Monday, May 25, 2009

FILM: Angels and Demons

George's mother and her friend Bruce (a former Catholic priest) were visiting us this weekend, and we were surprised to be told that they wanted to see Angels and Demons. Bruce had enjoyed the book. Katie, I think, was going along for the ride. We caught an 8:10 showing at the Americana in Glendale, after determining that sundown was 7:54 (which made George's Mom feel much better, a nuance that only Adventists would understand). We enjoyed the gruesome but rollicking adventure through Rome, and in fact I didn't think it was quite as gruesome as it could have been. Clearly a plot centering on the murder of four cardinals in elaborately painful ways cannot avoid some minimum of gruesomeness, but director Ron Howard didn't dwell in the pain Mel Gibson style nor make you really feel the pain Tarantino style. The idea was horrible enough on its own, and Howard just keep the film moving forward, focused on uncovering and foiling the diabolical plot. This film, more so than The Da Vinci Code, did keep moving. It was able to convey just enough of the symbology to keep it comprehensible, without letting symbology lectures bog down the pace of the adventure. The writers did a great job of paring down the lengthy book to its core plot without losing the essentials. The book had a few more twists and turns, and some elements got altered, but I think the story survived the surgery in good shape. In fact the alterations were enough to jar me into questioning how the film might end, even though I had read the book. So much the better! Tom Hanks reprises Robert Langdon, and seems even better at the character the second time out (although as the LA Times surmised, perhaps it was just that he had such bad hair in The Da Vinci Code, a distraction not repeated here). And Ewan McGregor is very convincing as the Cammerlengo, once I got over the shock of the fact that they'd changed the character to be Irish instead of Italian. The other performances were all good, although I had trouble understanding what Pierfrancesco Favino (Commander Olivetti) was saying. The other star of this show was the cinematography, delivering awesome visuals of St. Peter's Basilica and Square, the pageantry of the College of Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel, and many other impressive sights around Rome. This feat is all the more impressive considering I don't think they were allowed to use most of the actual sites to film in. It will be worth buying the DVD when it comes out just to see the behind-the-scenes "making-of" tracks. But don't wait for the DVD to see this film. You'll want to get the full impact on the big screen.

1 comment:

regina di roma said...

Agree fully, could have been way more gruesome :) Now for some REAL
Angels and Demons in Rome