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· Senior Shackster
791 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Author, Dan Brown and director, Ron Howard seem to be a good match
and team adapting his books to popular feature films.

The character, Langdon, made his first appearance in this book but
because "The Da Vinci Code" was made before this movie they re-wrote
it to give the impression it's a sequel.

I enjoy Brown's books which successfully combine religion with the mystery/thriller
genres. The plots are completely implausible but the narrative momentum is so quick
you don't have the time to ponder them. His chapters tend to be very short with cliff
hanger endings which distracts readers from thinking too much.

Brown is obviously focussed if not obsessed with Vatican politics and duplicity.
Howard is more interested in making mainstream movies so he cleverly tones the
stories down while keeping the themes intact. Both movies work for what
they are although this one has a much faster pace than "The Da Vinci Code".

This time there are two 'ticking bomb' plot devices which help to maintain suspense.
The sinister, ancient 'Illuminati' cabal has kidnapped four Bishops who are the most likely
successors to a recently deceased Pope. One will be killed each hour. Simulateously
the group has stolen some 'anti-matter' from a lab which is unstable and will explode.
It's hidden somewhere in the Vatican so the professor is called in to find clues to
discover it's location before everyone is blown to Kingdom Come. Lending a hand in
Langdon's quest is a female scientist who helped develop the device and knows how
to disarm it and a high ranking priest. Of course no one is who they seem to be and
there are lots of plot twists before the climax. Tom Hank plays Langdon
again and is fine in the role. He looks a little worse for wear this time around and has abandoned the
seventies' haircut. I guess running around with Jesus's great, great, great, great grand daughter
took it's toll. Ewan McGregor is also good as the priest who assists him. Attractive Israeli actress,
Ayelet Zurer plays the female scientist. There's a funny cameo by Howard's father playing a
Bishop at the end. I'd rather not give too many plot details so those who haven't read
the book will be prepared for the surprises.

What's the anti-matter with the film? The weak element in that unlike "The Da Vinci Code"
there is no chemistry between Hanks and Zurer which is a falt of the script because
it initially appears if they are going to be a romantic team. When they are separated
for a portion of the running time and then re-united, neither seems to have
missed the other. Perhaps Langdon was wary about becoming involved with another
mystery woman of unknown ancestry. She might turn out to be distantly related to Moses
but nothing comes of this relationship. In fact her character is irrelevant to the plot.

Sound absurd. Well it is but so are most 'conspiracy' movies so if you go with the flow
it's a lot of fun to watch providing you don't take his narratives seriously. I guess some
readers and moviegoers do which is why they're controversial. However, Brown's general
theme is that absolute power corrupts absolutely which is certainly universal in all
countries and cultures throughout history. Too much centrally controlled power will go
to a leader's head which applies to religion, politics and science. They will do anything,
including deceipt and murder, to obtain and retain that power regardless of how noble
their intentions sound. So Brown's interest in Vatican politics and policies over the
centuries makes good material for this 'high' or 'higher' concept. Howard adds some
dialogue explaining that all people are flawed which accounts for the flaws in religious
leaders which takes some of the edge off Brown's world view.

The simulated Vatican locations and sets work fine within the context of the picture.
The photography is rather dark and underlit like the previous one in this series but
the Blu Ray sharpness helps offset that and black levels are acceptable. The bright
red robes of the Cardinals helps draw attention away from the low key lighting design.
The 5.1 surround sound is excellent and there are some fun rear channel whooses when
the camera zooms around the anti-matter machine.

I guess the main flaw in the movie is that it's structure is so dependent on surprise and shock
twists, once you know them you might not feel inclined to screen it again. Also, while Ron
Howard is certainly a good director along the lines of MGM's Victor Fleming, he doesn't seem to
have an individual style that film-makers like Tim Burton, David Linch or Martin Scorsese incorporate
in their movies which makes them worthy of repeat viewings.

I haven't had the time to watch the suppliments yet. On the menu you
have the choice of theatrical or extended version. I saw the latter and the difference
appears to be in the level of gore and violence. The MPAA was going to give the film
an R classifcation so they toned down the cinema prints to obtain a PG-13. I suggest
seeing the R version if you're not sensitive to blood.

I recommend this movie to those who like Dan Brown's conspiracy thrillers and don't object
to it's anti-clerical theme. You might want to do a quick on line research of the Vatican
Heirarchy before screening it so you're familiar with the chain of command if you haven't read
the novel.

· Banned
22,725 Posts
This actually sounds more promising to me than the first movie, which I totally did not get and simply could not follow. I know the Bible fairly well and the first was definitely not Biblically based. It may have had more to do with the Catholic religion, which I do not fully understand... and maybe that was why it was so hard for me to follow.

· Senior Shackster
791 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
I've heard that complaint from others who didn't read the novels which goes into more
detail. However this movie is not difficult to follow since it's basically a chase story
that takes place in the Vatican. No outrageous claims about the origins or ancestry
of the religion. They just have to save some Bishops and disarm a bomb. Why the
bad guys would leave clues for Hanks to stop them is never explained but you're not
supposed to think about these things when watching these types of films. There's
a old interview with Hitchcock where the person asks him why the protagonist didn't
just call the cops instead of taking action on his own and the director replied, "Because
that would be dull". The same applies here. Who cares why the villains decided to
leave a trail of symbols for Langdon to stop them before they destroyed the Vatican.
It's fun to watch him try to decypher it and be a hero.

I did like "The Da Vinci Code" feature and the extended version does explain some
things left out of the theatrical cut.

I hope they make the third movie about the Langdon character, "The Last Symbol".
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