|Angels & Demons (2009)|
|Written by Noah Fleming|
|Friday, 20 November 2009|
“The Da Vinci Code” was highly anticipated, but ultimately a letdown. It is difficult to turn a complicated book into a movie, but the filmmakers took too many liberties with the story arcs. Unfortunately, the same goes for “Angels & Demons.” There are many holes and jumps in the story. To compare, the Harry Potter books have been turned into films that capture the audience. While numerous items have been changed or removed from the story contained in the book, the film still manages to flow without interruption. The same cannot be said for “Angels & Demons.” It is obvious where the filmmakers changed the story or left parts out. If you don’t believe simply read the book and you will realize how the story was truly meant to unfold.
In the sequel, Tom Hanks reprises his role as Professor Langdon, a symbologist dedicated to religious history. When it appears that the ancient society of the Illuminati return to wreck havoc on the Vatican, Langdon is called upon by the Swiss Guard and Vatican police to help solve the kidnapping of four cardinals. This comes upon the death of the Pope and the meeting of the cardinals to elect a new Pope. The four kidnapped cardinals are thought to be the top four in the running for the position of the Pope.
A message informs them that each of the four cardinals are to be sacrificed in the name of science starting a 8pm and continuing on the hour. To complicate matters, a Swiss scientific corporation has created antimatter on the largest scale known to man. One of the antimatter canisters was stolen from their lab and is now the destruction by light device that will destroy all of Vatican City. Langdon dedicates his time to trying to uncover the path upon which the cardinals will be sacrificed. Each cardinal is sacrificed in accordance with an angel and a church. It is Langdon’s job to uncover the clues to get to the next location before the next cardinal is murdered. It is obvious that he will be unsuccessful in the first few attempts.
As Langdon draws nearer to finding the cardinals and the kidnapper, more conspiracies at the Vatican are uncovered. It is a mystery film, so it is to be expected that someone in the upper echelons of the Vatican is only pretending to be on the side of Langdon. I won’t name who, but it is pretty obvious from the get go.
Sony gives us a Blu-ray with a quite decent 1080p/AVC transfer with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Like some movies, the image is going to loved by some and hated by others. I am still undecided in many ways about the video quality. However, here are the facts. The image is virtually grain free. However, this presents an entirely too smooth of an image in my opinion. Depth is quite good. Black levels provide nice support to the dimensionality. The film is primarily dark. Shadow delineation does suffer during the dimly lit sequences. While backgrounds remain nicely detailed and textured, the details get lost on characters’ clothing. The black suits and priest outfits constantly lose definition. That is probably my biggest gripe about the video. Colors are sparse, however the red of the cardinals’ outfits are rich and stable. There is no bleed from one red uniform to another. Edges are crisp and sharp. Textures hardly ever falter. Fleshtones remain neutral and natural throughout the film. There are occasional banding and crushing artifacts present in the image, but this is rare. I am going to say that most viewers will be pleased with the image. However, I happen to miss the film-like texture. Note: There are English subtitles for translation of the Italian conversations. However, please be aware that these subtitles extend out of the 2.40:1 frame. So, technically, this video transfer is 1.78:1. This will cause issues with constant height projection systems.
The strongest part of this Blu-ray disc is the audio track. While there is definitely room for improvement, the DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is quite active. Immersion is noticeable right off the bat. Room ambience is nearly always present. Rear speaker activity does not contain much in the way of discreet sound effects, but it is completely enveloping. The LFE channel is solid and strong. However, there are instances in which the LFE channel should have been more present. Dialogue is very strong. The transfer is technically perfect in this aspect. However, the production dialogue wavers in certain scenes. I cannot fault the transfer for this. Dynamics are good, but not quite expansive enough. Frequency response is fairly even. Overall this is a great audio track that will surely capture audiences.
“Angels & Demons” comes in a three-disc package. There are two Blu-ray discs and a Digital Copy. The first disc contains the theatrical and extended cuts of the film. The extended version of the film is eight minutes longer, but doesn’t offer much additional information. The first disc also contains Sony’s movieIQ track and the cinechat function that allows you to chat with your friends while watching the film. The only other thing on the first disc is a selection of previews.
“The Path of Illumination” is the biggest feature on the second disc. This feature allows you to take a tour through the Vatican, exploring various churches and sites. You can access text and video information on each area. “Rome Was Not Built in a Day” contains interviews with the filmmakers as to the design of the film. “Writing ‘Angels & Demons’” goes beyond the scenes with Dan Brown and the writers as to the adaptation of the book to the screen. “Characters in Search of the True Story” has interviews with the cast members. “CERN: Pushing the Frontiers of Knowledge” takes a look at the research center. “Handling Props” goes beyond the prop design of the film. “’Angels & Demons:’ The Full Story” is a typical making-of featurette. Lastly, “This is an Ambigram” introduces us to the inspiration for the lead character, John Langdon.
“Angels & Demons” is certainly much better than its predecessor. It still isn’t true to the book, but it is entertaining. The video transfer is questionable depending on your tastes. The audio is quite good. I recommend this title.