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Yeah, I just came back to Seremban, like a few minutes ago, and here I am reviewing Angels and Demons. I was blessed enough to have been able to watch the Ron Howard-directed film nearly 2 days before the rest of the world, thanks to Advertlets no doubt, and here is my verdict: Thank God I did not read the book.

Seriously, I have nothing against Dan Brown; the stuff I hear about him is all positive, and I am probably one of the only noobs around who has not read The Da Vinci Code! Anyhoo, I went into Cineleisure Hall 9 with no expectations whatsoever since the movie version of The Da Vinci Code was a non-event for me.

Tom Hanks returns as Professor Robert Langdon in a time when the Pope just passed away and an old threat to the Catholic church reemerges. Four cardinals, who are the candidates to replace the deceased Pope, are kidnapped by an assassin who reveals that the Illuminati are the ones behind the plot. As the cardinals are killed one by one every hour onto midnight, an even larger danger looms as the assassin has also planted an anti-matter bomb (supposedly God Matter) somewhere in the Vatican.

So yes, in this time of desperation, the Vatican turns to world-renowned symbolist Professor Langdon, who wrote a book about the Illuminati, and he is joined by Doctor Vittoria Vetra, who is a physicist who was working on the anti-matter. The Illuminati, or the “Enlightened Ones” in Latin, are a cult-ish faction of the Catholic Church, and the members were brutally murdered by the Church in the 17th Century for their Scientific views on life. Through those turns of events, the Illuminati went underground and plotted for retribution and revenge against the Church. Langdon and Vetra must now race against time to interpret the Illuminati poem to rescue the Cardinals and find the anti-matter before the Catholic Church explodes and implodes, so yeah, the whole movie has Tom Hanks running around in a suit.

Stellan Skarsgard, who trades in his Mamma Mia sing-along for a more serious role in this movie, plays the Chief of the Swiss Guard Commander Richter to great effect. Mysterious and dark, Skarsgard’s take on Richter, who is against Langdon’s involvement in the matter, creates a Yang to Ewan McGregor/ Carmelengo Patrick McKenna’s Yin. Patrick, who was taken in as a young child by the deceased Pope, is the epitome of a faith and religiousness, willing to do anything for the church. But who is behind this sinister plot? Who revived the Illuminati? And who is giving orders to the Assassin?

This film, in all honesty, far exceeds The Da Vinci Code in terms of suspense and entertainment, but it is in the plot that makes Angels and Demons all the better. While The Da Vinci Code is filled with conspiracy theories about Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary as well as other historical flashbacks, Angels and Demons is chronologically sound and thus, simple and easy to understand. That is why the movie version of The Da Vinci Code received so much backlash from the readers, the plot of the story, which was so complex, was better in print than on the big screen, where long-drawn explanations were cut short to not cause brain damage to the viewers.

This movie’s appeal is its historical rhetoric and suspense, so half of Angels and Demon’s positives go down the drain if you already know the ending of this story. All in all, Angels and Demons is not one of my favourite films, but in a year when awesome movies are few and far between, it is a decent appetizer to upcoming summer blockbusters such as Transformers 2 (unless Michael Bay butchers it up) and Terminator Salvation.

PS: God Help The Girl is pretty good, contrary to my earlier semi-review; comparing them to Belle and Sebastian despite the Stuart Murdoch connection was a recipe for disaster. I would rate this album as one of the best retro-pop records of the year; if She & Him is more The New Seekers, God Help The Girl borrows from the song book of Petula Clark. The slow-tempo and jazzy cover of Belle and Sebastian’s Funny Little Frog aside, God Help The Girl proves to be a peaceful and tranquil ride, a wonderful journey.

PPS: I finally met Eu Veng’s brother, Eu Gene at yesterday’s special screening in Cineleisure.

“Are you the guy my brother called a ‘bedebah’ in his blog?”

Flattering. Thanks a lot Eu Veng.