriller, Adaptation, Politics/Religion
May 15, 2009
Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellan Skarsgard, Pierfrancesco Favino, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, and Armin Mueller-Stahl
Sony Pictures Releasing
OFFICIAL WEB SITE
Angels & Demons Official Movie Web site
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Angels & Demons
By Hannah Goodwyn
- Not meant to be a documentary on the evils of religion or the potential for catastrophe due to modern science projects, Angels & Demons is a gripping film about how faith and knowledge can help society live to see another day.
The Movie in a Minute
Harvard professor Robert Langdon can’t believe his eyes when confronted with the possibility that the Illuminati are ready to exact its revenge on their ancient enemy – the Catholic Church. After a highly volatile experiment is stolen from an advanced science lab, Langdon and Dr. Vittoria Ventra must follow clues to stop this secret organization’s clandestine threat against the Vatican. As the clock ticks, a ruthless assassin murders a respected Cardinal each hour, with the culminating event occurring at midnight.
Based on the Best-Selling Book
Like the book, the movie follows Professor Langdon as he encounters the reality of a secret society he has once thought extinct. In Dan Brown’s story, men of science formed this alliance, the Illuminati, in opposition of the persecution the Catholic Church brought upon them.
Using this thrilling story of Robert Langdon as the vehicle to raise these questions, Brown opens the door to themes of great consequence to the Christian faith. As the story unfolds, moviegoers will soon realize that this tale is riddled with important religious questions. Does God exist? What or who created the universe? Does society truly need the Church?
The science vs. religion argument is central to the story’s plot. At the end of the day, Angels & Demons concludes that society needs both. Our culture cannot live without faith and science in time with shine light on the complexities of our world, proving the existence of our Maker. It represents the Church as a place of refuge for a world in need of hope in trying times.
Most of the essential elements (Cinematography, Art Direction, Score, Cast) needed for a movie to be great are done well in Angels & Demons. Director Ron Howard and his team created an exceptional movie based on scenes they shot using the St. Peter’s Square they built in Los Angeles. Denied access to film in the Vatican, as is the policy of the Church concerning commercial filming, the Angels & Demons crew had to recreate the famous religious structures for some of the most intricate scenes in the movie. Hans Zimmer wrote a spectacular score for the film, keeping in tone with what was unfolding on screen. The cast, including Tom Hanks and Ewan McGregor, performed well in the roles they were assigned.
Where the Movie Gets it Wrong
Director Ron Howard’s interpretation of Dan Brown’s book has its flaws. The script does not complement the story Brown told in his novel. For reasons unknown, characters’ names were changed; background stories were altered. The basic plot and most of the sub-plots are intact in the movie. However, moviegoers who have read the book will be scratching their heads as they watch as some of the key elements to the story are either overlooked in the script or completely changed. One example, is the character of the camerlengo, the Pope’s assistant. His role is vital to the story, and yet for no apparent reason, his name and history is different from the book. Without explanation, one could easily assume that the role was changed so that McGregor could be in the movie. The film’s assassin comes across as a Western European, when Dan Brown’s story details him as a young Middle Eastern male. It’s these changes that diminish the strength of the story.
Another loss in the movie is the lack of time given to explaining the reasoning behind the scientific experiment. Dan Brown’s book offers that Vittoria’s father (who was referred to only as a colleague in the movie) created antimatter in an effort to prove God created the Heavens and the Earth, and us. This is hardly spoken of in the movie. In passing, Vittoria explains the project from her perspective (which was mentioned in the book) as a way to create an energy source to better the environment.
Granted, no one wants to sit through a four-hour movie and it is difficult to fit a 700-page story into a few hours. But, more of the book’s story could have made it unaltered into the two and a half hours the director makes you sit through.
On another discouraging note, the movie’s ending was a bit weak. Without giving too much of the thrilling surprise away, it is hard to believe that the culprit had access and the brains to pull off this elaborate mission. It was just too unbelievable an ending. Too many loose ends were left untied in the movie’s storyline.
The Final Judgment
Angels & Demons is simply entertaining thriller. Take it at just that. You will learn no compelling history; to do that go to your local church or library and do some digging yourself. Its portrayal of the Catholic Church is not as offensive as Brown’s first big movie, The Da Vinci Code. In fact, churchgoers may find the message of the power of the church in society a positive one. Movies like this one compel audiences around the world to reflect on their personal faith. For that, this Christian and movie lover is glad.
Hannah Goodwyn serves as a producer for CBN.com. For more articles and information, visit Hannah's bio page.
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