Quick Movie Review: Angels & Demons (2009)

Here’s my brief history with Dan Brown’s books and the movies based on them. I read DaVinci Code back when it was a big deal after the missus (who wasn’t the missus back then) read it and passed it to me. I liked it. It’s a great, page turning adventure book. Then, of course, they made a movie, casting Tom Hanks which didn’t fit with my mental image of him. I didn’t see that movie, nor have I read its prequel Angels and Demons or its sequel The Lost Symbol (the missus as read them all). She mentioned she wanted to watch A&D, it popped up on Instant Watch and we weren’t doing anything so we checked it out. It’s pretty good.

A&D has a few things going for it that I liked. First off, the Large Hadron Collider plays prominently in the beginning story. It seemed to match up with what I had read about it, but I’m no expert. At least it looked cool. The movie also has Hanks who I kind of forgot I liked this much. Of course, it’s also got a ton of Catholic Church history, which I’m interested in as a lapsed Catholic who went through Catholic grade and high school, then studied the Church’s history in a few classics and history classes in college. It was fun hearing Hanks’s Robert Langdon talk about things I had studied to some extent. The story involves the Church calling Langdon in to help them find the four leading candidates for the next Pope and some antimatter from the Collider. The idea is that each candidate will be killed in an Illuminati-related secret place every hour until midnight when the antimatter case’s batter will expire and everything goes kablammo. Of course, it’s not that simple.

I did have a few problems though. First off, and this isn’t the movie’s fault, it wasn’t as fun as either National Treasure movie, which I love. Obviously, they’re different movies with A&D being a lot more serious and full of death, and I get that the NT movies came out to capitalize on the popularity of DaVinci Code, but I couldn’t help shaking the thought that I’d rather see Hanks in a National Treasure movie, being the cool fun guy, than being Langdon, who seems like a cool fun guy whose stuck in some pretty serious business. The other problem with the movie is that it’s a bit too long, which not only gave me time to get bored with the movie (how many times do they need to be sitting around not doing anything between murders?) AND start thinking about it too much. I’m not saying I don’t want movies to make me think, but with all the breathing room A&D gave me–and the knowledge that there was still a lot of time as they started racing towards the deadline–I knew something was up and figured it out pretty quickly. In fact, I not only figure out who the real bad guy was, but had the whole ugly affair sorted out with about 20 minutes left. Now, I like the feeling of knowing what’s going on before the characters do, but it shouldn’t take them so much longer to figure it out than me. It should be a few minutes thing. Otherwise you start wondering what the hell these people are in charge for anyway. Hell, if I’m just a freelance pop culture writer and I nailed it while the experts can’t, I’m bored and don’t care to watch anymore.

The missus said it seemed pretty close to the book, so I’ll probably steer clear for a while, though I am interested to read it. I’m looking for a book that really keeps me interested. I’m reading Terry Pratchet’s Soul Music right now which is really good, but for some reason, it’s not absorbing me. Anyway, watching this made me want to check out DaVinci Code again (the book). After she liked it to much I got the missus a version with images of the paintings and statues, which really helps because you’re not running to the computer every few pages. Anyone know if there are versions of Lost Symbol and A&D like that?

3 thoughts on “Quick Movie Review: Angels & Demons (2009)

  1. There’s an illustrated Angels and Demons and I’m sure there will be a Lost Symbol one eventually.

    Figured it out right away? You told me about an hour in that the Cardinal in charge of the Conclave was the bad guy, then about 2 hours in you told me it was the head of the Swiss Guard…

    Also it’s been so long since I read the book that it followed closely enough to keep me happy, but I’m not sure how well it follows the story.

    1. Wow, shouldn’t you be working? Anyway, I meant that I figured it out pretty quickly after I realized something was amiss, which was when there was an hour left.

  2. Wow, Em, ZING! Loves it!

    I read the book more recently, and watched the movie a couple weekends ago. My opinion: I thought it followed the story line most of the way through, but they took out one entire plotline and changed a pretty big event at the end, which made the movie blow for me. I think I would have liked it if I had never read the book.

    TJ – the book was great, you should read it. It’s much more rich.

    Comparing the movies – I liked National Treasure better. More action.

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