Angels and Demons
Ron Howard’s assault on the Catholic Church continues with his latest film, ANGELS AND DEMONS. The film, which Dan Brown actually wrote before THE DAVINCI CODE, continues the story of famed symbologist, Robert Langdon. This time, the Catholic Church has asked him to aid them in their investigation of what is supposedly a resurgence of the mythical Illuminati. Always eager to investigate ancient symbols, Langdon agrees and quickly finds himself wrapped up in an ancient mystery that could destroy the Catholic Church as we know it.
But like THE DAVINCI CODE, the fun in the film isn’t what happens at the end, it’s getting to that point by peeling off layers of the mystery and learning new and interesting facts about the Church. I can’t stand comparing books to movies, but if there’s one thing that’s lost in the cinematic transfer of Brown’s books, it’s that the intensity around the revealing of little facts and secrets isn’t nearly as exciting. I’m not sure it’s a fault of Ron Howard or just a challenge with the material, but there were times when Langdon would just mumble a fact under his breath and it was barely even acknowledged in the film. For me, those little facts and how they relate to one another is fascinating information and the film would have done well to spend more time on the mystery and less time on the drama between the characters.
I’m kind of a sucker for hidden messages and deeper meanings, so I got a kick out of watching Langdon run around Rome investigating the many hidden symbols and messages the Illuminati supposedly hid from the Church. I’m of the belief that Tom Hanks is the greatest actor working today and he turns in another great performance. What makes the story more fascinating is that most of what they discuss is based on fact, even if the real meaning of the symbols is still up for debate. I didn’t get bored until the end, which I felt dragged on too long. After the investigation was done and all of the Churches were found, I was ready for the film to end. Instead, we had a third act that dragged the story out and introduced some “real time” mysteries that were solved a little too easily.
As far as the story goes, there aren’t very many entities in the world more interesting than the Catholic Church. By the time you look at all the tradition and mystery in the Church, you could make a thousand interesting films and never leave the Vatican. Similar to THE DAVINCI CODE, a lot of the focus is on the Illuminati and the mysteries/truths the Church attempted to cover up in the early stages of Catholicism. It’s that focus that leads many people to assume Ron Howard and/or Dan Brown dislike Catholicism. I don’t think there’s a dislike there, but I do think they want the world to see some of the flaws of the Church that are mostly hidden from the world. I guess depending on where you stand on that subject will dictate how you feel about the intentions of Howard and Brown.