Angels & Demons

Angels & Demons (2009)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellan Skarsgard
Extras: Extended Version, Featurettes, Interviews, movieIQ, cineChat

When it comes to Dan Brown's novels – or film adaptations for that matter – audiences appear to be extremely polarized. People seem to either love or hate his thrillers that consist of a blend of history, religion, and fiction. Personally, I enjoyed "The DaVinci Code" very much and was eagerly looking forward to seeing "Angels & Demons."

Shortly after the Pope has passed away, symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is approached by the Vatican for help. Evidently, just before the beginning of the conclave, the process during which the collective cardinals lock themselves away to vote for a new pope, four of the top candidates for the position have been kidnapped from the Vatican. Armed with antimatter stolen from the Hadron Collider in Cern, Switzerland, the kidnapper promises to kill each of the cardinals in sequence until ultimately extinguishing the Vatican with his antimatter bomb.

Step by step, professor Langdon tries to unravel the subtle clues and hints the kidnapper has accidentally provided, hoping to be able to safe not only the cardinals but the tens of thousands of people visiting the Vatican and Rome during this important time in their religion.

Playing like a taut action thriller, "Angels & Demons" has everything that made "The DaVince Code" so successful. It combines religious intrigue with historical facts and fiction to create a wold in which everything and everyone is suspect. With Tom Hanks in the lead, the film has immediate credibility and the stellar supporting cast, featuring the likes of Ewan McGregor, Stellan Skarsgard and Armin Mueller Stahl among others, helps giving the film real weight. The cinematography is wonderful, making every interior shot look like a mystery, a puzzle to be unravelled.

On the other hand, "Angels & Demons" has a number of series shortcomings. First and foremost, I found the film much too predictable. After the first 20 minutes I knew exactly how and where it would end even though I have not read the book. This, of course, takes a lot of wind out of the mystery story itself. In addition I found many moments in the film simply too convenient. Langdon's sidekick in the film is the physicist Vittoria, played by Ayelet Zurer. Very conveniently, she also turns out to be a crack art historian and symbologist, and at one point surprises everyone with her simple awesome toxicologic knowledge. What happened? Didn't she just collide hadrons a few minutes ago?

On this release, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is presenting "Angels & Demons" in its theatrical and an extended version, both in a pristine 1080p high definition transfer that looks simply marvelous. Highly detailed and razor sharp, the image is breathtaking as we explore some of the most famous sites of the Vatican and Rome, washed in deep shadows and vibrant hues. Every bit as rich and deep as one would hope, "Angels & Demons" is a wonderful sight to behold without any noticeable flaws.

The audio is equally impressive throughout. Whether the track reproduces the long reverberations inside the epic and magnificent Vatican buildings and churches, or whether it is during the explosive moments of intense action, the sound track has plenty of punch to offer, making for an aggressive and dynamic surround experience.

The 3-disc release also includes a great number of bonus materials, such as countless featurettes on the making of the film, the adaptation of the novel, the characters, the religious implications, the symbolism and countless other aspects that make this big budget production so notable. In addition, the version includes a number of BD Live features, such as Sony's movieChat and movieIQ trivia track, as well as an interactive map of Rome following the path of Illumination. Of course, a Digital Copy of the movie is also provided, as well as a Hans Zimmer endorsed version of Music Studio, the software the composer uses to prepare the music for the films he is working on.

"Angels & Demons" wasn't quite as good as "The DaVinci Code" I found and not quite as convincing in its unravelling of the mystery. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the thrill ride that "Angels & Demons" provided for the time being and there can be no doubt that this Blu-Ray version is well worth the price of admission.