The reviews keep coming in, and the verdict is the same: Angels & Demons is not very good at all. In other words, don’t waste your money.
If you enjoyed either the novel, or the movie, or both — especially if you’re Catholic — please read through to the bottom.
Thursday, I posted some excerpts of and links to reviews. But, the one I was really waiting for is finally in. Steven D. Greydanus, who runs Decent Films, is the best film critic I know. Here are his grades for Angels & Demons:
- Overall – D
- Artistic/Entertainment Value – 2.5 stars
- Moral/Spiritual Value – negative 2
- Age Appropriateness – Teens and Up
I’d like to give a couple of quotes so you’ll have the flavor of his critique. SDG is the only reviewer I’ve seen to point out what is a hard-to-swallow aspect of the film:
Well, that’s what happens when you tell the story out of order. Dan Brown wrote The Da Vinci Code as a sequel to his novel Angels & Demons, but the movies reverse the order — so we now have Langdon running around Rome trying to save high-ranking officials of what he already knows is a false religion that’s been murdering people for centuries to cover up the lie on which the institution is founded.
The bottom line, for those who care about such things, is this. Once you’ve established that your story is set in a world in which Jesus Christ is explicitly not God, and the Catholic religion is a known fraud perpetuated by murder and cover-ups, it sort of sucks the wind out of whatever story it was you were going to tell us next. Langdon could be ironing his chinos and helping little old ladies across the street, and it would still be set in that world, and those who care about such things will find it hard to bracket that and just go along with the thrill machine.
SDG is a Catholic film critic, so some of you might expect him to pan the film. However, even non-Catholics think the film stinks. Ann Rodgers, writing in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette, says, “Angels & Demons is an exercise in Catholic-bashing that falls short because author Dan Brown doesn’t know enough about Catholicism to create a convincing distortion of it.”
Speaking of secular critics, the movie has a 37% ROTTEN rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Here’s the consensus from that website: “Angels and Demons is a fast-paced thrill ride, and an improvement on the last Dan Brown adaptation, but the storyline too often wavers between implausible and ridiculous, and does not translate effectively to the big screen.”
Let me give one more link to a VERY SOLID REVIEW, done by Carl E. Olson, of Ignatius Press. (Ignatius Press, by the way, is my favorite book publishing company. It is the official American publisher for Pope Benedict XVI/Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. I wish I could own a copy of every book and DVD in its catalogue.)
If you liked the novel/movie/both, please follow this link to Carl’s article and read it. it does a great job of explaining why Brown’s work is so odious to Catholics — and why it should be odious to people who like their facts to be … well, factual. His review contains very valuable links to a wealth of TRUE information, not just stuff made up.
Here’s a sample of what Carl has to say:
Alas, we were all rather underwhelmed; on the plus side, none of us fell asleep. Where The Da Vinci Code was dull, pretentious, and openly anti-Catholic, Angels & Demons is methodical, pedestrian, and quite silly. The production values are good, the directing is solid, the effects are decent, and the acting ranges from mediocre (Hanks) to above average (Ewan McGregor).
Dan Brown is just as bad at plotting as he is at writing, and his inability to create characters who are believable is equaled only by his inability to accurately represent the history, art, architecture, and technology found strewn throughout novel/movie. (One of my friends, a professional historian who rarely watches movies, was especially repulsed by the movie’s failure to accurately describe or identify any historical figure or event mentioned throughout the overly long film.)
Tom Hanks and Ron Howard, in their desire to run Catholicism into the ground, are not doing much for their career legacies with these Dan Brown vehicles. However, they’ll probably do well enough financially to call them a success.