Newest Review: ... Its a race against time as Robert tries to solve clues to save the cardinals and the Vatican. Special features on my DVD include; First... more
Scenery angelic, book adaptation demonic
Angels and Demons (DVD)
Member Name: tartlette
Angels and Demons (DVD)
Advantages: Great scenery, good story, some good acting
Disadvantages: Too different from the book, lack of character development
Dan Brown's books have become something of a phenomenon. Millions of copies have been sold and yet I managed to avoid reading any of his books. Even my Dad (who doesn't really do books) had read them. I don't know why I never read them because I read plenty of other Dan Brown type books, but they sat on my bookshelf collecting dust (they were donations after my Dad had read them). I did, however, see the film of the Da Vinci Code. I read reviews and most people seemed to say that it was nowhere near as good as the book but as I hadn't read the book I really enjoyed the film. I thought the storyline was clever, I liked the different settings and thought the acting wasn't too bad either. When I heard that the prequel to the Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, was being made into a film I knew that I would go and see it. This time though, Mr Tart insisted that we both read the book before we went to see the film to see how they compared, herein lies the fatal error with this film!!
In the film we meet Robert Langdon. Those of you who have seen the other film or read the books will know that Langdon is a Harvard professor who teaches art history. The film has not been made as a prequel but as a sequel but there is only one reference to the first film so it is not a problem if you haven't seen it. Langdon is called by CERN (the place in Switzerland that's trying to re-create the Big Bang), because one of their scientists has been brutally murdered. Langdon and the obligatory female side-kick (another CERN scientist, Vittoria Vetra) then follow the trail of the murder through the streets of Rome. In Rome, the Pope has died and the cardinals have gathered for the election of the new pope. However, four of the cardinals have been kidnapped by the same group who murdered the scientist. The group are the Illuminati, an order founded in the sixteenth century, who have fought against the Catholic Church. Not only are they threatening to kill the cardinals, they are also threatening to blow up St. Peter's Basilica, the very heart of the Catholic Church.
Robert Langdon is played by Tom Hanks. I really like Hanks and think he's a really good actor. He can come across as a little wooden sometimes but I think he's well suited to this role. Langdon is meant to be a Harvard professor so casting a tough guy in the role would not have worked.
Vittoria Vetra is played by Ayelet Zurer. She's not someone who I had heard of, which isn't really surprising as she's certainly not a Hollywood A-lister. She's actually Israeli and most of her work has been in TV and film in Israel. I thought she was pretty good in the role.
The other major role, played by Ewan McGregor, is that of Father Patrick McKenna, the old Pope's camerlengo. McGregor is one of my favourite actors. I like the fact that he does independent films as well as the bigger films like this and I think he's very versatile. He gave a great performance in this film.
The support cast was also good. I especially liked Armin Mueller-Stahl as Cardinal Strauss and Stellan Skarsgård as Commander Richter.
So, I had read the book and really enjoyed it. I thought it was very clever. I don't think Brown is the best writer in the world but his stories certainly have that page-turning quality. I knew in my heart that I would be disappointed by the film no matter what as it just always seems to be the way with good books. However, I still wanted to give it a go and I was especially looking forward to seeing some of the scenery.
My first problem with the film is that it actually bears little resemblance to some parts of the book. I understand why they did it. The book is over 600 pages long and that is almost impossible to translate into a film that isn't 6 hours long. However, there were such huge discrepancies that I sometimes wondered if the scriptwriter had read certain parts of the book. For example, in the book, the murdered scientist is also the father of Vittoria and this is not mentioned in the film. One thing that really annoyed me was that in the book the Camerlengo is Italian, whereas in the film he is an Irishman with a completely different name. Perhaps this was done because McGregor couldn't do an Italian accent (???) but it just seemed like an unnecessary change.
One of the creepiest characters from the book, the Hassassin, is not really covered very well in the film. In the film his character is not explored at all and he just doesn't come across as intensely as in the book. Another major character not brought into the film at all is Maximilian Kholer, who in the book is the director of CERN. Although the film does make sense without him, they did have to leave out quite a bit to cut the character.
The sets of the film were great. The film is set mainly in Rome and Rome is one of my favourite cities. I loved reading about all the different churches in the book and was looking forward to seeing them all on the screen. I wasn't disappointed. The scenery was spectacular. I knew that the indoor shots were all done back in the USA due to the Catholic Church refusing permission to film in the churches themselves, but they had obviously been researched meticulously. I would not have been able to tell that I wasn't looking at the real St. Peter's.
The film is directed by Ron Howard (still can't quite marry him up with Ritchie from Happy Days!). Apparently Howard used handheld cameras to add realist motion to some of the more exciting scenes. I think this worked really well, the film seemed quite fast-paced and I liked the direction.
I was a little disappointed with the character development in the film. Again, I'm aware that there are time constraints that the book doesn't have to contend with, but I felt the characters were quite one-dimensional. There was very little background to the characters' stories and I just think that the story makes more sense if you know this.
It all seems a bit negative so far doesn't it! I don't think the film is actually that bad as a stand alone thing. However, I had read the book and it just proved to be a let down after the book. If you haven't read the book, I think you would enjoy the film. . It is definitely a good idea to read the book at some point if you watch the film as it will make things a bit clearer. There are moments in the film where Langdon just comes up with ideas but in the book you see that he does have thought processes!
To recommend or not? Well, despite my negativity about comparisons with the book I would still recommend the film. I still enjoyed it a lot. The scenes set in Rome made it worthwhile for me. Getting to look Ewan McGregor helped......! It is very entertaining, the acting is good and the action is exciting. I can imagine that if you haven't read the book, the twists in the plot will be enough to entertain as they are surprising at times. So, watch the film, but don't expect to be blown away, just expect to be entertained for a couple of hours.
Summary: Entertaining but not quite good enough