Three years ago, reviews for "The Da Vinci Code" were savage, with the film adaptation of the Dan Brown bestseller rating only 46 at Meta Critic and a jaw-dropping 10 among the top tier of reviewers surveyed by Rotten Tomatoes. Tom Hanks was ridiculed for growing long tresses to play the part of crime-solving professor Robert Langdon. And helmer Ron Howard came under attack for his handling of the fanciful plot.
Indeed, the Oscar-winning director ("A Beautiful Mind") received the only Razzie nomination of his career for "The Da Vinci Code." In an ironic twist, he lost this dubious honor to M. Night Shyamalan, who had helmed "Lady in the Water," which featured Howard's actress daughter Bryce Dallas Howard in the title role. Shyamalan would win a record four Razzies that night as he also wrote, produced and costarred in this dud.
Howard had the last laugh as his film took in $217 million in the U.S. — to rank fifth for the year – and a staggering $540 million in the rest of the world. "The Da Vinci Code" even landed a 2007 People's Choice Award nomination though it lost the title of favorite movie drama to the No. 1 domestic box office draw "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest."
So it was inevitable that "Angels and Demons" — the other Dan Brown book to feature Langdon — would be made into a movie by good pals Hanks and Howard. The film – which is actually a prequel to "The Da Vinci Code" in terms of timeline — opens today to a much wider range of reviews. Perhaps Hanks cutting his hair helped with the cause?
"Angels and Demons" even earned respectable notices from the likes of Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times and Carrie Rickey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. However, there were still enough brickbats thrown by critics such as David Edelstein of New York and John Anderson of the Washington Post that it scored only 50 at Meta Critic and 41 with Rotten Tomatoes.
Photo: Columbia Pictures