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Ghost Canyon

'Angels & Demons'
(Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, et al / DVD / PG-13 / 2009 / Sony Pictures)

Overview: In Ron Howard's thrilling follow-up to The Da Vinci Code, expert symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) follows ancient clues on a heart-racing hunt through Rome to find the four Cardinals kidnapped by the deadly secret society, the Illuminati. With the Cardinals' lives on the line, and the Camerlengo (Ewan McGregor) desperate for help, Langdon embarks on a nonstop, action-packed race through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, and the most secretive vault on Earth!

DVD Verdict: 'Angels and Demons' is another of Dan Brown's complicated conspiracy thrillers. Not as good as 'The Da Vinci Code' but along the same lines, again starring Tom Hanks as the symbologist, Robert Langdon. This time it's the death of a pope and a great deal of intrigue in the Vatican. As usual there's mumbo jumbo, hokum, hocus pocus, wild hectic headlong helter-skelter chases and quests.

The movie unwinds at a fast pace so you don't have time to question the idiocies and intricacies of the convoluted plot. Even though he is hated by the Catholic Church because of his machinations in "Code," Hanks is called in because four cardinals have been kidnapped and Vatican City may be in extreme danger. He is joined by a female scientist in the case though no love interest seems to develop. She is trying to get back some highly explosive anti-matter that her lab has produced.

The trail leads to a series of four churches in Rome where a missing cardinal is to be found. The trail is similar to the rose line in "Code." A secret society, the Illuminati, with moles within the Vatican itself are the culprits, and you'll probably be struck dumb when you find out what they are up to. How a person parachutes from a helicopter at the crucial moment may baffle you.

The crowds in St. Peter's Square, waiting for the election of the new pope, are shown frequently. The cardinals are meeting in a consistory in the Sistine Chapel to choose a papal successor.

The movie has some great shots of Rome, the Vatican, and some great reenactments of ceremonies within the Vatican. The scenes, though staged, seem very authentic.

Some of the film which, at times, is difficult to follow seems more opaque and obtuse because of some severe editing. Amid the skullduggery a monsignor in a skull cap is shown very briefly, and he comes into play several times. It's very difficult to figure out what he's up to and which side he's on. It's the good guys versus the bad guys, but we're not too sure about the motives of the good guys.

Tom Hanks, though in charge, sometimes acts as mystified as we are by events, but, hey, he's already read the script, hasn't he? If you're looking for an exciting thriller, this may be up your aisle, but don't look for too much clarity or common sense. [JFR] This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

Rome Was Not Built In A Day
Writing Angels & Demons
Characters In Search Of The True Story
CERN: Pushing the Frontiers of Knowledge