Friday, May 15, 2009

ANGELS & DEMONS

Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellan Skarsgard,
Armin Mueller Stahl, Pierfrancesco Favino


"The holiest event of our time. Perfect for their return."


Cinema 9, Robinsons Galleria




I read this Dan Brown fictional novel and actually preferred it over "The Da Vinci Code".

It is set in Rome and the Vatican in particular. A place I've visited several times and never grow tired from exploring its many nooks and crannies. A beguiling city steeped with historical, architectural and religious splendor.
The narrative is laden with intriguing stories of a secret society called the Illuminati. Who doesn't love them conspiracy theories? Throw in a side plot of an invention called the Anti Matter which could revolutionize the science world.
It also brought back Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) to solve another mystery which strives on cryptic symbols with implied meanings and have him chase for clues all around Rome which is now a massive crime scene!

So I was indeed looking forward to the film adaptation which is brought to you by the same team which thrilled us with "The Da Vinci Code", Ron Howard and Tom Hanks. Suffice to say, I found myself also liking this film way better than the previous offering.

For one, it took liberties in veering away from some aspects of the novel without compromising on the main story. It was still fast paced, suspenseful and full of intrigue.

Secondly, the slick cinematography was spot on. From wide shot angles of the Vatican, the narrow streets of Rome to the picturesque tourist attractions like the majestic fountains and the obelisks, everything was authentically captured visually. A feast of cutting edge technology and digital imagery spliced with real gorgeous locales. I was especially impressed with the way they portrayed the Archives department of the Vatican. Great scenes with very artistic and descriptive images of a place I believe very few have actually set foot in.

Thirdly, the cast were all in sync. From the main characters of Langdon (Tom Hanks), Vittoria (Ayelet Zurer) and the Camerlengo to the supporting roles, they were all convincing. Tom Hanks is in his best element as the symbologist Langdon. And dare I say his hairdo has also improved in a nice aesthetic manner. Ewan McGregor was subtly subdued. I did expect a more 'hysterical' (for lack of a better word) performance from him as the Camerlengo. If you read the book, you might grasp what I'm talking about. You also have steady performances from Stellan Skarsgard and veteran actor Armin Mueller-Stahl.

Fourth, the various side plots did complement the main story line. The international feel of the book was well presented in the film. Some characters speaking in different languages with English subtitles, of course. I wish though that they allotted more imagery on the 4 Cardinals in "captivity". The gripping torture scenes in the novel were very descriptive and highly symbolic. They were the best parts in the book, for me. That might be my sadistic side talking but I guess it was too graphic to be shown on screen. There were also some really incredulous scenes which looked good on paper (in the novel) but they were totally off key and too grandiose on screen. But overall the story line was coherent and solid with a good musical score added on for some exciting dramatic effect.

Lastly, there has been a lot of controversy over the main subject matter of the book and now the film. I watched it with my husband who has not read the novel. He has always had a philosophical view about life and everything else in general so give or take a few valid observations he made about the 'flaws' of the film, he did enjoy it nonetheless. The fact remains that despite the many critiques of how Catholicism and in particular the Holy Church is portrayed, my belief and my faith as a Roman Catholic remains intact. It won't take a film nor a novel to convince me, otherwise.

On that note, I do recommend the film. See it for what it is - pure entertainment! Nothing more and nothing less!

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