Angels Demonized

August 7, 2010 at 12:17 pm (Uncategorized)

Ron Howard, Tom Hanks and a Dan Brown best seller. Sounds like a recipe for great success. Alas, just as their previous collaboration Da Vinci Code, which led to the coining of the 11th Commandment, “Thou shalt not bore”, Angels and Demons fails to live up to the hype and ends up making almost the same mistakes as its predecessor

Adaptation of books to a screenplay is no easy task (as so brilliantly displayed by the masterpiece “Adaptation”). And the task doesn’t get any easier when the book at hand, is a 500 page thriller, read by millions of people worldwide. The Peter Jackson directed LOTR is a notable exception, bringing to the screen, a world of fantasy, superior to the imagination of a reader. However, A&D is no notable exception, save for thef fact that it features a largely insipid display by Mr. Hanks. Tom Hanks, for more than a decade, has been the Mr. Dependable of Hollywood. But he comes across as almost uninterested in the film, with little screen presence, even in the company of lesser known actors.

Trying to establish the background to the plot and characters seems to be a hurried affair, as the movie moves quickly to the chase, which dominates the rest of the movie. That is the big problem with the adaptation of a book, a big chunk of which is devoted to the history of the church and the characters. The studios probably chose to concentrate on the action segments, rather than in the historical background. With the latest LHC experiment thrown in for topicality, the director tries hard to capture the imagination of the viewer.

To be fair to the film, it does pick up in the middle, after a drawn out first 45 minutes. With some imaginative editing and the constant back and forth between the chase and the proceedings of the papal congregation, a seed of interest is sowed in the viewer. This is concurrently accompanied with Hanks actually looking lively and though it is not quite “set the screen on fire” material,  at least he doesn’t look bored. The background score also livens up the action. With about 140 minutes of screen time, Howard makes sure the middle part of the film is action packed, with a relentless chase.

I am not an expert on the history of the Church, and will not try to point out the various historical inaccuracies in the film (and the novel). But as a cinematic experience, the movie is hardly captivating and gripping. The utter lack of chemistry between the lead pair, the predictable storyline and the bad screenplay do not help the cause. Hanks seems better suited for drama roles (Saving Private Ryan was an exception). Ron Howard has clearly seen better days. The studios need to get over their fascination of churning out adaptations of bestsellers, without putting enough thought into the whole art of film making.

Ewan McGregor as Patrick McKenna tries to hold the movie together, with an inspired performance. The art direction is one of the best seen in years, and the sets are a standout. Combined with some fast paced action, it actually makes the movie a little better than the previous edition. But, if you have already read the book, or if you have zero interest in Christian symbols, do yourself a favor. Stay at home. Go watch Toy Story 3.

Genre: Thriller

Rating: Yawnnnnnnnnnnn

Go watch it with: Best seen alone

Go watch it for: The sets

Angels and Demons

Angels and Demons

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