Let's make it absolutely clear - if you are already a fan of the book, the author or the original film, this review will hardly change your mind, and you should go watch it. If you want validation for this prequel/sequel to what you think is a masterpiece, you won't find it here. For the rest who are interested in objectively knowing what the fullhyd.com reviewer thought of it, here goes.
The fact is that I thought The Da Vinci Code
was a passable book which was made into one of the most insultingly stupid films ever. I will say this for Angels & Demons: it is much easier on the eyes and the brains than its predecessor. In fact, despite the fact that it is peppered with small explanations that everyone feels compelled to give, the film is almost relentlessly paced.
The book Angels & Demons is a prequel to The Da Vinci Code, while the film version is positioned as a sequel, and I think that works. After the events of the first film, the Church is not exactly pleased with Robert Langdon, and that makes it even more interesting when the only person they can ask to help them with a kidnapping and a conspiracy is someone they have denounced.
The Pope has died, and an ancient society of some secret agenda has kidnapped the four cardinals who are the potential Popes. They have also placed a bomb in the middle of Vatican City and left a series of clues all through the city that tie back into ancient Church history, something only Langdon (Hanks) can solve. Of course, Langdon does that, but he does so by accident
If it wasn't taking itself so seriously, I could have confused this film for a Pink Panther sequel. Langdon bumbles and stumbles forward from one crazy danger to the next discovering things less with the power of his own deduction, and more because he happens to be there. The way the story and the twists unfold, if Langdon had never come, with the exception of the last moments, he would have had no major impact on the events that eventually transpire.
Still, the film is better on the eyes. The Da Vinci Code felt cheaply produced, and swooping shots of the country-side aside, it felt very visually strangled. Angels & Demons, on the other hand, looks brighter, better filmed and quite lavishly produced. The success of the first film wrought some good, at least. We are treated to some magnificent location-establishing shots, and even with large parts of exposition, the camera is moving at interesting angles.
The fact that Tom Hanks has gotten himself a decent haircut this time helps, too. He is after all one of the most likeable stars, and his presence itself is amiable throughout the film. There is zero chemistry between his Langdon and CERN scientist Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer), but they make for a fun goofy couple doing slapsticky things (they even pretend to be married to study a murder site).
The rest of the cast does remarkably well, all things considered. While none of the characters or plot machinations are believable or even remotely plausible, the actors playing those characters keep themselves dignified and do not go down to hammy levels. Valiantly fighting the stupid script, the actors bring a sense of fun to the proceedings, never trying to be as serious as the script demands them to be.
Oh, no doubt about it: if not for Ron Howard's breakneck pacing of the film, the script would have doomed the film. Characters say and do things that make no sense just so that they set up a payoff at the end. Scenes of death and danger are rendered hilarious when you realize that nothing the leads do amounts to anything, and often a piece of expository dialogue sounds extremely suspect.
Despite that, Howard and his cast rise to the challenge, and deliver a fast-paced, good-looking and decently-acted-in film. I wish I could like a movie about a knowledgeable geek type at the lead more. I wish I could say better things than this is better than the last film. However, true believers, there are talks of yet another Langdon film on an unpublished book. At the rate at which these films have improved, the next one could yet be good.