Page last updated at 09:58 GMT, Wednesday, 6 May 2009 10:58 UK

Press views: Angels and Demons

Tom Hanks and Ayelet Zurer in Angels and Demons
Angels and Demons sees Hanks (left) reprise his Da Vinci Code role

Angels and Demons, the sequel to controversial 2006 film The Da Vinci Code, opens in UK cinemas next week.

Directed by Ron Howard, the film sees Tom Hanks reprise his role as Harvard academic Robert Langdon.

Based on the novel by Dan Brown, Angels and Demons finds Langdon on the trail of a secret, centuries-old organisation plotting against the Catholic church.

The critics gave The Da Vinci Code a rough ride. So far, though, they have been more generous to its follow-up, as the following review excerpts show.


Ron Howard does a far superior job of filming Dan Brown's first Robert Langdon novel than he did with his lifeless blockbuster The Da Vinci Code.

Picking up the pace considerably and wisely trimming some of the more preposterous excesses of Brown's book, Angels and Demons is all the more intriguing for its setting in the murky halls of the Vatican and dusty churches of Rome.

Bound to be in the top tier of summer blockbusters, this thriller is nothing more than cheesy hokum.

But Howard's skills and those of his steely star Tom Hanks render it an entertaining crowd-pleaser which should give the first film's $758m worldwide gross a run for its money.


In Angels and Demons, director Ron Howard conspicuously gives top priority to the story's beat-the-clock thriller elements.

Less turgid and aggravating than its predecessor, this cleverly produced melodrama remains hamstrung by novelist's Dan Brown's laborious connect-the-dots plotting.

Tom Hanks is in much fitter condition than he appeared three years ago. He's also clearly changed hairdressers, a good move.

Although unlikely to match the worldwide haul of the same team's much-maligned Da Vinci sensation, this adaptation of a lesser-known Brown book will nonetheless make an unholy amount of money.


Plucking the same violent, occult strings as Da Vinci while avoiding its leadenness, Angels keeps the action coming for the best part of 139 minutes.

Taking to heart the critics' lament that the first Dan Brown novel-to-film was talky, static and arcane, director Ron Howard and his crew have worked hard to make Professor Robert Langdon's return a thrilling, faster-paced walk in the park.

Hanks fits more comfortably into the role of Langdon here, taking a moment to deliver some friendly one-liners.

This allows writers David Koepp and Akiva Goldsman to concentrate on what the audience wants to see: burning cardinals, spectacular explosions and incomparable reconstructions of Baroque Rome.


Shorter, tidier and altogether sharper. But enough on Tom Hanks' hair; how's the film?

Thankfully the same applies to this Da Vinci Code follow-up, director Ron Howard acting on the lessons he learnt from that bloated 2006 misstep to deliver an exciting, kinetic and engrossing thriller.

Writers David Koepp and Akiva Goldsman adhere fairly closely to Brown's plot, a harum-scarum caper that sees Hanks' urbane symbologist racing around Rome.

Sensibly, though, some of the author's crazier embellishments are jettisoned in a film that atones for The Da Vinci Code's cardinal sin - thou shalt not bore.


Given that it combines religious, scientific, political, art historical and academic lunacy in one package, Angels and Demons is at least more entertaining than the dreary, talky Da Vinci Code.

It's still a runabout with footnotes about clues embedded in Bernini statues, as if Renaissance art were all on a level with Where's Wally, but at least it's more urgent than last time.

However, there are problems with the film that wouldn't get past development if they weren't ported over from a presold hit book .

Every supporting character acts like an unhelpful idiot to keep the plot stirring, while yet again a seemingly all-powerful conspiracy seems to consist of two whole evil guys.

Angels & Demons opens in the UK on 14 May.

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