Movie Review: Angels & Demons

Angels & Demons
3 Lloyds – Not Family-Friendly
PG-13 for sequences of violence, disturbing images and thematic material.
Running Time: 2 hours 30 minutes


From the team behind The DaVinci Code movie, comes another flick based on the novel by Dan Brown. In Angels & Demons Tom Hanks reprises his role as Harvard religious expert Robert Langdon. This time around he once again discovers that forces with ancient roots are willing to stop at nothing, even murder, to advance their goals. Ron Howard is also back again to direct the film, which is produced by Brain Grazer, Ron Howard and John Calley.

It all starts when Langdon discovers evidence of the resurgence of an ancient secret brotherhood known as the Illuminati – the most powerful underground organization in history. In the midst of his adventure and search for truth, Langdon also faces a deadly threat to the existence of the secret organization’s most despised enemy – the Catholic Church.

Then, when Langdon discovers the clock is ticking on an unstoppable Illuminati time bomb, he flies off to Rome where he joins forces with Vittoria Vetra, an Italian scientist.

A Journey Through Crypts, Catacombs & More!

Angels & Demons is pretty much a nonstop, action-packed hunt through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs and deserted cathedrals. The movie also leads to a journey through the most secretive vault on earth as Langdon and Vetra follow a 400 year old trail of ancient symbols that mark the Vatican’s only hope for survival.

Right out of the gate I have to say if you’re a novel purist, you will see a glaring error in the production of this movie. Dan Brown’s novels are presented in reverse order. Angels & Demons was published in the year 2000 while the Da Vinci Code was published in 2003. Now, as we fast-forward to the movie world, the Da Vince Code hit the big screen in 2006 with Angels & Demons coming now, in 2009. But, throughout the movie, references are made to what’s gone before – Langdon’s Da Vinci Code adventure – this did not have to happen. In the words of Bruce Brown, a Twitter friend of mine, Ron Howard “Merlin’d” the series.

As for the Church hype centered around Angels & Demons, I have a simple reminder for all concerned…

This is a movie, based on a novel – It’s not fact…it’s entertainment.

Personally, I don’t see the argument that Dan Brown, Ron Howard, Tom Hanks, or anyone else associated with the movie are trying to give a black eye to the Church. If anything, Angels & Demons is sympathetic to the Catholic church. As Langdon works to save the kidnapped Cardinals he at one point asks the question – “Don’t you people know your own history?” – In my opinion, many of the accusations saying the movie attacks the Catholic church revolves around that very issue – people who do not know church history screaming foul.

A Fascinating Journey – But Once Again…Verbose

Ron Howard is an incredible director. But, he needs to discover some editing techniques. Ever since Apollo 13, Howard seems to think every movie needs to be well over 2 hours in length. As a result, Angels & Demons suffers the same fate as the novel. Actually, Angels & Demons suffers the same fate as its movie predecessor the Da Vinci Code. The novels, as well as the movies, are verbose. At times it’s almost like Ron Howard is less concerned with the actors and plotline, and more concerned with a “wow factor” for scenery.

The scenes are striking!

Once again Howard filmed much of the movie on location. While they were denied access to film inside the Vatican, the recreation of the Vatican sets are incredible! Yes, there’s lots of eye-candy in this movie. It’s not special effects eye-candy. It’s scenery eye-candy. Maybe Howard needs to revisit Mayberry to discover the simplicity of shooting film again. This movie could have been trimmed back to an hour 45 minutes with little effort. But alas, Ron Howard apparently does not know how to use an editing blade.

As for entertainment, intrigue, suspense and edge of your seat value, Angels & Demons has lots of that. Tom Hanks reprises his role as symbologist Robert Langdon quite well. If you like movies full of clues and puzzle pieces, this is a movie for you. Actually, Angels & Demons has more of a clue solving aspect to it than the Da Vinci Code. It also seems to move along at a better pace than the Da Vinci Code. At times the previous movie seemed rushed, rampant and frenzied. Such is not the case with Angels & Demons. While they are working against the clock, and it is a race against the clock, the overall pace of the movie seems more subdued than the Da Vinci Code. As a result, Angels & Demons is a stronger movie.

As for rating, Angels & Demons is far from family-friendly.

There’s simply too much violence, graphic violence at that, for this movie to be viewed by kids 16 and under. Even at the age of 16, it might be a good idea for parents to go to the movies with that age group. Once again we have a perfect example for the need of another rating instead of PG-13. The images are graphic, riveting and too disturbing for a younger audience. Angels & Demons actually contains more violence than the Da Vinci Code. This doesn’t make it a bad movie. It simply means this movie is not family-friendly.

Overall, as already mentioned, Angels & Demons has a lot going for it from an entertainment, intrigue and suspense level. If you enjoyed the novel, you will no doubt enjoy the movie. If you didn’t read the novel, but enjoy this genre, you will enjoy the movie. The plotline and suspense level actually contains a number of surprises along the way. While some scenes are predictable, the conclusion of the entire mystery is quite surprising. This movie did indeed make me say – “Wow! I didn’t see that coming!” As you know, when a movie makes me say that, it says a lot for the flick.

Enjoy the show!
Dr. Rus

About the Author

Dr. Rus has 30+ years experience in the field of communication. He takes this experience, and his passion to encourage others to positively effect their environment, when providing insight and movie reviews.