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Movie Reviews

Film Review: “Angels & Demons”

(Columbia Pictures. 2 hours, 18 minutes. Rated PG-13 for sequences of violence, disturbing images and thematic material. Directed by Ron Howard.) Tom Hanks (Robert Langdon), Ewan MacGregor (Camerlengo), Ayelet Zurer (Vittoria Vetra), Stellan Skarsgard (Commander Richter), Armin Mueller-Stahl (Cardinal Strauss). Music by Hans Zimmer.

You don’t need to have seen The Da Vinci Code ($750 million worldwide box office) to follow what’s going on here. Yes, this is a better movie, but like the previous effort, it’s still very talky, especially in the first half. Hanks is back as everyone’s favorite symbologist, called on to jet to Rome during a time of crisis. The last pope is dead and a conclave is in session to elect the next leader of the Catholic Church. At this time of upheaval, four cardinals are kidnapped, with the threat that one will be killed each hour, followed by the bombing of the Vatican. Suspected is the Illuminati, a secret society hundreds of years old.

Science and religion come into conflict once again when it’s discovered that the potential bomb is a stolen vial of antimatter. Stirred into this crazy mix are the Camerlengo (right-hand man to the pontiff); wily Cardinal Strauss who presides over the papal election; and the lovely Italian scientist Vittoria Vetra, who dashes all over Rome with Langdon, tracking down purloined cardinals and that pesky vial while the clock tick, tick, ticks. After that slow first half, director Howard picks up the pace and keeps things moving, leading up to a pretty spectacular ending. The whole thing is wildly improbable, and sharp viewers who haven’t read the book may catch a certain scene that’s a bit of a tipoff. I did guess, but I still came away satisfied.