Angels & Demons (2009) - Two-Disc Theatrical and Extended Edition [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Mystery / Thriller
Sony || PG13 - 146 minutes - $39.95 || November 24, 2009
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2009-11-13


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Ron Howard
Writer(s): Dan Brown (novel); David Koepp and Akiva Goldsman (screenplay)
Cast:


Theatrical Release Date: May 15, 2009


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Theatrical and Extended Edition
  • 7 Featurettes
  • movieIQ
  • Cinechat
  • Interactive Feature
  • BD-Live
  • Digital Copy


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

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.::THE FILM::.

After my second viewing, my opinion remains the same as when I saw it in theaters. Now, I did watch the “Extended Version” but despite the additional 8-minutes, I couldn’t really tell what was new...

THEATRICAL REVIEW:
Angels & Demons, the sequel to 2006’s The Da Vinci Code, was originally slated for a 2008 release but due to the writers’ strike, it was delayed. Many, myself included, felt The Da Vinci Code was a bloated and boring adaptation to a controversial international best seller that told the story that Jesus took on a wife and his bloodline still existed. However, where there was extreme interest in Da Vinci, such controversies were basically non-existent with Angels & Demons.

Is A & D a better movie than the original? Not that it was too hard to do, but yes. It is still an expositional talk-fest as Harvard symbolist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is summoned by, of all people, the Vatican as four cardinals have been kidnapped on the eve of a conclave (the pope had just died). The party responsible is the Vatican’s old nemesis, the Illuminati, a group long dormant and out for revenge threatening to kill each cardinal in a painful and public way every hour. Now Langdon and physicist Vittoria (Ayelet Zurer), whose colleague was murdered at the opening of the film, race around Vatican City. Oh, and that physicist was murdered to steal some anti-matter that if becomes unstable would make a major boom-bam-boom at the stroke of midnight...

Assisting on the race against time are Camerlengo Patrick McKenna (Ewan McGregor), Commander Richter (Stellan Skarsgård) of the Swiss Guard and Inspector Olivetti (Pierfrancesco Favino) of the Vatican police.

** Note: This section may contain spoilers. **

The movie isn’t particularly interesting as it seems the characters were more invested in the events than the audience ever was and as many flaws The Da Vinci Code had, it at least had a more layered plot and an international flair (Paris to England to Scotland), neither of which Angels & Demons contained. Instead, 95% of the movie takes place in Vatican City and it’s a fairly linear story with an even more predictable ultimate villain as director Ron Howard, plus in large part screenwriters David Koepp and Akiva Goldsman and author Dan Brown, don’t disguise him that well. Howard and company painfully point to a couple characters which then in turn pointed to that character we should least expect.

** End Spoilers **

In any case, Angels & Demons isn’t as bad as the original primarily because of Tom Hanks’ charisma, which is the only reason. Like no other actor, Hanks is a man who could read the phone book and we would all lean forward with fascination, even if the story in this case was less interesting than a phone book. Good news is, while the first half of the film is quite slow and even partially confusing especially during the development of the anti-matter (don’t ask), it picks up pace as our intrepid characters run around Vatican City while within the Vatican, Catholic politics erupts as a new pope must be selected (and the leading candidates have been kidnapped).

The supporting cast is decent enough, though nobody particularly stands out. Ewan McGregor is a fine actor and plays his role nicely, but he lacked the substance compared to someone like Alfred Molina or Jean Reno; Stellan Skarsgård is, as always, suspicious enough but not very effective and Ayete Zurer as the solo female character is surprisingly duller than Audrey Tatou.

I guess if anything in this film impressed me; it was the recreation of St. Peter’s Square, a location critical to the film’s plot. Much how set designers were able to recreate Louvre Museum for certain shots. But that’s as far as it goes for the film. It’s a movie that when it was all done I could care less about. It’s not particularly awful or even boring, but it also wasn’t very good. It’s a movie that I probably will forget within a few days.

Sure, Angels & Demons may not be as much of a bore as The Da Vinci Code, it still has plenty of problems especially with a plodding storyline and still quite a bit of exposition.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Once again, we are left without a commentary track, which makes me wonder if we’ll see a special edition before the third movie comes out... Anyway, this Blu-ray release comes in an HD Keep Case (double the width of a standard BD case) with 3-discs even though the front states it is two-discs.

Disc 1:
Theatrical and Extended Versions – Although both cuts are available on DVD, you would have to buy the single and two-disc sets in order to have them both, but they are on one disc for the Blu-ray viewers so you can choose which version to watch. The exact time difference between the two is 7:48.

movieIQ – This feature is where you can check out trivia about the film or filmography of the cast and crew. Not really worth the time IMO but perhaps while watching you wanted to know what other movies so-and-so had been in, it might be worth it. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Cinechat is another feature where you can connect with other viewers and chat while watching the movie. In theory it’s cool, but someone could just use IM chat instead. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

And finally there is a BD-Live portal to check out trailers for other Sony titles. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Disc 2:
Rome Was Not Built in a Day (17:30) takes a look at the making of Angels & Demons from the production, costume design, production design, visual effects, music, etc. It’s a decent featurette giving insights from the crew about their respective departments.

Writing Angels & Demons (10:09) – Author Dan Brown and Screenwriters David Koepp and Akiva Goldsman, along with Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, discuss adapting the novel into a feature film.

Characters in Search of the True Story (17:10) – This featurette guides us through each major character featured in the film with that actor talking about their purpose with the plot.

CERN: Pushing the Frontiers of Knowledge (14:52) – A look at one of the world’s largest and most respected scientific research centers. This is kind of cool featurette into the facility that is very important in research but one we, the general population, know nothing about.

Handling Props (11:35) is an ordinary featurette focusing on creating the props for the film from the books, rings, guns, etc. I’ll give them credit for leaving no stone unturned with the making of the film.

Angles & Demons: The Full Story (9:46) – This is the main ‘making-of’ featurette where we check out some behind-the-scenes footage intermingled with comments from the cast and crew. Not too bad for a basic ‘making-of’.

This is an Ambigram (4:46) – An ambigram is a word that can be read from more than one viewpoint, so right side up or upside down. This features greatly into the plot and a nice little info featurette into ambigrams.

The Path of Illumination – Follow Robert Langdon’s journey through Rome and unlock hidden secrets of the Illuminati. This is a game (I guess) where when you unlock these secrets, you can check out historical facts, film clips and behind-the-scenes footage. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Disc 3:
The third disc contains a digital copy (** Blu-ray Exclusive **) of the extended version of the film.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Angels & Demons is presented with a 2.40 aspect ratio and 1080p high-definition. The picture while unremarkable looks on par with what I remember seeing on the big screen. Black levels aren’t the best but the detail level on the faces and the skin tones look good. I noticed no obvious scratches and dust nor any use of DNR or edge enhancement, though there is a little bit of noise at times. The way the movie was shot, it’s fairly dark so it won’t pop off the screen like other films, but for the home theater experience, it delivers.

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is pretty effective providing a little bit of everything. You have a couple explosions, cars whipping through Rome, a ton of dialogue and Hans Zimmer’s wonderful score. Although I was a tad underwhelmed, this track is good with the dialogue clear through the center channel and explosions booming. The rear channels get some use for ambient noise. I will note that the audio did drop out a few times throughout the film, but that might be a case with having the extended version used via branching.



.::OVERALL::.

While Angels & Demons is a slight step up from The Da Vinci Code as the pacing is a little better, it still never quite strikes the right chord. Instead of the audience being proactive with the puzzles we follow Langdon around Rome and Vatican City from one place to another all the time you really don’t care about the outcome. The main reason the film works at all is Tom Hanks. He’s not especially great in the role but he does add some weight to the script and the cast as a whole. If you didn’t care for Da Vinci, I’m not sure if A & D will be your cup of tea, though I do think it is ever so slightly better.