Angels & Demons (Blu-ray)
I read Dan Brown's novel Angels & Demons a few years ago when his popularity exploded with The Da Vinci Code, which Ron Howard adapted for the screen in 2006.That movie was a box-office success, but it failed to capture the magic of the novel. This time around, things improve slightly with more suspense, tighter action, and no protests from the Catholic Church. Tom Hanks delivers another strong performance, and the supporting players, such as Ewan McGregor and Stellan Skarsgård, hold their own, although their characters are a bit shallow due to the script.
Sony delivers another strong AVC encode with rich colors (especially Cardinal red), deep blacks, and superior contrast. Detail is first-rate, with revealing close-ups, textured clothing, and architectural elements. Every stone in the Vatican buildings is clearly resolved, and the flyover shots of Rome are breathtaking. Shadows are equally mesmerizing, especially when Langdon is exploring the underground tunnels of the city.
Hans Zimmer is one of my favorite composers, and he delivers another outstanding score with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. It seamlessly integrates with the action and ratchets up the tension when needed. Beyond the score, the imaging is precise across the front soundstage, and discrete cues emanate from every speaker. The sound of dripping water or whispers echoing through the church places the viewer in the sceneon more than one occasion, I thought I had a dripping faucet. Dialog is mostly clear, although McGregor mumbles a line or two. Overall, this is a stellar audio experience.
The three-disc set includes the theatrical and extended cuts on disc one, the majority of the supplements on disc two, and a digital copy on disc three. Bonus materials on disc one include Sony's CineChat feature and MovieIQ, which connects to IMDb for information about the cast, crew, and other aspects of the production.
Disc two is loaded with information regarding the production, starting with "The Path of Illumination," which travels to five of the locations seen in the filmPiazza Del Popolo, Santa Maria Della Vittoria, Pantheon, Piazza Navona, and St. Peter's Squarewith video clips and text information regarding the history of the locations, where they are in the story, and other goodies such as symbology lessons and behind-the-scenes footage. Other featurettes include "Rome Was Not Built in a Day," which highlights the special effects, the sets and locations, and adapting the novel to the big screen; "Characters in Search of the True Story," in which cast members give their impressions about bringing their book characters to life; "Writing Angels & Demons," which includes interviews with Dan Brown and the screenwriters; "CERN: Pushing the Frontiers of Knowledge," which looks at one of the world's largest and most respected scientific research centers; and finally, a smattering of additional featurettes that include a look at the props, the requisite "making-of" piece, and some ambigrams.
It's rare that a sequel is better than the first film, but that's the case here, although not by a huge margin. I'm a big fan of Tom Hanks, and I've enjoyed every film he's been in, so maybe I'm a bit biased. Regardless, the presentation is outstanding, and if you enjoyed the book, you'll be pleased with the adaptation. Recommended.
Release Date: November 24, 2009
Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray player
JVC DLA-RS1 projector
Stewart FireHawk screen (76.5" wide, 16:9)
Onkyo Pro PR-SC885 pre/pro
Anthem PVA-7 power amplifier
Belkin PF60 power conditioner
M&K S-150s (L, C, R)
M&K SS-150s (LS, RS, SBL, SBR)
SVS PC-Ultra subwoofer
Monoprice HDMI cables (source to pre/pro)
Best Deal analog-audio cables
PureLink HDC Fiber Optic HDMI Cable System (15 meters) from pre/pro to projector
Acoustical treatments from GIK Acoustics