ANGELS & DEMONS:
While this sequel (See criticís note) to THE DA VINCI CODE (2006) is just as implausibly preposterous as its predecessor, itís a much better movie. Once again Harvard professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is dispatched to the Vatican to try to figure out why a secret society wants to wreak havoc on the Catholic Church. But unlike real-life terrorists who keep their mouths shut and pray to Allah before flying jets into buildings, the clandestine evildoers here canít resist tipping their hand by leaving clues pointing to the detonation of a vial of deadly anti-matter hidden somewhere in St. Peterís Square. Banking on the hope that only nuclear physicists in the audience will recognize the impossibility of concealing such materials in a small can, the movie establishes a fast, highly watchable pace helped along by Ron Howardís (CINDERELLA MAN) direction and the tight editing of Dan Hanley and Mike Hill. Hans Zimmerís musical score helps the movieís more suspenseful sequences with its ominous, crescendo-building style. Since itís not bloody likely that any of the scenes were actually shot inside Vatican City walls, I should credit Allan Cameronís production and set design for looking a lot like the real thing. Much of the screenplay by Akiva Goldsman (A BEAUTIFUL MIND) and David Koepp (SPIDER-MAN) is full of Hanks (FORREST GUMP) explaining things which we could never possibly know about. However, before the events become stuck in exposition, the pace rapidly accelerates in time as it moves toward various cliffhangers involving the rescue of ďwannabe PopeĒ Cardinals from the kind of horrible, full-of-suffering deaths that Catholicism seems fixated on. The most accurate and concise way to explain why Iím giving a pass to the flaws in this work is to say that I can forgive a movie for almost anything except boring me. This film is anything but boring.
CRITICíS NOTE: This movie has to be classified as a sequel since Hanksí Professor Langdon refers to events that occurred in THE DA VINCI CODE (2006) during his opening scene. But readers of Dan Brownís novels will rightly call ANGELS & DEMONS a literary prequel to the runaway fictional best seller about Jesusís unknown family life since it was the first of the two books written.