A lot of people flocked to theaters for the film version of Angels and Demons on its second day here in the Philippines. It would seem that Dan Brown’s stories have interested readers and viewers since the days of The Da Vinci Code, both novel and film. Unlike with The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons wasn’t able to draw in a box office number in the first two days. I remember on the third day of The Da Vinci Code, it was difficult getting inside the theater due to the large crowd that was trying to get in for better seats. Every corner of the cinema was full. The response for Angels and Demons, was good, but nothing compared to that brought about by The Da Vinci Code. Blame it, maybe, on the economic crisis, the A H1N1 flu, and the lessened criticism by the Catholic Church that could spark the public’s attention. However, Angels and Demons is definitely more entertaining than its precursor.
Anyway, for those who haven’t read the book or seen the movie yet, here’s a short gist: Angels and Demons is set at a time of the Pope’s death, and the synthesis of antimatter which is, accordingly, a substance made in The Creation and a key that could bridge the gap between religion and science. A potent energy source, the discovered antimatter is suspended in a canister because if it would come in contact with matter, the result would be an explosion big enough to eradicate an entire country, much like an A-bomb. Now, along with these events is the emergence of the Illuminati (an ancient brotherhood devoted to “enlightenment”) with a plot of retribution against the Catholic Church. Their plan? Kidnapping four preferati (“favorites” for the vacant seat of the Pope), killing them every hour starting at 8:00PM at the unknown “altars of science” located around the Vatican, then detonating a canister of antimatter hidden somewhere around the Vatican at 12:00MN, thus wiping out the whole of Vatican City including its churches, religious artifacts and statues, and religious people. Apparently, the four “altars of science” form a trail leading to a bigger vault, where possibly, the antimatter is hidden. The adventure would be in discovering and getting to the four altars first before the killings, then retrieving the antimatter before downtime at midnight. The discovery of this trail lies in the interpretation of the clues, symbols, historical passages, and statues around Vatican City. This interpretation is where Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks), a professor of religious symbology and iconology (and the story’s protagonist) comes in.
We will destroy your four pillars.
We will brand your preferiti and sacrifice them on the altars of science,
Then bring your church down upon you. Vatican City will be consumed by light,
A shining star at the end of the Path of Illumination.
–Mr. Gray’s (the unknown assassin) threat, Angels and Demons
The latest Langdon adventure on the big screen showcased the story faithfully from the novel, with some changes in the characters and places so as to make it realistically adept to the present world, and to decrease its already convoluted plot. All the scenes are exactly the same scenes I have thought of while reading the story (save for the changes, of course); like how the preferati were executed, the path that Langdon and Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer) went through, the words spoken by each character, the uniforms of the Swiss Guard, and the climactic stellar explosion created by the antimatter. There was one scene, that took me aback: smoking cardinals (because I never thought they would smoke). Also, there were changes that I thought shouldn’t have been done, like the fifth seal of the Illuminati: a symbol of crossed keys. In the novel, it was the combination of the first four seals (ambigrams bearing the words, “Earth”, “Air”, “Fire”, and “Water”), forming a diamond. It would have been remarkable seeing the fifth seal being revealed like in the original story. But anyway, the change was done for the story to proceed smoothly. Moreover, I thought that the explosion of the antimatter in the sky was a wonderful climax and that the story could just end there. The actual end was not that surprising (maybe because I have already read the book) but at least, due justice was rendered. I was glad one of the preferati was rescued in the film (and went on to become the Pope).
Angels and Demons was decently fast and full of engaging revelations. It possesses an ample amount of historical artifacts and beautiful sophisticated cinematography. Once the adventure starts, you’ll never get bored. I recommend reading the book first, nevertheless, because a first-timer to the story might not understand and enjoy it.