Because of the recent surprise Papal resignation and subsequent election at the Vatican, we checked “Angels and Demons” out of the library yesterday and watched it last night. And so I must break my vow to lay off the bad movie reviews on my blog: this movie is just too awful to pass unreviewed. I’m going to leave the illuminati, pedophilia, and money laundering out of my review entirely (as does the movie itself; it gets the story of the illuminati wrong, wrong, wrong, while ignoring anything negative about the Vatican), and focus on production values, or lack thereof.
The epic score begins before the movie actually starts, revving up the instant the Columbia Pictures logo appears, and doesn’t let go until the end credits. It’s like one giant violin, choral, and kettle drum crescendo—a cheap trick to create tension where there is none. The tense, ever-building score plays constantly even in the slow scenes, in an effort to drown out bad dialogue. On to Tom Hanks, who I assume took this crappy role as a contractual obligation after “The DaVinci Code.” The first we see of Tom is a gratuitous ass shot, zooming in on his speedoed buns in a pool. The man is too old for gratuitous ass shots, they belong to his “Bachelor Party” years. I’m not a big Tom Hanks fan, but I concede he has made some decent movies, and he is an excellent businessman; he maneuvered himself from junk sitcoms to Hollywood blockbusters.
In “Angels and Demons” Tom plays a blowhard professor, nay, pompous ass. He’s got nothing to work with, and nothing is what he delivers. Ron Howard, the director of this two thumbs down fiasco, apparently gave Tom permission to pass on all facial expressions; he stares apathetically at the camera, tossing out one bomb after another: “I need a map of Rome, and I need it now.” And, with even less emotion: “I think someone just tried to kill me…but who?” Dan Brown, author of “Angels and Demons” and “The DaVinci Code” is a bad writer; he stumbled onto a good story and made a pile of money—in terms of craft, well, a determined seventh grader could best him. Onscreen, this plot falls flat with a resounding thud, dragging on through two painful hours. Even after all potential “action” is over, there’s twenty more minutes of stupid dialogue, which I guess is tacked on as an explanation of the previous convoluded hour and a half—not unlike an episode of “Kojak,” or, “Murder, She Wrote.”
Really, the only thing that made this movie worth watching at all were the shots of Rome and its many churches and piazzas. Which brings me to the next plot hole; the story is set in Rome in the summer, when there should be thousands of tourists clogging the streets—posing for photos, buying gelato, etc. But no, Tom Hanks runs spastically through the empty streets of Rome, busting open locked chapel doors with his buff bare hands. Take away the elaborate churches, marble fountains, and frenetic music, and this movie is nothing more than a bored Tom Hanks staring blankly at a no-name Italian actress, the female lead (whose main talent appears to be speaking Italian). I could go on about the ridiculous plot, or the priest who inexplicably pilots a helicopter above St. Peter’s Square, then parachutes out and lands on five people (just before this, he branded himself with a hot iron—but, being Action Priest, he’s impervious to pain, tearing out of the Vatican to pilot the chopper), but why give this abomination any more room on my blog. Oh Ron Howard, what unholiness you have wrought!