Angels & Demons to me is the pinnacle of the “Dan Brown” trilogy, as it doesn’t rely so much on the conspiracy aspect I was talking about while reviewing The Da Vinci Code (my review can be found here) and it’s almost like a quest game, where you are on a timer, need to solve one puzzle, so you can move to another one, and while this is happening, one of the best music composers of all time is doing his magic and orchestrates amazing piece of score, that to this day, is criminally underrated.
I think the change of scenery really helped to distinguish this not-so-sequel (remember, even though this is a second movie of this “franchise”, the book was released prior to The Da Vinci Code) and made it more vibrant and different. And focusing the story on this mystery (Illuminati, possibly murdered pope) that’s mixed with action and scenes of Tom Hanks and Ayelet Zurer running throughout Rome… it feels really fresh and very unlike the first movie, as it doesn’t really let you rest, in a good way.
A big part of this is due to this movie’s soundtrack, and I do need to talk about Hans Zimmer for a bit. I remember when this movie came out and I’ve seen it in the cinemas for the first time, I wasn’t actually as convinced as I am now (don’t get me wrong, I liked it, just not as much as I thought I would) but what I loved instantly was the soundtrack. So much so, I had downloaded it to my phone I had back then, and while working my summer part time job, it was keeping me awake in the mornings. And that doesn’t happen often. I know plenty of people are really into music and soundtracks, and I can definitely appreciate great soundtrack, but I am not one of them. It only happened a few times, that I would download the entire soundtrack, that I would listen on a repeat for a fair number of days to come. I honestly do believe when fans discuss and rank Zimmer’s work, this movie is often omitted, as plenty of people dismiss it. Which I never understood. Sure, in his long career, he’s definitely scored better rated movies, but even though Angels & Demons is admittedly not as great as The Dark Knight (2008), Gladiator (2000) or The Lion King (1994), that doesn’t mean this score is any worse. I’d argue this must be in his TOP 3, easily.
What also really worked for me are the rest of cast around the main star – Ewan McGregor has long been one of my favourite actors, Stellan Skarsgård is always a welcome addition to any movie and Ayelet Zurer worked for me more than Audrey Tautou, as she had better (for lack of a better word) chemistry with Hanks. I am not saying Audrey was bad in The Da Vinci Code, not at all, I just thought Ayelet stood out more to me, maybe she’s had a flashier role…?
The other thing I’ve always loved about this film is that they actually shot this in Rome. There is always something about actors being on a location, rather than crammed in a green screen studio, acting opposite a wall. Even though the CGI we have now is almost unbelievable, it’s the word “almost” that spoils it for me, as there is always something about mostly CGI locations, where they either feel not great enough, or too perfect/airbrushed that my brain doesn’t fully believe in what is happening right in front of me. Plus, even though I am not a religious person by any means, I’ve always wanted to visit Rome and even Vatican to see the landmarks, churches, the artwork. Maybe one day…
Only thing that “spoils” this movie just a tiny bit for me, happens about 20 minutes before the end. It’s nothing to do with the story (even though, if you properly analyse it, I know you could find a lot of plot holes) but there is a CGI of one particular thing/event, that looks so “rubbery” it always takes me out of the movie for a bit. I don’t want to spoil anything, but once you see it, I willing to bet you will know what I am talking about.
But other than that, this is my jam. Angels & Demons isn’t a perfect movie by any means. Is it entertaining though? Hell yeah! And, I cannot stress this enough, the soundtrack uplifts this movie by at least a grade higher. I swear to… pope I guess, if it wasn’t for Hans Zimmer and for his magnificent work, I don’t think my rating would have been as high. One of the best examples of a movie, where a soundtrack takes “a pretty good film” and makes it into “a pretty great film”.
That’s all for this one! Did you see it? What did you think about it? Let me know!
Until next time,