Torture Porn

Tom Hanks and Ron Howard need to STOP making Robert Langdon movies!

Movies based on the books of Dan Brown suck. I put them right alongside the Alien vs. Predator movies, the American Pie monstrosities and those horrendous Beethoven flicks. Tom Hanks ... Ron Howard ... please stop, NOW!!!

Angels and Demons starts dumb and gets dumber as it plods along. This is a movie where you can figure out who the bad guy is from watching the promo commercials. It's also littered with continuity problems. (There's some business involving a retinal scanner at the beginning that blew my mind with its ineptitude.) This is a movie that presents scenarios so illogical, so preposterous, that it makes the above-mentioned franchises look like high art.

The events of the book actually happened before The Da Vinci Code, but the film acts like a sequel. Robert Langdon (Hanks) is working on a book when the Vatican contacts him. He thinks it's because they are going to grant him access to their archives for research, but it turns out his "expertise" is needed for a grave situation.

The pope is dead, and somebody has kidnapped the four cardinals most likely to replace him. That somebody plans to knock off the four candidates on an hourly basis, leading up to a cataclysmic explosion of "antimatter." The claim: This antimatter is the stuff that caused creation as we know it—basically, it's God's version of flour in his big-assed creation cake.

As I watched, I was asking myself: "WTF?"

Langdon allies with a female scientist who was working on the antimatter (Ayelet Zurer, who is, of course, super hot). They follow clues left by the psycho and find themselves running around to different relics and ruins in Rome, usually arriving a little too late to save the life of the cardinals.

Those cardinals die some particularly gruesome deaths for a PG-13 movie. They're up there with the deaths in Eli Roth's Hostel (another decaying movie franchise that is better than this one). A couple of dudes burn; another gets his lung punctured, complete with blood spurting into Hanks' face; yet another gets ashes stuffed in his mouth until he suffocates. It's Catholic torture porn!

Hanks is basically collecting a big paycheck while looking puzzled and spouting a bunch of nonsense about the Illuminati. (The killer is making the deaths look like the Illuminati—a secret religious society dedicated to "scientific truth"—have returned.) It's so disappointing to watch his talents squandered in this drivel. It may be worth it to him for the money, but Hanks can make lots of money making great films rather than stupid puzzle movies.

The puzzles help make this film most ridiculous. The murderer gives clues, in plain sight, regarding where the murders will be, increasing the likelihood that his plan will be foiled. On top of this, some of the so-called mysteries aren't very mysterious at all; as I mentioned, I guessed the mastermind behind the killings before I stepped into the theater.

The supporting cast boasts some admirable talent: Stellan Skarsgård plays a Vatican security commander; Ewan McGregor is on hand as a high-ranking priest; and Armin Mueller-Stahl gets all dressed up to play a cardinal. All three are good actors, yet, like Hanks, they are forced to recite nonsensical, ridiculous dialogue.

Howard is already talking about making another film based on a Brown novel, and Brown will continue the adventures of Robert Langdon in The Lost Symbol, a book due out in September. No doubt: People do love these books. I read The Da Vinci Code, and while I didn't care for it all that much, it was better than the movie. Perhaps these literary puzzles play better on the page than on the silver screen. As long as Brown keeps churning them out, they will more than likely find their way into the cinemas.

Oh ... woe is me.