Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Angels and Demons. C+

Angels and Demons looks like it was filmed completely on location in Rome, which makes the film's production design and sets the most amazing thing about it. Other than that, this is pretty over-the-top material that doesn't match evenly with the movie's deadly serious performances. There's a lot going on in this thickly layered plot, but the basic idea is that Vatican City is in danger of being annihilated by a burst of light from a stolen antimatter vial. The pope has just died and the four likeliest successors are kidnapped by a revenge-seeking group called the Illuminati (also responsible for planting the hidden vial). Harvard symologist Robert Langdon is then summoned to save the city with only a number of hours before the vial explodes. Angels and Demons is pure chaos, but it's also a decent and entertaining thriller. It's of course based off of Dan Brown's best-selling novel, and though it was surrounded by controversy, there wasn't nearly as much as when The Da Vinci Code arrived four years ago. And really, the movie is pretty tame in its treatment of Catholic doctrine. The only real offense one might find is that so much violence occurs in some of the church's most sacred places (also, Langdon, a skeptic, expresses his ambiguity over the existence of God, which may be Brown's own viewpoint). But this is such an outrageous, unbelievable story that no Catholic should really take it seriously. Though intense, this is a light, silly movie and harmless for even the most ardent conservatives. As I said, the movie looks great, and even if you've been to Rome you'll have a hard time recognizing this fake Rome (though there are plenty of shots taken of the actual city). But the premise is really goofy, and as the movie winds down and the final twist is revealed, you pretty much have to suspend all belief to enjoy it.

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