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Angels & Demons Still Just a Lecture

Published May 15, 2009 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Columbia Pictures, Variety
Angels & Demons Teaser Poster Angels & Demons
Well, here’s another one. I did not like The Da Vinci Code, but only because it was completely faithful to the book which I didn’t like. As such, I never read Angels & Demons, but I can tell it’s faithful too because it’s exactly the same thing.

Review: Angels & Demons

It’s still just a lecture, only this time it’s about papal procedures and anti-matter science and the Illuminatti. I’m already tuning out, just like I did in high school. This isn’t even as fascinating a myth as Da Vinci. At least that was celebrity history, with Leonardo and Jesus and Mary.

These are pretty boring intellectuals too. There are exciting and dramatic movies about intellectuals. Starting Out in the Evening is compelling. Finding Forrester is moving. Good Will Hunting. Robert Langdon isn’t having any fun being smarter than everyone else. His attempts at humor include making marriage jokes or stating the obvious with no sarcasm or irony. Even his brain humor is flat. He takes no joy in his knowledge. That’s all from the Dan Brown source though. It’s not supposed to be fun, dammit. This is important!

Angels may be slightly better than Da Vinci, though only by about half a point, because it has a little more immediate tension. Not that there have to be physical challenges, but if they can’t sell the intellectual ones, it’s something. It’s not great action, but at least on par with an ‘80s TV show.

Characters fall into some traps that Langdon has to escape using his wits. It’s not as intense or complex as Saw but at least you see a threat, not some vague spectrre of getting caught before you solve the next clue. Often even this doesn’t work. They attempt to create suspense in looking through crowds for landmarks. There’s a Roland Emmerich-esque spectacle. Maybe churchgoers are riveted by cardinals in danger but to me they’re just movie victims. Sorry they’re getting tortured but it’s not that entertaining.

Perhaps the only noteworthy update of the book is that they specify that it takes place after Langdon’s last incident. Even though this book came first, they wanted to make sure it was a sequel, not a prequel. So there you go. Way to adapt it for the screen.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Columbia Pictures, Variety

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