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Non-Review Review: Angels & Demons

Well, the only way to go from The DaVince Code was up, right? Good, because this doesn’t go too far up, lest you get all excited. It’s a fairly run-of-the-mill chase movie without any charm or wit or intelligence (and severely lacking in logic, one might add). It commits the cardinal sin (he he, cardinal… geddit?) of thinking that it is far smarter than it actually is, and it never manages to be particularly exciting or engaging. Still, Ron Howard can’t completely hide his talent amid a jumble of half-baked action sequences and illogical clues.

Try as you may, you can't outrun the inevitable threequel, Hanks!

Try as you may, you can't outrun the inevitable threequel, Hanks!

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Hair-Raising Thriller

As the release of Angels & Demons approaches, I have one question. Just one question about Tom Hanks’ intrepid symbologist’s symbologist, Robert Langdon. It’s not why everyone seems to turn to him when they have a problem probably more suited to… well, the police. Or how he never seems to need to look anything up, ever. Or what he does when he’s not uncovering the seemingly endless array of underground Catholic-themed conspiracies (I reckon it’s a niche market). Nope, but I sense it may be related to the above. My question is this: what the hell is going on with his hair?

Seriously, who convinced Tom Hanks, let alone Ron Howard it was good idea? In hindsight maybe it was, as perhaps it distracted me away from the poor plotting, pacing and action in The DaVinci Code – indeed, I dislike it a lot less than most critics. Perhaps it’s designed to hide the movie’s plot hole, like some sort of plot-hole-cloaking device. Hell, the Angels & Demons features a plot to destroy the Vatican with dark matter (you gotta give those plotters props for creativity – not even the laws of physics can stop them! Mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha!).


"This is so awkward... We've all got the same hair..."

In fairness, Hanks is doing his best to downplay the hair – perhaps he’s afraid be being upstaged? – placing the blame on stylist Manny Miller, who tells the movie’s stories through hair apparently. Though, it that’s the case, Hanks really didn’t need the hair upgrade – thinning seems rather adequate for the movie on hand. Perhaps they should have George-Lucas-ed the recent box set edition of the first movie to tone the hair down a bit. I can’t think of any other reason people might consider having a DaVinci Code boxset. Perhaps if it came with your own Robert Langdon wig…

I apologise if I’m being flippant, but it really is quite distracting. It looks greasy and sleazy – two things that Hanks couldn’t be if he tried. Langdon looks like he’s selling pills at an disco, not a world-renowned expert in symbology. Even the news that the ponytail is gone doesn’t relax me none, though it is a good sign that even the screenwriter thought the hair was a bit too much. Maybe for the inevitable third part of the trilogy.

The film looks like a by-the-numbers thriller, and is getting pasted by critics. I’ll admit I haven’t read the book (The DeVinci Code was enough Dan Brown for me), but I didn’t find The DaVinci Code film too offending (it managed to be less patronising than the book). Not stellar, but not terrible. I imagine I’ll catch this sometime, but probably not in the cinema.


Angels & Demons is the new film from Ron Howard (Apollo 13, Frost/Nixon), starring Tom Hanks (Cast Away, Forrest Gump), Ewan McGregor (the Star Wars prequels, Shallow Grave) and Tom Hanks’ hair. It opens worldwide tomorrow, 14th May 2009.

It was the summer of 2009…

Lately I’ve taken a bit of interest in Box Office numbers – I figure that might distract me from the fact Ryan Tuberty is hosting the Late Late. And looking at the few months ahead of us, I can see this being a very big summer for the US box office. In fact, I can see the film industry beating the recession with a large stick (cinema generally does quite well during recessions as it’s well, cheap), thanks to a fairly epic and broad lineup of blockbuster films.

It seems that just about every film this year is a sequel or prequel. Some (Angels & Demons) are both – it’s complicated (the book is a prequel the film is a sequel). We’ve had a relatively strong introduction to the season with the two prequels on offer. Neither Star Trek nor Wolverine broke any major records (though the Imax thing is pretty neat, as is the biggest second-week in May ever). I can see Star Trek having the legs to last in the background at least a month (which, given the onslaught of bigger movies and the disappointing staying power of other would be blockbusters, is really something).

Even before we reach the end of the month, we’ll have the second Dan Brown film, which can’t do too badly with a cast like Ewan McGregor and Tom Hanks and a cult following among a slightly older demographic usually ignored, the fourth Terminator film, which should do big business despite all the reasons that geeks have to worry, and the kid-friendly A Night at the Museum. Rounding off the month’s smaller (pbut possibly slow-burning) releases are Pixar’s Up and Sam Raimi’s return to cult horror with Drag Me to Hell. Again, neither should set opening weekend alight, but I’d expect a decent amount of business from either or both.

Then we have the traditional summer months. Summer movies have been creeping in earlier and earlier (Watchmen was arguably better suited to a summer release; Iron Man last year set the official start-of-season bell back at least a few weeks), but your meat-and-potatoes are here. These are the movies that cannot possibly fail, they are just that wired-in to cheesy pop sentiment. Michale Bay will confirm his title to the throne of summer blockbusters with a brainless sequel to a feature-length toy commercial with Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, but even he will likely have to stand in the shade created by what most commentators have settled on as the biggest money-spinner of the year, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. The series has built in devotees that Star Trek can only dream about, and they will be out in full force along with any parent looking to entertain a child over the summer months. This and the fact that my sources within the fan community tell me this is the best book points to a right to print money.

I think that GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra may falter as a brand with relatively little name recognition, despite the most over-qualified cast ever – Christopher Eccleston, people! On the other hand, I really hope that Michael Mann’s Public Enemies can do at least respectably, as the man generally delivers and has an amazing cast at his disposal.

All that said, I wouldn’t expect anyone to dethrone The Dark Knight or Titanic. I just think that culminatively the box office should be huge, but it could hugely backfire and lead to blockbuster fatigue, though I doubt it. It’ll be interesting to read the end-of-year numbers.

After that there’s the lonely Autumn followed by the glut of awards-bait. I’m already hyped about some of the movies we won’t be seeing on this side of the Atlantic for another nine months, but I’ll talk about them some other time.