Sunday, May 17, 2009

In spite of its box office success, the film adaptation of The Da Vinci Code had its critics. Accused of being too slow and favouring divine deliberation over action, the anticipation for its follow up was less than enthusiastic. Thankfully Director Ron Howard has taken these arguments on board for Angels and Demons, turning Dan Brown's other best selling hit into a slick evangelical escapade. Upon the Pope's death, the Vatican cardinals begin the ancient Conclave ritual to elect a new leader. Unbeknownst to them a menace emerges from the Illuminati, a centuries old organisation resistant to the Church's scientific stance. Discovering the kidnapping of four leading cardinals and a threat of atomic detonation, the Vatican's temporary leader, the Camerlengo (Ewan McGregor), requests the services of noted symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks). Racing against a deadline with the help of scientist Vittoria Ventri (Ayelet Zurer), Langdon's linear thinking is needed to avoid an unholy cataclysm. Having developed an enviable body of work, Angels and Demons sees Ron Howard finally settle into the confines of blockbuster film-making. If The Da Vinci Code found him awkwardly merging adult themes within the thriller genre, the latest shows a man confident in his abilities. Evident in the way he infuses some fun amongst the necessary religious exposition, the overall material lends itself more to the cinematic canvas. By using the well-worn 'ticking clock' device each scene blends together in lightning speed with the action and cinematography creating a livelier adventure. Although occasionally indulging in some of the novel's more improbable excesses, the film effectively uses the historical ingredients to tell a very modern tale. The issues of science versus religion are competently conveyed whilst pushing the story towards its exciting climax. Hanks also seems more at ease with a script better tailored to his talents enabling him to deliver a more believable performance matched by its strong cast. In a film delighting in its details the Vatican scenes come to vivid life with the set designer's imaginations almost rivalling the majesty of the real article. More like the film its predecessor should have been, Angels and Demons is a serviceable thriller wringing the most from its scenic surrounds. Light on genuine characterisation perhaps, it maintains an ongoing energy that shouldn't make its audience feel like they're in celluloid purgatory.
Movie Review Rating 7 / 10 Movie Review by Patrick Moore Official Movie Homepage click here. Angels and Demons released in Australia on Thursday 14th May 2009. If you have any comments to make about this Movie Review, then please use the comment box, titling your comments with Movie Review Angels & Demons Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at current movie releases in Australia.
'No Acting Required' is a common phrase coined by performers whenever a lightweight scene appears. Coasting through a sequence where little effort is needed a thespian's ability to do nothing whilst appearing doing something has enabled some to establish long careers. A beneficiary of this principle is Matthew McConaughey, whose failure to emote is the beginning of the atrocities committed in this ghastly ghostly piffle. Gregarious gigolo Connor Mead (Matthew McConaughey) is a lecherous lady-killer of the highest order. Flexing his pecs and smiling his pearly whites, his charms have led to many late night trysts. Attending the wedding of his brother, he reacquaints himself with old girlfriend Jenny (Jennifer Garner). Always in love with her, his wicked ways has created an invisible barrier between them. This slowly crumbles due to the presence of his dead Uncle Wayne (Michael Douglas). Showing him how life has panned out with the help of three female spirits, Wayne's guidance will hopefully turn his nephew into the man Jenny has always wished him to be. Girlfriends Past is a classic example of what's wrong with current romantic comedies. Crafting a story based on total fantasy rather than heightened realism this completely erases any shred of sincerity or character empathy. This shocker does the genre no favours which has seen it deteriorate in quality over the last twenty years. Sadly it seems the days of sophisticated romances laced with intelligent witticisms are long gone with inane triteness replacing it. Its heavy borrowing from Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' would surely be enough reason for the great writer to haunt the creators for using his work on this travesty. It's biggest mistake is its embracing of unlikeable caricatures and absurd farce. The constant tug of war between various comedic styles makes for jarring viewing with not one character having any redeeming qualities. The only people enjoying themselves are Douglas and Emma Stone who, as two very strange ghosts, manage to have some fun amongst some dire performances. About its only surprise is the absence of the obligatory shirtless scene for which McConaughey has become known. With an 80's soundtrack featuring REO Speedwagon unfortunately reminding of the more dubious tunes deriving from that pastel lined decade. Ghosts of Girlfriends Past is a predictable effort equivalent to cinematic fast food. If this is the best screenplay McConaughey has been offered lately, one has to question how much long his career can last before similar endeavours see it shuffle off to its mortal coil. Movie Review Rating 0 / 10 Movie Review by Patrick Moore Official Movies Home Page click here. If you have any comments to make about this Movie Review, then please use the comment box, titling your comments with Movie Review Ghosts of Girlfriends Past Patrick Moore's Movie Review is an alternative look at current movie releases in Australia.