Angels and Demons: 3 out of 10: Clearly something bad has happened to Ron Howard. I don't know what exactly, but something has gone very wrong.
Howard has always been a decent workman director. While he will never be mistaken for an artistic savant both Cinderella Man and Apollo 13 were excellent films, Parenthood was pretty good and even Angels and Demons prequel/sequel The Da Vinci Code was a fun romp. In addition none of his films have been downright awful. (Note I have seen neither How the Grinch Stole Christmas nor his newest film Heidi Montag Says No to Plastic.)
What's more Howard managed to hold this quality is such devise genres as star driven Oscar bait (A Beautiful Mind), star driven costume drama (Farand Away), star driven revenge fantasy (Ransom) and comedies about prostitution and mermaids (Night Shift, Splash).
Angels and Demons is at its center a poorly directed and shot film. Scenes are too dark, camera angles are all wrong, the actors block each others shots and the whole affair is often out of focus. This makes the telling ofan already confusing story even more muddled.
Dan Brown gets picked on a lot but I found The Da Vinci Code a fun readable romp (so sue me). The movie version of the Da Vinci code kept the same where arethey going to next vibe of the book and added an attractive cast and attractive location shooting.
Angels and Demons however takes place in the claustrophobic confines of Vatican City and since Howard wasn't allowed to film in many of the real locations we end up with a lot of running around a CGI back lot. The entire film is as if Rick Steves did a Vatican City special and instead of actually visiting the Holy City and pointing his camera, Rick had to use Lego bricks and asecond hand art book with all the tits erased.
While the DaVinci code had what I still think is an intriguing central mystery(again sue me), Demons and Angels story consists of a plot by the Illuminati (roll eyes now) to destroy the Vatican. Their idea was to take positions in schools for the deaf around the world and raping every fucking student in the ass repeatedly. Oops my bad; apparently the Vatican doesn't need any help on that one.
Anyway their plan is to infiltrate Europe's Large Hadron Collider, kill the head priest, and steal three vials of Anti-matter. This begs more than a few questions. Can the Hadron Collider create anti-matter? Can you capture the anti-matter once created? Why is the EU collecting it? (Perhapsthey fear a Godzilla attack?). Why is the head of Anti-matter gathering a Vatican priest?
Now once they get the anti-matter they are going to use its incredible destructive power to take over the world… no just kidding;unfortunately the Illuminati haven't quite grasped that Pinky and the Brain level of sophistication just yet. Instead the current pope has just died and it's conclave time. The top seeded cardinals for the final four pope tournament are all kidnapped and the Illuminati are killing them one by one Seven style. They being good sports however areleaving clues at every murder like some Latin themed Riddler. Oh and the last kidnapped Cardinal has the anti-matter and if he isn't found in time Rick Steves will have to go straight to Venice next year to see decent frescoes. If only there was some Latin themed Batman to save the day…?
Okay the story is truly awful and it is poorly told, but maybe this is one of those films saved by great performances. A true character study… (Okay you know where this is going). Tom Hanks givesan incredibly wooden performance and simply looks awful (he is also to old to play the character by about twenty years. ) his love interest Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer has zero chemistry with either Hanks or the screen. Ewan Macgregor plays the Pope's personal assistant/cabana boy as an Irish man who looks like he is about to break into a musical number at any moment providing no one steals his Lucky Charms.
On the plus side Stellan Skarsgård puts in a fine turn as head of Vatican Security and as far as we know no deaf children were ass fucked during the making of this film which puts it ahead of its Vatican critics in at least one area.
Ayelet Zurer shows Tom Hanks why she is impressed with the new pope.
Yeah they're in love.
Tom Hanks is the Latin Batman with Latin Robin played by Pierfrancesco Favin
Latin Batman not in time for Riddler's fire trick.
St Peter's Square before the disaster.
Just kidding this is from that disaster porn cornucopia 2012
Here are the actual special effects.
You notice how they use more fog than a Nintendo 64 Superman game to hide the fact they have bad CGI effects shot in soft focus. Pathetic.
Speaking of horrible effects above is the Macguffin. Yup that is anti-matter the most destructive force in the universe apparently stored in a tube from a 1973 RCA CTC-48 XL-100 Solid State Console TV ...
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