Another (well, the second) Dan Brown adaptation and already things are wearing thin. I will confess that Angels & Demons is a better film than The Da Vinci Code, partly because of the beautiful scenery in Rome. However, the stilted dialogue still glares and a couple of the plot points from the novel are missing for no readily apparent reason.
Plot-in-a-nutshell: A new Pope is being elected, but the four main contenders have been kidnapped with a threat to kill them publicly released by the culprit. So of course, The Vatican calls in a symbologist. As you do.
The film is fairly close to the novel aside from the aforementioned slight discrepancies. Unfortunately, this means there’s a lot of scientific inaccuracy and a plot which is – to a large extent – fairly predictable. Oh, and awful dialogue. Don’t get me wrong, Dan Brown, or at least his publisher,Â is owed a thank you for bringing his type of novel into the popular mainstream. However, there are many authors who’ve done a better job of it than he has. His stories are good, but his writing’s dreadful. By keeping the film so close to the book, these weaknesses also transfer over.
Obvious differences are references to the events of the first film. Obvious as the original Angels & Demons novel was actually published and took place before The Da Vinci Code. If there’s anything more forced it’s that the film studio have offered Brown a fortune to write a third novel just so they can film that as well. Please, no.
Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not a bad film, as such. It’s just – like the novels – it could have been so much better. The story’s pretty good, the history (apocryphal or otherwise) is a good basis, the set pieces are well done but it’s just hand-holding story-telling. It’s A to B to C to climax with laborious explanations at each turn. In a novel, it’s easy to make this an aside but more of a challenge in a film. As the whole story revolves around historical events, there’s no end of explanation. Interesting, but very stop/start.
The cast are OK but like the film just nothing special – all by-the-numbers. Tom Hanks can do so much better and Ewan McGregor needs to pick one accent and stick to it. His Irish/Scots/English mash-up is just painful.
So as an adaptation, it’s not one of the worst being quite faithful to the original material. As a film, though, it’s a bit of a let-down.