Angels and Demons
Columbia
At the Showcase and Quality 16

Courtesy of Columbia

1 out of 5 stars

It comes as no surprise these days when a film adaptation of a highly successful novel falls far short of expectations. What is surprising, however, is when a movie repeats the same mistakes that made its predecessor banal and unwatchable. Such is the case with “Angels and Demons.” Like “The Da Vinci Code,” it is slow-paced, shallow and offers nothing new to viewers already familiar with the highly successful book upon which the film is based.

The movie revolves around the age-old feud between the Catholic Church and science. Following the mysterious death of the Pope, Vatican City comes under threat from a secret cult of dissidents, the Illuminati, who have hidden an anti-matter bomb somewhere in the city. Symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks, “Charlie Wilson’s War”) is summoned to help prevent the destruction of the city using his knowledge of religious doctrine and cryptogram-deciphering skills.

What made the book “Angels and Demons” different (and perhaps even better) than “The Da Vinci Code” was its incredible suspense and fast tempo. This also made it a stronger contender for a movie adaptation. Yet the film still moves so slowly. The moments between action sequences crawl at a snail’s pace, with dialogue serving no other purpose than to keep the audience abreast with Langdon’s god-like ability to discover clues where there almost certainly can be none. It seems Langdon can say whatever he wants, whether it makes sense or not. For example, he calls a statue of a dove an “angel of peace” while scouring churches for angelic or religious symbols. Doves are not angels. Because of time constraints, Langdon’s explanation-less comments throw the audience at the whim of any additional absurdities scattered throughout “Angels.”

But statements like this can be traced back to the book, in which these seemingly perfunctory statements are properly fleshed out and actually make sense. “Angels” (like “Da Vinci Code”) screws itself by splitting action and mystery, but not fully developing either side. When details are neglected, audiences are left to go with the flow, which can be extremely infuriating at times. On the other hand, if none of the interesting and genuinely cool Catholic and Illuminati lore are present, the whole purpose of the movie is lost.

The worst part of the film, though, is that fans of the book gain nothing from watching the movie. Not only does the movie skip important information present in the books, but the info it does have is so watered down that all significance is lost. The deaths in the novel definitely churn the imagination. But when these scenes are shown on the big screen under a PG-13 rating, not much justice is done. That’s not to say a “Saw” approach is required, but just like the dialogue of the film, they feel merely obligatory — just something to move the story along.

Ultimately, “Angels” doesn’t share any of the intrigue or mystery of its book counterpart. It’s trite in its descriptions and divided in its spirit. Not even a trip to the confession booth can purge the sin of watching this abomination of a movie.

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