Now I think Dan Brown is a really crap writer; the “hidden history” he exposes is stuff that anyone with a vaguely erudite Western education has known about since they were about 10, his characters are wooden, his plots incredibly ridiculous and the logic of the proposed puzzle solving process so frustratingly childish, I could break things. I mean: Google it, for God’s sake, and have done. Anyway, whilst the Da Vinci Code rose above its mediocre beginnings (mostly thanks to the campy menace of Sir Ian McKellern and Paul Bettany) the latest Dan Brown pic to hit our screens – Angels & Demons – crashes and burns…..
This time round, some nutter has stolen anti-matter from a Swiss laboratory, and is threatening to use it to blow up Vatican City during the conclave that’s been called to elect a new Pope. And because said nutcase is apparently a member of the Illuminati, a secret sect determined to bring scientific enlightenment to the Papacy (surely it would take more than a 5 megaton blast to effect that kind of lasting change?) the personality-less Professor Robert Langdon (Hanks sans mullet) is called upon to decifer the clues. Thus follows another chase, this time across a picturesque Rome, with the dull protagonists doing unfathomably stupid things – and always a little too late to save the Cardinals and find the bomb.
Anyway, frankly, the way more interesting part of Angels & Demons is its backstory – the challenges the team underwent to bring the movie to the big screen. Obstacles included an obstructive church hierarchy (who perhaps missed the point that in this film they are actually the good guys) and forced many of the physical church interiors to be rebuilt on a sound stage or recreated on a 360 degree green screen – including a full size Sistine Chapel. There was also a summer filming schedule that resulted in scenes inundated with crowds of intrusive tourists singing the Happy Days theme tune. I found a lot of good stuff at the film’s Wikipedia site.
Take good note of this too, though: Angels was planned as an eco-friendly shoot, with the production team selecting locations based on how much time and fuel it would save, using cargo containers to support set walls or greenscreens, and storing props for future productions or donating them to charity. Having just attended Film London’s Green Screen launch, I can assure you this is a trend to watch……