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Published:14 May 2009
Tom Hank, plays Professor Robert Langdon in Angels and Demons
Tom Hank, plays Professor Robert Langdon in Angels and Demons
Angels, demons and a hellish film experience!

Directed by Ron Howard
Certificate 12a

DAN Brown may be a publishing phenomenon whose pulp fiction has millions of dedicated followers, but the film adaptations of his best-selling quasi-religious thrillers fail completely to capture the fast-paced, trashy fun he wallops through in his writing.
And this film, which brings back symbologist Professor Robert Langdon to unravel the usual dastardly plot, takes a poor story and turns it into a virtually unfollowable romp through the Renaissance churches of Rome.
One of the problems facing lead man Langdon (Tom Hanks) is the large tranches of gooble-di-gook he and his sidekick physicist Vittoria Vetra (Ayelt Zurer) are asked to say with a deadly, deadly serious faces on, while poor Ewan McGregor’s lines are as silly as anything he had to spout in the new Star Wars flicks.
With such a heavy slant on cod-Latin phrases and totally unbelievable faux-Catholic mysticalism right from the start, it’s just impossible to take it seriously.
We meet Langdon in his east coast university, idly lecturing à la Indiana Jones despite the excitement he caused in the Da Vinci Code. But his Massachusetts idyll is shattered when a Vatican envoy rushes to his book-lined office and spurts out that there is a dastardly plot afoot that only he can possibly thwart.
The Pope has died and while the new pontiff is being chosen, a deadly plan has been uncovered. Four of the “Preferri” – the bishops who possibly could become the next head of the church – have been kidnapped by a secret anti-clerical society called the “Illumanti” and are going to be branded with mysterious symbols and killed in wonderfully original ways.
To make matters worse, a bomb has been planted somewhere in the city state and will explode at midnight – taking the whole centre of the Catholic Church with it.
This is no ordinary bomb, it is a funky looking test tube of anti-matter, stolen from the Hadron Collider project in Switzerland. You remember the machine that was turned on last year to smash atoms against each other and reproduce the Big Bang? Well, the anti-matter bomb is the product of that experiment to find the “God Particle”.
Brown’s base for his novel is the war between religion and science, and whether this can ever be settled.
But while on the pages of a trashy holiday read such premises can be simply played out with the reader allowed to use their imaginations to fill in the many, many holes in the story, on screen it is just far too preposterous to hold the imagination, and the physics and philosophy is explained in such clunking language it’s as painful as sitting through a GCSE science exam.
Other passages, which occur frequently, extol the greatness of the Catholic Church and seem to merely have been put in place to deflect any criticism Christians may have, as they did for the Da Vinci Code.
Most of the action takes place under ornate manhole covers or along narrow stone staircases.
It fails to use the exciting streets of a Pope-less Rome to any great extent.
The twist at the end fails to surprise and if this is what his agent is lining up for him, you can understand why McGregor has taken time out from the movies to drive large motorbikes in the wilderness.
Total, utter, drivel.

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