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Interesting Review For “Angels and Demons”

May 15, 2009

I am far more interested in the new Star Trek film this weekend than the latest Dan Brown novel to hit the big screen.  So why do I post here about “Angels and Demons”?  Because the reviewer for the The New York Times, A.O. Scott, writes with such a punch that it deserves a bit of play here.  In fact, his review may be better than the movie.

Since “Angels & Demons” takes place mainly in the Vatican, and is festooned with the rites and ornaments of Roman Catholicism, I might as well begin with a confession. I have not read the novel by Dan Brown on which this film (directed, like its predecessor, “The Da Vinci Code,” by Ron Howard) is based. I have come to believe that to do so would be a sin against my faith, not in the Church of Rome but in the English language, a noble and beleaguered institution against which Mr. Brown practices vile and unspeakable blasphemy.

 

And it was partly, perhaps, because I chose to remain innocent of the book that I was able to enjoy “Angels & Demons” more than “The Da Vinci Code,” which opened almost exactly three years ago to an international critical hissy fit and global box office rapture. (The novel “Angels & Demons “was published three years before “The Da Vinci Code.”) 

This movie, without being particularly good, is nonetheless far less hysterical than “Da Vinci.” Its preposterous narrative, efficiently rendered by the blue-chip screenwriting team of Akiva Goldsman and David Koepp, unfolds with the locomotive elegance of a Tintin comic or an episode of “Murder, She Wrote.” Mr. Howard’s direction combines the visual charm of mass-produced postcards with the mental stimulation of an easy Monday crossword puzzle. It could be worse.

The only people likely to be offended by “Angels & Demons” are those who persist in their adherence to the fading dogma that popular entertainment should earn its acclaim through excellence and originality. It is therefore not surprising that the public reaction so far has been notably calm. Theological hyperventilation has been minimal, and Columbia Pictures has not been accused of falsifying the history or corrupting the morals of Western civilization.

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