Angels & Demons

AD_INTL_1SHT_GLOW_2Despite its poor rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Marci and I decided to go see Angels & Demons this weekend. I had read the book a few years ago, but she hadn’t. Long story short? We enjoyed the movie.

I was somewhat concerned that it was too confusing if you hadn’t read the book, but Marci said that she didn’t have a problem with that. I do think there is an issue with the culmination of events toward the end in that the original scheme is never very clearly revealed.

Wondering why the reviews were so poor, I spent a few minutes reading through some of the negative reviews. One thing I found interesting was that several of the reviews actually mentioned that it was better than the first movie (The DaVinci Code). Given the success of that film, I certainly discount a reviewer who so clearly doesn’t match popular sentiment. Also, much of the criticism seemed to be aimed at historical (or scientific) inaccuracies. It never really occurred to me to consider these movies as history lessons. The are, after all, fiction.

In fact, the Rotten Tomatoes consensus for the 37% rating reads:

Consensus: Angels and Demons is a fast-paced thrill ride, and an improvement on the last Dan Brown adaptation, but the storyline too often wavers between implausible and ridiculous, and does not translate effectively to the big screen.

Checking the rating for The DaVinci Code, it all starts to make a little more sense: 24%. Clearly, I need a better source for deciding whether or not to see a movie.

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  1. #1 by Hilly on May 26, 2009 - 2:11 pm

    I really want to see this movie, simply because I love all of this mystery, cloak and dagger, historical craziness stuff. I don’t care if Tom Hanks has terrible hair or not. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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    • #2 by Ren on May 27, 2009 - 4:49 pm

      Hilly – I say go for it! As long as you have a good helping of “I’m here to be entertained” rather than “I’m here to tear this movie apart”, I think you’ll enjoy it fine.

      And anyone that liked the first one will almost certainly enjoy this one as well.

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  2. #3 by kapgar on May 27, 2009 - 6:32 am

    Katie and I enjoyed it, too. She was a bit iffier (?) than I was simply because she had just finished reading the book so she was more critical of the missing plot points, but we did like it better than Da Vinci Code. And Tom’s hair is much better this go-round.

    Never follow reviews. Period. It’s the best way to live. Read them, sure. But never let them decide for you.

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    • #4 by Ren on May 27, 2009 - 4:51 pm

      kapgar – I actually pulled up the eBook on my iPhone when we left the theater so that I could make a few comparisons. I was surprised at how similar they actually were, though the whole helicopter scene was changed fairly significantly. I’m sure there were lots of other scene changes as well, but I didn’t go through the whole book — I was really wanting to check some things about the ending.

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  3. #5 by Avitable on May 27, 2009 - 1:43 pm

    I’ve found that my tastes are usually about 85-90% in line with the aggregate Rotten Tomatoes score. There are some movies that I’ll enjoy even knowing they’re crap, but for the most part I need something that isn’t dumbed down, illogical, or full of plot holes, or else I’ll hate it.

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    • #6 by Ren on May 27, 2009 - 4:55 pm

      Avitable – I don’t really mind those types of things as long as the story itself holds together. I can put up with quite a lot of suspension of disbelief. I haven’t really paid attention, but I expect my correlation with Rotten Tomatoes is much lower.

      Note that what I do have trouble stomaching is when something related to suspension of disbelief is explicitly explained and then the explanation either doesn’t make sense or isn’t held to by the rest of the movie. Typically, this involves some character spouting some mumbo-jumbo.

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  4. #7 by Toben on May 28, 2009 - 12:11 am

    Your statement “Given the success of that film, I certainly discount a reviewer who so clearly doesnโ€™t match popular sentiment.” makes me think you’re completely overlooking the fact that most critics’ reviews run counter to majority opinion. They judge movies on much more stringent criteria than you desire to: a) stylistically (did the cinematography match the mood, pacing and message of the film); b) against movies in its own genre — did it accomplish it’s purported, and usually limited, goals?; c) against movies in general; d) plausibility of dialog; e) acting quality — did the director tease out authentic or powerful performances from the actors?.

    Your main concerns are usually: 1) did it hold my interest; and 2) did the plot remain coherent and flow logically? I saw the movie myself last week and it was ok, but many things were too tidy and perfectly carved out for me to be personally hooked by the story. And what was up with that “secret” passage behind the stone structure at the end?? lol, come on, they’ve got to do better than that, all kinds of tourists would be combing those passageways during daylight hours if it were really that easy to access. I guess I’m also getting tired of the whole “secrets hidden in plain sight” theme that never fails to feature prominently in any archaeologically themed flick (the new Transformers has this as well with all the “mysterious” symbols found across the globe on remnants of supposedly unconnected civilizations). Just give us an old fashioned cipher and a really smart person trying to decode it…that would be enough for me. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • #8 by Ren on May 28, 2009 - 8:57 am

      Toben – The problem with this assessment of movie critics is that their audience is primarily the viewing public. It’s fine to review movies on those other criteria, but we also need reviews that are of the “is it worth seeing?” variety. I used to think that Rotten Tomatoes did a good job of capturing this information, but I have a vague feeling that Rotten Tomatoes itself has veered toward the more technical side in their own assessment of the score of each review. Someone should do a study!

      By the way, in the book the secret passage you mention was blocked by a wooden barricade, so it was clearly something that people could find. And the “secrets hidden in plain sight” is the bread-and-butter for these things, as you know. At least with Dan Brown, the clues are in plain sight because they are *meant* to be found. I’m not sure this applies as readily to things like Indiana Jones or the new Transformers (which I haven’t seen).

      And those ciphers you liked are always solved way too easily — or they’re too obvious in the first place. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Oh, one more thing about Angels & Demons. I did feel that Langdon should have thought of asking where else those pyramid obelisks could be found after the first two sites both had them.

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  5. #9 by kilax on May 28, 2009 - 5:08 pm

    I agree with Kevin – never follow reviews. Even blogger’s! Ha ha! I do want to see this, and you liking it makes me more excited, but NO ONE has the same taste. Movie taste is so personal! And Rotten Tomato always seems so off to me.

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    • #10 by Ren on May 28, 2009 - 9:28 pm

      kilax – I think perhaps that it depends on the type of movie. I’ve found that Rotten Tomatoes is relatively reliable for comedies. Maybe it’s because reviewers themselves judge comedies by a different standard. For some reason, it doesn’t seem that action/adventure movies rate their own standard.

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  6. #11 by Kate on June 3, 2009 - 10:43 am

    I was a bit nervous I’d be wasting my money by seeing Angels & Demons because The Da Vinci Code was such a flop, but I was pleasantly surprised. I still enjoy Brown’s books more, but it was a pleasant way to spend a few hours (well, the cherry ICEE made it pleasant, too :)).

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    • #12 by Ren on June 4, 2009 - 1:14 pm

      Kate – I definitely agree that Angels & Demons did a much better job of not disappointing those that had read the book as compared with The Da Vinci Code. Unfortnately, I haven’t cared for most fo Dan Brown’s other books.

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