In Ron Howard's thrilling follow-up to The Da Vinci Code, expert symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) follows ancient clues on a heart-racing hunt through Rome to find the four Cardinals kidnapped by the deadly secret society, the Illuminati. With the Cardinals' lives on the line, and the Camerlengo (Ewan McGregor) desperate for help, Langdon embarks on a nonstop, action-packed race through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, and the most secretive vault on Earth!
the land of make-believe, Hollywood can turn a prequel into
a sequel. With the success of "The Da Vinci Code",
Sony and Imagine Entertainment join forces once again to turn
Dan Brown’s "Angels & Demons", the first
of Robert Langdon’s 'adventure' into another tentpole
blockbuster of the same name.
Together with CERN scientist, Vittoria Vetra (Israel actress
Ayelet Zurer), Harvard professor Robert Langdon are summoned
by the Vatican to help them solve the Illuminati’s kidnapped
of their four beloved cardinals after the passing of the Pope.
Langdon deduced that the cardinals will be killed at the altars
of the Path of Illumination. The only way to pinpoint the
actual locations is to access the Vatican archive files to
retrieve one of Galileo Galilei's books before it’s
too late to save the cardinals and also before a stolen bomb
from CERN is detonated.
Fret not if some of the descriptions and words used in the
movie might be a bit ruffling as Angels and Demons works far
more successful than its predecessor on the whole, The Da
Vinci Code. Despite with an extended 7 minutes cut on this
DVD which mainly showcases the excised bloody bits in the
theatre, Angels & Demons is a taut, race-against-time
action thriller that never fails to slow down the adrenalin.
Combined with the intensity of "24" and the usual
brainy puzzles to solve along the way a la "National
Treasure", the screenplay by Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful
Mind) and David Koepp (Jurassic Park, Spider-Man) spins a
summarised yarn that will satisfy the action fanbase.
However, characterizations for our dear Harvard University
professor of symbology, Robert Langdon, Vittoria Vetra, Commander
Maximilian Richter (Stellan Skarsgård) and the Camerlengo
Patrick McKenna (Ewan McGregor) are hugely sacrificed and
loosely handled. Even though Hanks and McGregor have proven
to be way much capable, likeable actors in other productions,
sadly they came across as mere disposable props and nothing
more than dialogue-mouthing mechanisms in Angels & Demons.
If Sony and Ron Howard see the Robert Langdon character as
a profitable franchise and a modern Indiana Jones for that
matter, I would humbly suggest they blessed the man with more
heart and soul other than an insane level of high IQ.
The production level here is as rich and detailed as The Da
Vinci Code. With the assistance of CGI and truckloads of cash,
the production design team has again proven its boundless
capability. Composer Hans Zimmer turns in a surprising lush,
classy score as compared to the usual pedestrian music he
did. Salvatore Totino, Howard’s frequent lensman again
demonstrated his eyes for grandeur and gave a side of Rome
worthy of a travels catalogue.
Admittedly, Angels & Demons is pure escapism and brainless
entertainment even if the plot reeks of serious discussion
between the existence of God and the creation of Science.
At the end of the day, you will more likely remember the Langdon
character running across Rome with a filmsy touristy-looking
map seeking churches and naked statues.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
This Blu-ray two-disc edition contains the 138 minutes theatrical version and the 146 minutes extended edition.
Disc One consists the feature film and trailers for Terminator Salvation, The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 and 2012 while Disc Two contains all the special features.
Rome Was Not Built in a Day – Because of the apparent sensitiveness of Angels & Demons, the Vatican does not allow any on-location shooting to take place. Thus the production team has to work extra hard to replicate the movie many sets at a gigantic parking lot in L.A. This 17 minutes feature takes a look at it plus how the CG effect was composite for the movie’s final sequence.
Writing Angels & Demons – Tom Hanks, Director Ron Howard, Writer Dan Brown, Screenwriters Akiva Goldsman and David Koepp talks about the daunting task of adapting Brown’s original novel to the big screen (lasts approximately 10 minutes).
Characters in Search of the True Story – The main cast members including Hanks, Ayelet Zurer, Ewan McGregor, Stellan Skarsgård, Pierfrancesco Favino with Ron Howard discuss their onscreen roles in this 17 minutes feature.
CERN: Pushing the Frontiers of Knowledge – CERN stands for the European Organization for Nuclear Research and is one of the world’s largest and most respected centres for scientific research. This almost 15 minute feature takes us behind-the-scenes at this incredibly mind-boggling research facility featured in Angels & Demons.
Handling Props – Ron Howard and Property Master Trish Gallaher Glenn discuss in detail the many, many props used in the making of the movie. Very interesting featurette which lasts 11 minutes.
Angels & Demons: The Full Story – A behind-the-scenes look at the location shooting in Rome, rebuilding the movie's essential sets, dressing Vatican City to the rigging of the stunts. This is a summarised making-of feature if you intend to skip the above segments. (lasts 9 minutes)
This is an Ambigram – A short interview with Dan Brown and John Langdon, the real-life ambigram artist who helped Dan Brown create the complicated ambigrams featured in both the novel and the movie.
The Path of Illumination (Blu-Ray exclusive feature) – An interactive feature which allows you to select from five marked locations to unearth hidden secrets, historical facts, film clips and behind-the-scenes footage. Some of the information contains are repetitive though.
Cinechat & MovieIQ (Blu-Ray exclusive feature) – If you are a loyal fan of Angels & Demons or have a lot of spare time on hand, you can try out the Cinechat feature which allows you to send on-screen instant messages to friends around the world while watching the movie. For MovieIQ, you can access real-time information about the movie via BD-Live although it remains to be seen if this feature will catch on in future.
Even on the small screen, the visuals of this Angels & Demons Blu-ray disc are sharp and pristine which resulted in some of the CG backdrops looking pretty out-of-place because of it.
The English DTS HD 5.1 is a joy to immerse yourself in. Ambient sound effects and dialogue (which constitute a large chunk) never loses its liveliness and spontaneity throughout despite not being an outstanding title to showcase your surround’s capability.
by Linus Tee
Posted on 22 October 2009