Robert Langdon 3-Movie Set – Blu-ray Edition

The Da Vince Code directed by Ron Howard:

Making a film adapted from a novel that over 100 million people read brings with it huge expectations. The type where you can almost never do right. Tom Hanks and Ron Howard undertook this seemingly impossible task and bore the brunt of the fans and critics alike. In all honesty the film was not as bad as the critics made it out to be. In fact, I was rather entertained through all of it. The cast was good, the cinematography was excellent and director Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, How the Grinch Stole Christmas) kept the pacing of the film so that there was tension throughout.

The problems with the film come from the book itself. Now before you have me shot let me clarify. As a novel it was based on a sequence of outlandish events that are next to impossible to translate into a fluid screenplay. Screenwriter Akiva Goldsman (Cinderella Man, I, Robot) did what he could with the mess. The film is fairly true to the novel with a few changes to make it possible and logical film wise. One thing he did change was the ending and it was fairly divided as to whether it was better or not.

Because of the complexities of the story (back and forth, etc.), the movie gets occasionally bogged down. Slowness is sometimes a problem. To sum up the anticipation of a film of this type often causes the expectations to be out of control and most end up disappointed. Give it a chance and you’ll see that it is really not a bad film!

Harvard professor of Symbols, Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks – Philadelphia, You’ve Got Mail) is guest lecturing in Paris when he is summoned to the Louvre to try and decipher some clues left at the scene of a murder. It is the chief curator of the Louvre who has been murdered and he has left some clues in his own blood which have stumped the French police.

Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou – Dirty Pretty Things, Amelie), who is a cryptologist, arrives and claims to be there to help Langdon. Very soon into it both Neveu and Langdon realized that all is not as it seems with the murder and Langdon himself is soon implicated in the crime. They are soon running from the authorities themselves across Europe to avoid being arrested. Helped by Langdon old friend, Sir Leigh Teabing (Ian McKellen – X-Men: The Last Stand, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King) are on the modern day equivalent of a quest for the Holy Grail.

Angels & Demons directed by Ron Howard:

In the day, Dan Brown’s novels about Professor Robert Langdon and his religiously affiliated adventures were huge best sellers.  Everyone read them and talked about them around the water cooler at work.  In other words, hot, hot, hot.  The temperature has cooled off, but I am sure will be ramped up as the third film, Inferno, is about to be released.  That makes it the perfect time to revisit the previous two films in the Langdon series.

This one is the second, Angels & Demons.  It follows the familiar path of Professor Robert Langdon being brought on to help solve a mystery or save the world from mad people who are usually parts of some religiously affiliated secret group that is uber powerful.  Makes for lots of chase scenes or ones involving a race against the clock.  Tension is the name of the game and though you don’t always know (if you have not previously read the book) who is behind the dastardly deeds, you do know that in films like the that the good guys always triumph.

Symbologist Professor Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks – Cast Away, Philadelphia) is called in by the Vatican.  He is brought to Rome after the death of the Pope and at the beginning of the next papal conclave due to a threat.  Four cardinals have already been kidnapped by a mysterious group and their lives are hanging by a thread. The Camerlengo (Ewan McGregor – Trainspotting, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen) acknowledges the danger and has sent for Langdon hoping that his expertise can be of use to crack the riddles sent by the kidnappers.

Once Langdon begins the investigation, aided by scientist Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer – Munich, Man of Steel), he has only hours to come up with the answers to the riddles which will lead to the locations of the four cardinals hopefully before they are killed. On top of that the kidnappers seem to have gotten their hands on an explosive which was in part designed by Vittoria that could kill millions.

What is fun about the films in the Langdon series is that though they are fiction there is enough history to be found.  Keeps things fairly realistic.  Who hasn’t wondered about the existence of the Illuminati?  Okay, you do have to suspend belief in regards to the scale of things and that groups like this could attempt to do the things they do.  But it is a film and not a history lesson.

Another interesting part of this one is the science versus religion aspect.  Amazingly, unlike the The Da Vinci Code, this one seems to not have upset the Catholic Church.  They brushed it off as harmless.  That is probably the case because the Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Frost/Nixon) film functions as a travel brochure for the Vatican City.

This is the type of film you watch for pure entertainment.  It is fast paced and always in motion.  The twists and turns involved with keep you interested.  If you enjoyed The Da Vinci Code then you will like this one as well.

Inferno directed by Ron Howard:

Waking up in a hospital in Rome not knowing where he is and with a nasty head wound, Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is once again smack in the middle of danger and a mysterious riddle. It does not end there as there are a bunch of people chasing him and it does not seem like there are friendly at all. So, he and his doctor Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything, Rogue One) flee and try to figure out a riddle involving deceased billionaire Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster – Hell or High Water, Warcraft: The Beginning) and a virus that might wipe out a significant amount of the world’s population while staying alive.

Once again Tom Hanks and director Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13) team up to bring a Dan Brown novel to the screen. While the book was a real page turner somehow it does not exactly translate onto the big screen. Mostly because there have been plenty of changes from book to screen. And not for the better.

The ending of the film is a major problem. Within the film the driving force is the issue of overpopulation of the planet. Somehow in the end no mass amount of people die (no really a spoiler, is it?), but neither is no solution or even an opinion of how to handle the primary issue of the film. Very unsatisfying.

Too bad for as usual the locations are great and the cast is strong. Even the story has potential, but all that potential is wasted. Sloppy story management and honestly a disappointed turn behind the camera by the usually steady Ron Howard.

Special Features:

-Digital Copy

-Extended & Deleted Scenes

-Visions of Hell

-Inferno Around the World

-A Look at Langdon

-This is Sienna Brooks

-The Billionaire Villain: Bertrand Zobrist

-Ron Howard: A Director’s Journal

-Previews of Ghostbusters, Money Monster, Beyond Valkyrie: Dawn of the Fourth Reich

-Legacy of Langdon with First Look at Inferno

-Extended Cut Scenes

-Rome Was Not Built in a Day

-Writing Angels & Demons

-Characters in Search of the True Story

-Cern: Pushing the Frontiers of Knowledge

-Handling Props

-Angels & Demons: The Full Story

-This is an Ambigram

-Teaser Trailer

-Theatrical Trailer

-Commentary with Director Ron Howard

-Launching a Legacy With a First Look at Inferno