Angels & Demons
Director: Ron Howard

It’s a funny thing about Dan Brown’s books. They make great beach reads, but transformed to the screen, at least under the direction of the utterly vanilla Ron Howard, they come across as almost laughable.

The best that can be said about Angels & Demons is that it’s more of a conventional thriller and less talky than its predecessor The Da Vinci Code, and that Tom Hanks is no longer getting his hair cut at Fort Apache.

Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon (Hanks), first seen in Da Vinci (although technically this one is the prequel), is the butter knife of action blades. He’s a man so bland and nerdy, not even Tom Hanks’s acting prowess can enliven him. He’s completely uninterested in sex, even when he’s close to steamy Ayelet Zurer, who succeeds The Da Vinci’s Audrey Tautou as the brainy female sidekick.

Angels & Demons concerns a plot to blow up St. Peter’s Basilica hatched by a secret society of Catholic fanatics called the Illuminati, who harbour a 200-year-old grudge.

Their weapon is a battery-powered anti-matter canister. Illuminati are also threatening to kill four top cardinals, one per hour, leading up to midnight. Oh, and there’s a papal conclave going on, since the Pope just died, in less than providential circumstances.

An eyeball-rolling prologue sets up the film’s science vs. religion subtext in the midst of an eyeball-gouging murder.

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