This movie is a summer thriller adapted from a book meant as a summer thriller and, as such, allowed me to sit in comfort, watch the show, and immediately forget: Overdevelopment in Asheville, the inactions of the City Council, the collapse of GM, the fall of the market, the ignorance of many American senators, and the rising cost of gasoline for a little over two hours. As such it deserves three stars.
When “Angels and Demons” was in production, three weeks of exterior location shooting commenced in Rome because of the 2008 Screen Actors Guild strike with the rest of the movie being shot at the Sony studios in LA. Because the Roman Catholic Church found offense with “The Da Vinci Code,” Director Howard and his crew were denied the use of any part of the Vatican See hence the Caserta Palace doubled for the inside of the Vatican and the Biblioteca Angelica was used for the Vatican Library.
The movie begins at the huge and new Hadron Collider (the world's largest and highest-energy particle accelerator), built to fathom the secrets of the universe, especially atomic particles, nuclear matter, and possibly the formation of anti-matter. It’s located in Switzerland. America was going to build such an accelerator but the endeavor was stopped by Republican Congressmen who thought such research was a waste of money. The facility was built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research or CERN.
So while a number of CERN scientists watch the starting of the accelerator and manage to watch the creation of, then the isolation of a small tube of anti-matter, the tube is promptly stolen by a member of the Illuminati. The Illuminati are a society of some 400 years of age, dedicated to righting the wrongs of a Catholic Church that unjustly condemned scientists to prison or death or both. The tube holds the anti-matter in a magnetic vise, the magnets in turn running on a small battery set in the bottom of the apparatus.
At the same time, back in Rome, the Vatican mourns the passing of the present Pope and the Vatican staff prepares for the meeting of the Conclave of the College of Cardinals, in order to select the next pope. Until the Conclave makes its selection, a young Vatican priest (Ewan McGregor) is named the Camerlengo, the man pledged to ensure the Vatican runs in an orderly manner until a new Pope is chosen. It is important to note the plot that he is both a priest and a former army helicopter pilot.
A gyrating crowd of nuns, priests, tourists, TV reporters, and more faithful members of the church all mill around St. Peter’s Square waiting for the white smoke from the Conclave to signify the election of a new Pope.
But the Illuminati kidnaps the four most likely candidates before the Conclave goes into seclusion and threatens to kill them at 8:00, 9:00, 10:00 and 11:00 PM, and then destroy the Vatican in an atomic explosion at midnight just about the time when the anti-matter tube will detonate.
The Vatican then summons Drs. Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) and Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer) from CERN to help them solve the Illuminati’s threat, save the four Papal candidates, and replace the vial’s batteries.
This movie proves two things: Never go anywhere in Rome without a good map and frankly, the church made a big mistake by not allowing Howard and the crew to film around the Vatican See. If anybody comes out on top in the end, it’s the Catholic Church.