Until Death Do Us Part - Jonas

Isnin, Mei 18, 2009

#435. Angels & Demon [2009] : Corn-spiracy theory

Not many people – aside from this reviewer – seem to remember a 1970s cartoon from Depatie-Freleng Enterprises called Bailey’s Comets.Kind of a take-off on Hanna-Barbera’s Wacky Races, it had these bizarre teams on roller skates going all over the world on a treasure hunt-type quest to win a million dollars.

Whenever they picked up the trail to the next part of their quest, Bailey and his gang would go (if memory serves me right): “Let’s skate-a-roo – to the next clue!” before speeding off.That’s what I was reminded of throughout this latest Dan Brown-derived thriller of epic distortions, with Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon (Hanks) and his associates dashing off solving “puzzles” and unearthing clues for most of the film’s length.

At times during Angels & Demons, it also felt like I was watching someone play a linear, very arbitrary computer adventure game: Go to Location A and stop Event X from happening. Oh no, you’re too late! Now, find a clue to Location B to stop Event Y. Dammit, too late again! Repeat cycle and … skate-a-roo to the next clue!

As our hero does so, he encounters overzealous security men, stone-faced clergymen, and the world’s most naïve hitman (and therefore, given his choice of profession, the world’s dumbest as well).

The biggest improvement in Angels & Demons – actually published before The Da Vinci Code but presented here as a “sequel” of sorts – over its predecessor is the much less disturbing hairdo sported by Langdon.

Then there’s also the pacing (much better here), the scope and the thrill factor which are all a cut above the previous film.

In this one, Bob-no-mullet Langdon is called in by Vatican security to help find four cardinals who have been kidnapped just before the papal conclave sits to elect a new Pope, following the death of the previous one.

A long-dormant secret society called the Illuminati claims responsibility, and threatens to murder one cardinal every hour. Its operatives have also stolen a canister of anti-matter from a research facility and plan to blow up Vatican City with it.

This is apparently an act of revenge for “La Purga”, an alleged incident in 1668 in which the Catholic Church supposedly branded and executed four of the Illuminati’s principal members.

All well and good, even if the Illuminati were not founded until 1776 (look it up) and in Bavaria, to boot. Time travel and geographical displacement? We’re in Lost territory now, it seems.

Whoa, boy. I come not to debunk Angels & Demons, merely to discuss its merits as a movie.

And I must say that, viewed as a sprawling, frequently exciting (if ultimately corny and goofy) thriller, it does have its moments and holds the viewer’s attention quite well.

From what I’ve heard, not having read the novel myself, Howard and his associates have taken some of the howlers and patently silly notions out of Brown’s book, although they have in turn committed some gaffes of their own (such as making the assassin such a dope).

On the whole, though, this is slick filmmaking from the veteran Howard, who makes it all whizz past so quickly that you don’t have time to hold a light up and scrutinize the goings-on.

From time to time, though, its conceit shines through so glaringly you can’t help but do a double-take.

In one amusing scene, for example, a serious-faced Langdon scoffs at a group of people in the Vatican who go all blank-faced when he talks about La Purga. “You guys don’t even read your own history, do you?” he says.

Bob, they probably did read their history, which is why they didn’t recognize that drivel you were spouting. Darn, there I go again….

Source : The Star Online
By Davin Arul

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