Thursday, June 18, 2009

Angels and Demons

It seems like my mom has been dictating my movie viewing most of this month. The plan was to go tubing on the Red Lake River with my mom and my sister for my sister's birthday but it turned out to be a rainy, bleak day. So, our next best option was a movie--the only one mom really wanted to see Angels and Demons. My sister tends to see every movie she's interested in the minute it comes out, so she didn't mind. In the end, neither did I. (secretly, I rather wanted to see a bit of light hearted fare -- The Hangover, maybe, or The Land of the Lost.)

I'd read The DaVinci Code back when that was all the rage and I found it interesting but not mind blowing in the way people had described it to me. I was eager to see that film because Audrey Tautou was in it. I left that film disappointed despite that fact. The DaVinci Code seemed an awful lot like National Treasure with Nicholas Cage though the book didn't read that way at all for me. It's very difficult for films to measure up to books--a task rarely accomplished. Though I'd argue that some directors manage it.

This time around, I'd not read the book first--nor do I really have any intention of doing so later. I think this may have made the film a bit better for me. Angels and Demons is the prequel to the other film/book but many have claimed it is even better. I'm not sure where I fall on that score. Tom Hanks played Robert Langdon and in this film we get to see the Vatican archives which reminded me a LOT of the Kerlan Collection at the Anderson Library at University of Minnesota... Obviously the Vatican was on a much larger scale. I do have a thing for libraries, archives, and ancient one of a kind books. I am the kind of weirdo who does get a bit of a thrill looking at the daily page in the Book of Kells at Trinity Library in Dublin (did that trip TEN years ago, can hardly believe it's been that long).

Though there was a female lead in this film too, she wasn't nearly as interesting as the role played by Ewan McGregor--Camerlengo Patrick McKenna--the stand-in for the pope until a new one is chosen following the pope's untimely death. Ayelet Zurer played Dr. Vittoria Vetra, a research scientist who was part of the team of CERN scientists working Large Hadron Collider trying to replicate the origin of life. Their experiment produces three vials of antimatter which are unstable and highly dangerous. And, of course, one of them is stolen by terrorists determined to overthrow the church. The film is about the collision (no pun intended) between science and religion and the emergence of the Illuminati, an ancient order. Langdon and Vetra are led around the city of Rome in an attempt to prevent the murders of the four preferitti (primary hopefuls for the papacy) and also prevent the destruction of the Vatican and much of Rome by finding and safely reclaiming the vial of anti-matter before it explodes.

The film was nonstop action and it almost moved TOO quickly. I suspect the reading pace would be gripping but have more intellectual pondering, more time for speculation. I think the pace of the film revealed the flaws of the story to some degree in that it hardly seemed possible that they could even be pursuing the baddies at that pace... one's mind would have no room for error and would have to move lightning fast in order to accomplish even half of what they are attempting. Yet, lives are on the line and so Langdon's brain is in overdrive all the while dealing with Vatican rules and regulations that forbid him access and slow him down.

Still, I'd recommend the film, though others have lambasted it. I did enjoy the adventure flick feel to the film and having no book to compare it to, it was just fine by me.

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