Firstly: Major spoiler alert!
Secondly: I am a sucker for trashy action/thriller/fantasy flicks, which perhaps explains why I exist in a state of near constant debt to the local video store for failing to return Hellboy or Journey to the Centre of the Earth on time.
Thirdly: The DaVinci Code was on TV the other week. In accordance with the aforesaid suckerishness, I’d seen it at the movies, but seeing as how the TV was already on, and the remote was all the way over there, and I was just mucking around on the laptop anyway, I ended up watching most of it again.
Which is why, last night, my husband and I shelled out something in the vicinity of fifty bucks to see Angels and Demons, no less than seventeen dollars of which paid for two medium drinks and a packet of peanut M&Ms. Out of morbid curiosity, I had the popcorn jockey, who looked about nine, explain the individual pricings to me in a slow voice. There should be some kind of Goddam law prohibing the sale of readily attainable junk at 200% markup, or maybe I just need a radioelectric shock collar that activates when I and my wallet come within a ten meter radius of the candybar, which, by the way, is a stupid American word that I resent using.
So, Angels and Demons. If you want to see Tom Hanks explaining why male statues in the Vatican have had their penises replaced with fig leaves, it’s really your best bet, although contrary to one review I read, there are no exploding priests. Which isn’t to say it’s dull: the plot moves along swiftly, there are several nice lines, the cast is well-picked and Ewan McGregor does a fantastic job as the Camerlengo. The physics is complete and utter rubbish, of course, and even had I not been able to tell for myself, it was confirmed by a friend whose father is a senior engineer at CERN. Fortunately, any attempts at scientific explanation take a backseat to Ayelet Zurer being anxious about battery life and hurrying a good deal. There’s a lot of exposition, but the run-time, though long, didn’t feel inappropriate, and as a nice touch, there were no strawmen among the religious characters.
The biggest problem comes from Dan Brown’s tendency to reuse the same twist. Thus, one can summarise both Angels and Demons and The DaVinci Code as follows: The Superficially Good Guy Is Actually The Bad Guy, While The Superficially Bad Guy Is Really Just A Zealous Police Officer Trying To Do His Job. Which means, if you are even slightly cynical, that the entire film is spent waiting for Ewan McGregor to stop being helpful and start snarling – which, true to form, he eventually does. Though disappointed, I salvaged some cheering geekery from the notion of Obi-Wan Kenobi playing an essential Palpatine, wielding power through his benign visage and a Sith Lord’s talent for deception. My husband rolled his eyes and reminded me that not everything can or should be reduced to Star Wars, but in this instance, I begged to differ.
Angels and Demons is not a bad film. Neither is it brilliant. Unless you’ve got a yen for the big screen, you’re probably better off waiting for DVD, but if you go, you’ll at least have something to talk about afterwards. And often, that’s the best part of any film.