After what seems like ages (but was 2 weeks exactly) the much-awaited Angels & Demons hits the screens in India; only single screens though, no multiplexes…though how Prasadz counts as a single-screen-theatre beats me! Anyways, the movie’s kinda worth the wait and is a thrill-a-minute roller coaster ride. Well, not exactly thrill-a-minute since there are few scenes filled with long-drawn speeches and explanations. of the happenings in the past, goings-on of the present and expected events in the near-future.
Simply put, the Vatican has just lost its Pope to death and amidst the Conclave to choose the successor, it emerges that an old enemy – The Illuminati – has resurfaced and wants revenge. Death awaits the four preferiti or the preferred cardinals, each of them at four churches symbolized by the four basal elements – Earth, Air, Fire & Water. Added to that, there’s an anti-matter-bomb waiting to explode at the end of it all. Much against its wishes, the Church approaches Professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) to help solve the mystery, and to balance the lead cast on the sexual scale, there’s Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zuerer), the scientist overlooking the LHC Project from where the Anti Matter was stolen from. Together they dig into the Vatican Archives, unearth seemingly invisible clues, trace the subtly hidden paths across Rome and attempt to save the four kidnapped cardinals and also save the area from being wiped off by an “explosion equivalent to 5 Megatons of ‘something’ ”
There’s not much intellectual solving of clues or intricate de-mystification of the er…um…mysteries as most of the progress is made sometimes accidentally and sometimes via long-winded reasoning. Though it is gripping and engrossing, my gripe with it is that for understanding many of the goings-on, one has to be au courant of the Vatican History – Galileo, Bernini, the Churches of Rome, the Illuminati’s actions etc. To be fair to the movie, some of those are explained to the viewer in great detail and one can’t complain too much. There is also the eternal Religion Vs. Science debate that the Camerlengo (Ewan MacGregor) – the Pope’s aide – expounds in great detail to the Papal Conclave and hopes the Church will “come out into the open”.
The movie’s production values are top-notch. The Sistine Chapel, the Churches’ and Museum’s interiors are intrinsically replicated and one feels they’re the actual locations. I dunno if the St. Peter’s Square sequence was on-location or not but it was well-executed and the aerial shots of the square and the statues surrounding it add value to the visual experience. The performances are well-rounded, especially Hanks’ and MacGregor’s. Hanks continues the professorial portrayal from the earlier movie and probably would have liked to have a bigger bite of the action-cherry. Ayelet’s role is much like Bollywood heroines’, filling screen-space and propounding ‘missing bits’ into the narration at key intervals. Stellan Skasgard, as the Commander of the Swiss Guards is commendable. Is it just me or does the guy playing the second cop resembles Adrian Brody…and the guy playing the hired-killer resembles Michael Ballack??? Director Ron Howard deserves special mention for making this movie better paced than the earlier one and manages to deliver an enthralling movie experience.
The climax holds the key to the whole movie and though the denouement was on expected lines, the way it was handled could have been better. Not giving out much, I felt the parachute scene was too much implausible. Not like that rest of the happenings were entirely plausible…with such a fictional backdrop, a degree of creative freedom was entirely expected. As I’ve said earlier, I haven’t read the book yet but now I don’t need to the movie’s good at holding one’s interest and is engrossing enough to merit a three-star rating.