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Ron Howard
Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellan Skarsgård, Pierfrancesco Favino, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Armin Mueller-Stahl
Writing Credits:
David Koepp, Akiva Goldsman, Dan Brown (novel)

The holiest event of our time. Perfect for their return.

In Ron Howard's thrilling follow-up to The Da Vinci Code, expert symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) follows ancient clues on a heart-racing hunt through Rome to find the four Cardinals kidnapped by the deadly secret society, the Illuminati. With the Cardinals' lives on the line, and the Camerlengo (Ewan McGregor) desperate for help, Langdon embarks on a nonstop, action-packed race through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, and the most secretive vault on Earth!

Box Office:
$150 million.
Opening Weekend
$46.204 million on 3527 screens.
Domestic Gross
$133.375 million.

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

138 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 5/14/2013

• None


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Angels & Demons [Blu-Ray 4K] (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 29, 2014)

Was 2006’s Da Vinci Code a hit? Yes – with a gross of $217 million in the US, I’d find it tough to argue otherwise.

Was it a smash hit, however? In my opinion, no. Given the hype behind the film and its connection to the insanely successful book, I think $200 million was the minimum the flick could make and not be viewed as a dud. Code crept past that threshold, so I see it as an acceptable success but not one that really found a great audience.

Perhaps due to the lackluster reception that Code received, 2009’s Angels & Demons hit the scene without nearly the same level of hype. Demons boasted virtually the same creative crew, but it didn’t produce the same box office results. Indeed, with a $133 million take in the US, it pulled in only 61 percent of its predecessor’s earnings. In an era during which sequels regularly outgross prior efforts, that was a big drop.

But not a surprising one. Really, given the general public dissatisfaction with Code, it made sense that a major percentage of the Code audience failed to return for the next tale in the series. However, those who came back for more were likely to enjoy it, as Demons provided the much more satisfying film.

After the death of the Pope, Catholic leaders search for a new pontiff. Someone kidnaps four cardinals who are considered to be strong candidates for the gig.

The parties responsible leave indications that they represent the Illuminati, an ancient society devoted to scientific truth that the church once drove underground and tried to eliminate. To help decode various clues and rescue the cardinals, the Camerlengo (Ewan McGregor) – the Catholic representative who acts as surrogate Pope during the selection process – recruits Dr. Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks), an expert on matters related to the Illuminati.

In the meantime, researchers in Switzerland make an unprecedented amount of antimatter, a substance that could reveal secrets of the creation of the universe – or that could destroy a wide swath of land if unleashed. How do the two sides connect? Those behind the kidnappings also steal the Swiss antimatter and plan to let it destroy the Vatican. Along with various authorities, Langdon teams with scientist Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer) to help work through various symbols, rescue the cardinals, and halt the obliteration of Vatican City.

As I noted when I reviewed it, I regarded Code as a significant disappointment. In fact, I viewed the flick as such a bore that I read the novel in an attempt to figure out why it merited so much fuss. How could a book that excited such a massive audience produce such a dull movie?

I never bothered with Demons the book, and I’m not quite sure why I decided to give the movie a look during its theatrical run. While it failed to bowl me over, I was fairly glad I did check it out, as Demons provided a significantly stronger experience.

Why does Demons work so much better than Code? Mostly because it actually displays a pulse. Code was a depressingly logy affair. Every time it confronted a chance to excite the senses, it tended to drag. All possible climaxes became anti-climactic, so the end result was a movie that felt more like a tedious scavenger hunt than a coherent, compelling tale.

On the other hand, Demons provides much more excitement. A lot of that stems from the basic nature of the plot. Most of the film’s events transpire over a period of a few hours, and the tale involves a literal ticking clock. The kidnappers intend to kill the cardinals every hour on the hour from 8 PM to 11 PM, and then they’ll let the antimatter go kaboom at midnight. This factor adds a lot of pressure absent from the more leisurely Code, and it lends a great deal of tension to the movie.

While I’m not sure that director Ron Howard does anything to add to the movie’s zippiness, at least he doesn’t actively impede the flick ala Code. I don’t think he makes matters truly seem urgent, but he comes close. The story moves along at a good clip; even during the more scholarly first act, we still find more than a few intriguing elements, and once the clock strikes 8, the movie really gets going.

Don’t mistake my rating of Demons over Code as a simple preference for action over thought. Yes, Code was more introspective and contemplative, while Demons veers much closer to a pure action flick. However, the fault in Code wasn’t due to its lack of violence and flash; it came from the flat nature in which Howard told it.

If Howard approached Demons in the same woefully understated manner, it also would’ve been a snoozefest. Happily, he learned from his mistakes, so he knew enough to give Demons a reasonable amount of energy. No one will mistake it for tremendously dynamic adventure, but at least it keeps us interested.

That sense of energy trickles down to others involved. Hanks looked half-asleep in Code, but he shows more life here. He tamps down his movie star charisma well enough to still allow us to believe him as a bookish scholar, but at least he allows the character’s personality and passion emerge.

Zurer also feels like a more satisfying kinda-sorta love interest than Audrey Tautou in Code. Again, some of this stems from the nature of the story, as Zurer’s Vetra simply gets a more active role in the proceedings, Tautou’s Sophie Neveu was largely just a lovely plot device. Vetra still takes a backseat to Langdon, but at least she doesn’t feel like she’s there just as eye candy.

I don’t want to go overboard in my praise for Angels & Demons, as I don’t really see it as a great film. However, it does much more right than wrong, and it certainly outdoes its dull predecessor by a wide margin. Demons provides a reasonably satisfying thriller that helps restore much of the goodwill obliterated by Da Vinci Code.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus F

Angels & Demons appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. For the film’s second Blu-ray release, it comes as part of Sony’s “Mastered in 4K” line. What the heck does that mean? Here’s what Sony’s press release promises us:

“’Mastered in 4K’ Blu-ray releases will feature titles sourced from pristine 4K masters and presented at high-bitrate 1080p resolution, with expanded color showcasing more of the wide range of rich color contained in the original source. When upscaled via the Sony 4K Ultra HD TVs, these discs serve as an ideal way for consumers to experience near-4K picture quality. ‘Mastered in 4K’ Blu-ray Discs can be played on all existing Blu-ray Disc players.”

Old DVD fans will remember Sony’s “Superbit” program, as it came with similar promises. Superbit DVDs and “Mastered in 4K” BDs jettison all supplements to theoretically optimize picture/audio quality.

At virtually all times, sharpness excelled. Only a smidgen of mild softness ever impacted on wide shots, as the majority of the movie demonstrated rock-solid clarity and definition. Jagged edges and shimmering failed to occur, and I witnessed no signs of edge enhancement. Print flaws weren’t a factor; the movie always remained clean and fresh.

Demons went with a stylized palette that favored earthy hues. Anticipate lots of deep browns and rich reds here, though we also got a fair amount of teal and orange as well. Within those design parameters, the colors were consistently full and dynamic. Blacks appeared deep and dark, while shadows displayed good clarity and smoothness. Overall, I really liked this consistently positive presentation.

With its action orientation, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Demon also worked well. The movie boasted a wide and involving soundfield. This showed up during scenes both loud and quiet. During the former, music offered nice stereo presence, and various environmental elements displayed quality localization and involvement.

The bigger sequences added more pizzazz to the package. These used all five channels in a satisfying manner, as the action scenes created a lot of useful material. While not as dazzling as something more aggressive like Transformers, the mix used the speakers in a way that gave real life to the proceedings.

In addition, audio quality was strong. Music appeared vivid and full, with crisp highs and rich lows. Speech was concise and natural; no issues affected the lines. Effects appeared to be accurate and lively. Those elements lacked distortion and they boasted nice low-end during their louder moments. Overall, I felt pleased with the mix.

How did this 4K Blu-ray compare to the 2009 Blu-ray? Both seemed awfully similar to me. The original Blu-ray was already top-notch, so any possible improvements appear to be minimal at best.

As stated earlier, the 4K line leaves out any extras. That means the various bonus elements get the boot here.

Perhaps I enjoyed Angels & Demons due to the exceedingly low expectations I felt after the dull Da Vinci Code, but I don’t think so. I’ve now seen it three times, and I think it offers a fairly lively, taut little adventure. The Blu-ray gives us excellent picture and audio along with no supplements. This is a strong presentation, but not one that I think offers notable improvements over the standard Blu-ray.

To rate this film, visit the original review of ANGELS & DEMONS

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main