Monday, May 18, 2009

Angels and Demons: Book vs Movie

Out of the two Dan Brown books, Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code, I liked Angels & Demons better. It had a better storyline, more intensity and great characters. So I had been eagerly anticipating the recent release of the movie, directed by Ron Howard and starring Tom Hanks.

I have to admit, I always approach a movie based on a book with some trepidation. The movie is never as good as the book, but I always have hope that the screenwriter and director can pull out the essential elements and plot from the book to make a decent movie.

Considering who was in this movie and directing it, I had higher hopes than usual. But those hopes were soon crushed in the opening scene that poorly patched together plot points from the first half of the book in order to get us right into the action. I am all for starting in media res, but it did not work here.

I gave the screenwriter the benefit of the doubt at the beginning because I knew there was a lot that needed to be included in order for the story to make sense. I sat with a darkened room of strangers waiting for the plot of the movie to move into high gear, but it never did and I was extremely disappointed. Without the incredible music by Hans Zimmer, we wouldn't have known when the movie was supposed be exciting or scary.

Plus, a key element in the climax of the movie was changed, which in turn altered the ending. It drives me crazy when this happens. I empathize with the plight of screenwriters and I know they work hard, but if you can't fit the main points of the book into the movie, then leave it as a book and find another project to work on.

I think they were also banking on the fact that the audience would automatically relate to the protagonist Robert Langdon, because he was played by Tom Hanks. Because of this, they didn't bother with any character development. There was no connection between any of the characters, especially our two main characters Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) and Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer). So as with any book or movie, if we don't care about the main characters, then we don't really care what happens to them.

In the book, the assassin was intense and downright scary. The actor they had playing this key role was Nikolaj Lie Kaas who looked like he just walked off the cover of GQ. He was nice to look at, but scary--he was not. In the last scene with him, Langdon and Vittoria I almost screamed. Once again a key plot element was altered and it almost became laughable.

I left with a sour taste in my mouth and I know it wasn't from the popcorn and soda. I am a huge Tom Hanks and Ron Howard fan, so I am going to pretend this whole thing didn't happen.

Bottom line: Read the book---it is WAY better.


lisazahnwrites said...

That's too bad. I love Tom Hanks and I really liked the Da Vinci Code movie, which I only recently caved in to watching. I got tired of reading the Da Vinci Code book, too much racing forward, so I thought the movie was actually better in that case.

I will have to read Angels and Demons and see how I like that. I've heard it's the better of the two books. I would've liked for the movie to be good, too.

Oh well.

Kerrie said...

I was hoping the movie would be better too. Enjoy the book (or you can get the audio book which was really good too.)

Anonymous said...

your not the only one that this happened to i went and watched the movie the second day it came to theaters and i was really dissapointed in it the beginging was totally WRONG! they were supposed to show chemistry between Langdon and Victtoria and there was ZIP! they missed alot of the ending it was a movie i was wanting to see really badly and it turned out to be crap pardon my language but the characters (victtoria) was supposed to be wearing shorts and arrive by helicopter and be told about her father and that never happened:@ the ending Langdon was supposed to go in the helicopter with the 'priest' and he never did and he was supposed to go up and end up in the hospital and he was supposed to kiss Victtoria when he returns It waasnt a verry well done movie

Kerrie said...

I hear ya!

Mr. ONU said...

I was irate after I left. I felt like someone had just given the screenwriters a 5-minute summary and let them write their own thing. It was the most inaccurate adaptation of anything I've ever seen. I don't necessarily mind if writers leave certain things out (in this case, where one is trying to squeeze 600 pages into just over two hours, it is necessary). But countless things were BLATANTLY changed.

Spoilers alert!

In the first five minutes alone, there were so many unnecessary changes I stopped counting. CERN director Kohler is omitted ENTIRELY from the movie. Langdon and Vittoria develop no chemistry whatsoever. The Hassassin never tries to kill Langdon (does so 3 separate times in the book) and then dies in a completely different way. And the 4th preferiti is actually saved and becomes pope! This movie was complete blasphemy to me. If I was Dan Brown, I would be irate.

Tim said...

I also approached the movie with some reservation, knowing that movies rarely match up well with the book. Key things I was disappointed with related mainly to the characters:
1)Tom Hanks just doesn't do a good Langdon - while there was limited opportunity for him to really get into the role, he comes across as a bit cheesy. Hanks is great in other roles (eg I that he was great in Charlie Wilson's War) but not in an action/hero type role
2) no chemistry with Vetra, she is quite a boring character quite different to the book
3) the Hassasin was pathetic, more like a computer-nerd with a gun that the frightening character in the book
4) the american cardinal made me cringe, sounded like some old cowboy straight from the bar in Texas
5) rationale for the camerlengo's actions was not explained well at all

On the flip side, I thought it was good that a lot of the CERN stuff at the begining was skipped (can't cover everything in the book in a 2hour movie) and glad Langdon didn't end up in the helicopter as him surviving a 15000ft fall in the book was a bit ridiculous.

Kerrie said...


I mostly agree with you. I did want to see Langdon go up in the helicopter. I was curious how they would handle it.

Carmela said...

Yeah, you're right. They put the story well in, I agree - they got the main idea in correctly. But they didn't sort the details much. So there, the movie was a wreck especially if you compare it to the book.

Anonymous said...

I have watched (and own) both The DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons and have read The DaVinci Code. My opinion is that in both, there is NOT ENOUGH ROMANCE!!! (sorry, I love romance) In The DaVinci Code (book) it tells you that Robert had a thing with Vittoria and there was no hint of that in the movie. I fully intend to read Angels and Demons as soon as possible. He also had a BIG thing with Sophie in the book, and it only just made it into the movie, and even then, not quite. I AM ADDICTED TO ROMANCE!!!

mizdhey said...

I was really disappointed when i got to see the movie..i was expecting it to be a moving picture of the book but it wasnt!!!!! i was totally disheartened :c

Tim said...

It's always sad to see that in a movie (in this case - Angels and Demons) some very important facts from a book are not shown. The ending in a movie is totally different then in a book and there are more then 10 important scenes that were changed. I saw a movie first and then read a book. After i read a book i was really dissapointed. The book is so much better ther a movie. Hope third movie will be more based on the book (The Lost Symbol)

Eliza said...

Ok well I loved Angels and Demons- but I guess the reason is because I haven't read the book. I didn't even realise that there was meant to be chemistry between vittoria and Langdon- but after reading the comments now I do. So I guess maybe it wasn't the best after all. But I did find it v.v.v. scary and I know some people didnt find the computery bad guy scary BUT I CAN TELL YOU I DID!!! Ooh and also what happens in the end in the book?

muraliwaran said...

I saw the movies in bits and pieces and was impressed by the plot which led me to purchase the book. My opinion is that the film is better. I cannot digest how a man can survive a 10000 feet fall with a thin canvas sheet.The landing on bubbly tiber river is also not believable. In the movie the carm alone flies with the AM. Further as an ardent fan of Alistair Maclean's I see a shade of Satan Bug's plot here. I There are also other similes between the scenes in A&D and SB. Notably when in chase of the Hashishin the duo stuimble on 2 old nuns who feed them the information of the ARABO. In SB a small 5 year old (with lame legs) identifies the car in which the villain had kidnapped th heroine. He even reels of the name of the car a vanden Plas princess 1.3 litre. One can point ouit several such similarities.

Stella said...

I just posted a review of the book on my blog and linked to your post here and I can only agree with everything you wrote here.
I actually first watched the movie and I found it pretty good but now that I've read the book I see that it could have been so much more.

I find it sad that they completely left out Koehler and that whole CERN stuff because, as you already pointed out, it alters a a part of the climax. And the whole movie ust turns out totally different from the bbok in the end.

Another thing I just don't understand is, while I completely loved Ewan McGregor, why they had to change the nationality of the camerlengo and of that great elector. I'm sure it couldn't have been to hard to cast two Italians.

Anyway, your bottomline pretty much nailed it!

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