One Pope is dead and someone is murdering the preferiti, the cardinals in line to be the next Vicar of Christ. Add to the mix a canister of antimatter set to blow up Vatican City and you have the recipe for suspense in ANGELS & DEMONS, the sequel to THE DA VINCI CODE.
Ron Howard knows how to make slick, Hollywood films and ANGELS & DEMONS does not disappoint in that department. The location shots around Rome and recreations of the Vatican are visually splendid, rich with art and architecture. Scripters Akiva Goldsman and David Koepp gloss over any religious trappings and wisely focus instead on the mystery-thriller aspects of the story.
Hans Zimmer also downplays the “holier than thou” religious overtones that made THE DA VINCI CODE such a musical snore and ramps up the tempo with one of his most exciting scores in years. With its chanting chorus and churning, pulsating syncopation, Zimmer’s music provides the dramatic heartbeat of the film.
Another plus for the score is the addition of Joshua Bell as violin soloist. In tracks such as “Fire” and “Election by Adoration,” Bell’s tone strikes just the right balance between emotional catharsis and pious faith.
“160 BPM” starts the CD off with a bang. At 160 beats per minute (BPM, get it?), the music briskly accompanies our intreprid scholar (Tom Hanks) as he tries to beat the clock before the first of the preferiti is assassinated. The track sets the rapid pace for the rest of actions cues throughout the score.
The spectacularly preposterous climax of the film offers Zimmer the musical highpoint of the score. The 12-minute “Science and Religion” cue plays out like a heavenly tone poem, with Bell’s violin climbing ever higher as if the population of St. Peter’s Square were seeing the very face of God.
Fans of Zimmer work will find echoes of the sonic landscape he provided for last year’s THE DARK KNIGHT. And while the music focuses more on rhythmic and motivic content than melody, the score provides a high level of excitement. After years of meh regarding Zimmer’s work, I’m happy to report that ANGELS & DEMONS is a fiendishly good score.