Angels & Demons is an insult to intelligent people worldwide

by Ben

I have no idea where to begin my commentary. I find myself at a complete loss for critical analysis or witty metaphors hours following its credit roll. In fact, I have no notion of what I have just witnessed; surely it was not a film based on Dan Brown’s 2000 novel “Angels & Demons.” Where was Maximilian Kohler? Gunther Glick and his bitchy videographer Chinita Macri? Three of the novel’s most important supporting cast members are utterly absent, and a melange of crucial alterations transform an excellent and thrilling narrative into a confusing and insulting dick slap to Brown’s literary genius. The entire genesis of Brown’s text (approximately thirty percent of the unexpurgated tome) is mauled into a five minute convoluted sequence and random asides throughout the course of the film -and even these have negligible connections to the book or its contents. Veritably, Angels & Demons is the grossest, most abhorrent text-to-film adaptation in the history of cinema, and Ron Howard ought to be publicly and brutally punished and excommunicated from the motion picture industry permanently.

Rarely have I come away from an experience with such large quantities of anger. What’s worse, Angels & Demons takes itself dreadfully serious; epic choral music dominates the soundtrack, vast digitally-created set pieces rise into the sky, and a mammoth antimatter detonation monopolises the latter part of the film. Not once does the picture pause and exclaim “yes, I am a horrific film personification of an excellent novel. I have unnecessarily altered vast amounts of the source material and I do so shamelessly.” I have devised a list to better illustrate three key areas that Ron Howard’s Angels & Demons fucks up (note: I have been posed the query “why not judge the merits of the film alone, why deprecate the connections to the novel?” Because the film would not exist without Dan Brown’s novel; the film is direct progeny of the novel. As such, the film cannot be adjudicated without drawing context from its source material. This is especially vital considering how viral and high-profile the novel and its sequel are.):

1. Pivotal cast members are mysteriously absent. Maximilian Kohler, the director of CERN, is entirely eliminated. In the novel, he is crucial from the outset as he incorporates Robert Langdon into the narrative; as an expert in “Symbology,” Langdon is asked by Kohler to identify the symbol branded on Leonardo Vetra’s chest (another character who is almost entirely removed save for a brief offhand comment…and his eyeball). In the latter stages, Kohler is heralded as “the 11th Hour Samaritan,” swooping in to provide the Church with crucial information. Likewise, sagacious BBC reporter Gunther Glick and his jovial videographer Chinita Macri are omitted. This duo is the important link between the cardinal murders, the world press, and the populace. Glick and Macri chase Langdon throughout Rome and report on his actions, constantly make slanderous accusations regarding all sorts of secret societies (including an allegation against CERN which further casts doubt on Kohler while he remains the main suspect), and eventually broadcast the Camerlengo’s meltdown from within Vatican City. Without these characters, little about Angels & Demons makes sense under its shiny facade.

2. Young Obi-Wan Kenobi’s character has been altered from Camerlengo Carlo Ventresca -an Italian- to Patrick McKenna -a North Irishman. Furthermore, he is the adopted son of the late Pope and not the biological son conceived through artificial insemination with a nun. This eliminates the source of Ventresca’s hatred of science and his ties to CERN as a the Vatican’s liaison. This isn’t necessarily critical to the flow of the film, yet it would have provided massive backstory allowing audiences to connect emotionally to the Camerlengo -and greater shock at his betrayal.

3. The Hassassin, a brutal and animalistic Arabic hitman in Brown’s text has been curiously transmogrified into a bespectacled caucasian named Mr. Gray, who appears about as harmless as Gertrude Baines. In the novel, this Hassassin kidnaps Vittoria and brings her to the Church of Illumination for a fun-filled evening of sexual deviancy. Langdon follows the path and, alone, sleuths into the castle and joins up with Vittoria, who tag-team the Hassassin over the balcony to his demise -not a fucking carbomb. According to this alternative, was the Camerlengo an expert bomb craftsman in his spare time, tinkering away in Vatican City with explosives? Then, of course, did he transport this bomb across Rome and -unbeknownst to the professional human exterminator- stash it in his car. The Bible really does catechise all to one with an open heart! At last, I can discover how to create a billions from my fresh turd.

These are the three superlative errors in Angels & Demons; of course, there remains very long, very detailed list of fallacies committed by this heinous film (explore them here). Had I inspected the picture on its own merits, my conclusion would remain identical. Performances, considering this is a fuckspensive international release mega-blockbuster following the most controversial tale of the century, are deplorable. Nearly every line is delivered while the actor is in motion (an intentional design by the brilliant Ron Howard), creating an out-of-breath dialogue between characters which seems as if no one has the patience to sit still and voice the damn words. Hans Zimmer’s score is chock-full of Gregorian chanters who overzealously decorate the entire audio track with their ooos and aaahs. Sets are lifeless and claustrophobic; the Necropolis and Papal burial crypts are about as thrilling as a new pair of socks (and are nothing like their novel counterparts). Scenes jump illogically to and fro, and a number of characters are introduced for no particular reason and swiftly eliminated without proper development on screen. It is as though the film playing is Angels & Demons 2 and everyone ought to be fully aquainted with the characters…except we fucking are not.

Quite frankly, Ron Howard’s Angels & Demons (and I say it such because this sure as hell is not Dan Brown’s work) is a disgrace to the novel medium and a direct insult to the source book. Even on its own, it does not stand up to contemporary films technically or artistically. Unless you make sport of wasting your money, avoid at all costs. Consider yourself duly warned.

Conclusion: You will only enjoy this experience if you are an asshole.