DVD/Blu-ray Reviews

Angels & Demons - DVD Review



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What a fantastic ride! Half way into 2009 and critics are already calling it the year of the prequels. Although Dan Brown's novel of the same name was originally written before the Da Vinci Code, director Ron Howard successfully brings out Brown's engaging story line as a culmination of events and seamlessly integrates both novels with this finale in the form of a sequel. While the Da Vinci Code was hyped to a point of shaking the very foundations of Christianity, most viewers walked away with their faith unscathed, because that film was meant to entertain, rather than question beliefs of the dearly beloved. That formula works in this film too, with an edge of your seat plot featuring a non stop adventure within and around the Vatican.

Angels & DemonsOnce again, Harvard professor Robert Langdon is hired for his skills as a symbologist, this time by the Catholic Church seeking an investigation into an imminent threat within the Vatican. Shortly after the demise of the Pope, prospective cardinals eligible for elections as the new Pope are kidnapped and brutally murdered one by one, in and around the Vatican City. Even as the remaining cardinals seek refuge in the Sistine Chapel, Langdon learns of a much greater danger to the Vatican. A canister containing extremely powerful yet volatile anti-matter has been stolen from the CERN scientific facility in Geneva and is held somewhere with the holy city with the sole intention of mass devastation and destruction of the most revered division within the Roman Catholic Church. Central to the plot is the rise to power by the former Pope's protégé, Fr. Patrick McKenna. Chillingly played by Evan McGregor, Fr. Patrick may hold the key to an unnerving mystery unfolding within the holy grounds of the Vatican. While uncovering a thickening shroud behind the mysterious death of the Pope and close on the heels of an assassin, Langdon and CERN scientist Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer) now find themselves in a race against time, only to be caught in a war between the scientifically oriented Illuminati and the Catholic Church dating back four hundred years.

At this point, it is quite certain that a vast majority of the audience would have read the book before watching the movie, especially after the highly controversial best seller The Da Vinci Code. Irrespective of Brown's fan base, it is Howard's exemplary gift of making a movie as good or better that the book it is sourced from, notably, his multi-Academy Award winning A Beautiful Mind and Apollo 13 (also with Tom Hanks). Besides his rendition from literature to cinema, what works for him here are an array of well placed components that is sure to make this one of the highest grossing films this year. Acting, to begin with, is just stellar starting with Tom Hanks as the non-believer symbologist linking together history, science and religion. Somewhat overshadowing Hanks is McGregor superbly portraying an under aged priest vying for the Pontifical position with supreme veneration for the cause of Christianity. Add to that, Stellan Skarsgard as the steely eyed leader of Vatican's exclusive Swiss Guard and Armin Mueller-Stahl as the head Cardinal with moral obligations towards the Church. Cinematography is magnificent in scale, allowing for some virtual tourism of stunning albeit digitally recreated locations of the Vatican. This alone should generate a few positive nods from the higher echelons of the Church as tourism is sure to be beefed up in the region, especially after the fact that Europe now offers The Da Vinci Tour where tourists are taken to all the locations featured in the novel. Also returning for a second time is the overwhelming Chevaliers de Sangreal. Composed by Hans Zimmer, this sequence is already available as a downloadable cell phone ring tone.

Aside from the great plot, suspense driven action, spectacular sound and visuals and perfect acting, Brown's final message may not be all that blasphemous as previously perceived. For argument sake, at least one of the following statements is true: God made man. Man made religion. If religion is flawed today, maybe we should look within our own flawed selves before waging war in the name of God.


Component Grades
Movie
DVD
4 stars
4 stars
DVD Experience
4 stars

DVD

DVD Details:

Screen Formats: 2.40:1

Subtitles: English, French, French-Canadian.

Language and Sound: Closed Captioned; English: Dolby Digital 5.1 French-Canadian: Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; making-of featurette; additional featurettes.

Supplements

Featurettes:

  • Rome Was Not Built In A Day
  • Writing Angels & Demons
  • Characters In Search Of The True Story
  • CERN: Pushing the Frontiers of Knowledge

Number of Discs: 1 with Keepcase Packaging

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