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Angels & Demons [Blu-ray] by Directed by Ron Howard
Review by Charles Mohapel
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Blu-ray  ISBN/ITEM#: B002O5M4SU
Date: 28 December 2009 List Price $39.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK

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Having enjoyed the film adaptation of Dan Brown's book The Da Vinci Code, I was eager to see how Angels & Demons would translate to the silver screen. I was not disappointed -- of all the films I viewed this summer, Angels & Demons was the one that left me most impressed.

Directed by: Ron Howard

Writing credits (WGA):
David Koepp (screenplay) and
Akiva Goldsman (screenplay)

Dan Brown (novel)

Cast (Cast overview, first billed only):
Tom Hanks ... Robert Langdon
Ewan McGregor ... Camerlengo Patrick McKenna
Ayelet Zurer ... Vittoria Vetra
Stellan Skarsgård ... Commander Richter
Pierfrancesco Favino ... Inspector Olivetti
Nikolaj Lie Kaas ... Assassin
Armin Mueller-Stahl ... Cardinal Strauss
Thure Lindhardt ... Chartrand
David Pasquesi ... Claudio Vincenzi
Cosimo Fusco ... Father Simeon
Victor Alfieri ... Lieutenant Valenti
Franklin Amobi ... Cardinal Lamasse
Curt Lowens ... Cardinal Ebner
Bob Yerkes ... Cardinal Guidera
Marc Fiorini ... Cardinal Baggia (as Marco Fiorini)

Angels & Demons begins at CERN in Switzerland where a physicist working to discover the Higgs boson, often referred to as "the God particle", turns on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and produces a minute quantity of antimatter, only to be killed by unknown assailants.

Cut to Rome where the Pope has died suddenly, and while the Cardinalate (the College of Cardinals) is gathering to elect his replacement, when the Illuminati kidnap the preferiti (the four candidates) for the position of the Pope. Furthermore the Illuminati threaten to kill one Cardinal every hour, beginning at 8:00 p.m., and then use the stolen antimatter to destroy the Vatican in a burst of light at midnight.

Symbologist Robert Langdon is stunned when he is approached by a Papal representative to accompany him back to Rome to solve the riddles in time to save Rome and Vatican City from instant annihilation.

Let me begin by saying that the wealth of bonus features on this Blu-ray set makes this set well worth buying.

The first of my favorite featurettes is "Rome Was Not Built In A Day". Here Ron Howard speaks of sending small groups into the Vatican with small but high quality digital cameras to gather as much data as possible in order to recreate it on set. I was amazed to hear that the marble floor of the Pantheon was recreated by printing on paper, glazed, and varnished to look like marble. Watching the film, who of us would believe that the partial set for St. Peter's Square was built on 20 acres in Hollywood Park in Inglewood, CA.

"Writing Angels & Demons" features Ron Howard (Director), Brian Grazer (Producer), Akiva Goldsman (Screenwriter), David Koepp (Screenwriter), Tom Hanks ("Robert Langdon"), and Dan Brown (Author / Executive Producer) talking about writing the screenplay for Angels & Demons.

"Characters In Search Of The True Story" is a fascinating featurette with Ron Howard (Director), Tom Hanks ("Robert Langdon"), Dan Brown (Author / Executive Producer), Brian Grazer (Producer), Ayelet Zurer ("Vittoria Vetra"), Pierfrancesco Favino ("Inspector Olivetti"), Stellan Skarsgård ("Commander Richter"), Armin Mueller-Stahl ("Cardinal Strauss"), and Ewan McGregor ("Camerlengo") discussing the characters of Robert Langdon, Vittoria Vetra, Inspector Olivetti, Commander Richter, Cardinal Strauss, and Camerlengo.

"CERN: Pushing The Frontiers Of Knowledge" takes the viewer on a fascinating tour of CERN and the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). In addition, we learn that the World Wide Web was originally an application created to aid particle physicists and was subsequently made Public Domain in 1993.

"Handling Props" with Ron Howard (Director) and Trish Gallaher Glenn (Property Master) is an interesting story of how the movie's props were fabricated, as well as giving us a guided tour where Ms. Glenn takes us around the sets. Outside of the industry, who among us was even aware that the Property Master has to be everywhere that filming is occurring.

"Angels & Demons: The Full Story" provides us with a marvelous overview of how the film was made.

"This Is An Ambigram" with Ron Howard (Director), Dan Brown (Author / Executive Producer), and John Langdon (Author of Wordplay) was another really interesting featurette. While many of us have heard the word anagram, how many can honestly claim that they know what the word ambigram means. Ambigram comes from the words "Ambi" meaning "Both" and "Gram" meaning "Word" and means a word that can be read both right side up and upside down. Dan Brown's father is a mathematician and bought the book for Dan, Years later Dan contacted John Langdon and asked him to make ambigrams for the four elements (Earth, Air, Fire, and Water) plus an ambigram encompassing all four elements together, as well as one for the Illuminati).

"The Path Of Illumination" is a really cool interactive feature that lets you "Follow Robert Langdon's journey through Rome and see if you can unlock the path of illumination", as well as learn interesting facts about each stop on your journey.

Buying Angels & Demons on Blu-ray disc is well worth the premium that you would otherwise pay for the film and bonus features on DVD, but with four Blu-ray Exclusives and a Digital Copy added to the package. And don't forget that Blu-ray discs provide superior video, audio, and scratch resistance.

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