starring Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Armin Mueller-Stahl
screenplay by David Koepp and Akiva Goldsman, based on the novel by Dan Brown
directed by Ron Howard
by Ian Pugh The preferiti are the cardinals most likely to be elected Pope following the death of the previous one. So I learned from Ron Howard's Angels & Demons--twice. It's a point that is adequately explained in a news report serving as the film's prologue, then superfluously explained in one of hero-cum-tour guide Robert Langdon's information-dense lines of dialogue. From there, it appears as if Angels & Demons will take a willing leap off the same cliff The Da Vinci Code did, annotating each excruciating historical detail for no other reason than to play WIKIPEDIA while spelling everything out in the most condescending way possible. Yet a strange thing happens around the movie's halfway mark: everyone stops defining and redefining the arcana--indeed, exposition practically ceases altogether as the characters are dragged between libraries and churches, spirited from one set-piece to the next, arriving just in the nick of time to face off against the killers or help save some poor bastard from getting burned alive. The shift in tone is sudden and dramatic--you could probably draw a fat line through the middle of Angels & Demons to delineate where the hand-holding lectures end and the linear procession of action sequences begins. How did that happen? As Opie will always be his unsubtle middlebrow self and co-screenwriter Akiva Goldsman will always be the guy who wrote Batman & Robin, I have no choice but to assume that the responsibility for this schism lies with the man whose name appears for the first time on this franchise: David Koepp.