Last night I saw Angels & Demons, starring Tom Hanks and Ewan McGregor.
When we begin this film, the follow-up to commercially successful-yet-critically hated Da Vinci Code, Professor Langdon (Hanks) is being summoned to Vatican City because four cardinals (who are in the running to become the next Pope) have been kidnapped by a group claiming to be the Illuminati, an angry sect of scientists that have revived an ancient anti-church secret society.
Langdon is sent to crack the code behind the letter they sent detailing what they're going to do (execute said cardinals AND blow up Vatican City with some stolen antimatter). But of course, the Vatican doesn't like his academic approaches to life and disdain for their church, so they deny him entry to their archives. Because he needs information in the archives to figure out the puzzle, he appeals to the Camerlengo in charge (McGregor) who appears to have a soft spot for Langdon and grants him access. Oh, and there's a pretty physicist that tags along because she knows how to A) translate Latin and B) change the battery on the contraption that's keeping the antimatter from blowing up the country.
To go any further in the plot would be to spoil, so I will just say this: yes, it is better than the prior film. The action carries the audience through the scenes much faster this time, and the clever one-liners are actually kept to a minimum. Hanks also has a less annoying haircut, which makes it easier to take his ever-serious lines, well... seriously. And the supporting players in McGregor and Stellan Skarsgard, who plays a stern Commander, are phenomenal in their roles. A major scene at the end has amazing special effects too.
On the minus side, the film is very bloody and the main "bad guy" is incredibly sexy, which makes it very difficult to believe he's all that bad.
But the tension is there, and the acting is solid, and it's nice to see so much of Italy in the many exterior scenes the movie holds.
Not a bad kickoff to the popcorn season of summer films.