Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Angels and Demons 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
Tom Hanks stars as professor Robert Langdon, the most respected symbologist in the United States, who uses his knowledge in order to decode a symbol on the skin of a murder victim. The clues put him on the trail of an international conspiracy involving the Catholic Church. Based on the novel by Dan Brown, Angels and Demons was directed by Ron Howard from a screenplay by David Koepp and Akiva Goldsman. Both films feature all-new interviews with Tom Hanks, Ron Howard, Dan Brown and Brian Grazer, as well as a first look at the highly anticipated third installment of the franchise, Inferno. Additionally, both include a wide variety of insightful and compelling featurettes that delve into the creation of these thrilling adventure favorites, as well as deleted scenes.
Film (4 out of 5 stars)
Particle Physicist Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer) has just made an amazing breakthrough in her research. She is a part of a team in Switzerland that has just created anti-matter, also known as the God Particle. The Pope has unexpectedly passed away and symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) has been called to the Vatican. An old enemy of the church, The Illuminati, have resurfaced. They have kidnapped four Cardinals and are threatening to kill them. The Camerlengo (Ewan McGregor) is in charge until a new Pope is elected. Commander Richter (Stellan Skaarsgard) is the head of the Swiss Guard that protects the Pope. The scientist, the symbologist, the priest and the police are all trying to save the Cardinals and the Church while a new pope is being in conclave.

Including the recent theatrical release Inferno, Angels and Demons is by far my favorite film of the Langdon movies. With all the complexities of any of Dan Brown’s puzzles, Angels and Demons is not difficult to follow. I enjoyed the way the rituals and ceremonies of the catholic church are explained. Although they weren’t allowed access to the Vatican to film, it’s clear that extensive research was done to make the viewer feel like you are there. Genuine suspense builds as the church seems full of enemies. It would have been completely plausible to find out anyone was the ‘bad guy’. 

The film is well laid out and the clues are easy to follow. For some people, that comes across as a less intelligent film than the first film The Da Vinci Code. For me, it means that it’s a straight forward thriller. It makes sense to me that the first film would blow your mind with following the clues and the second would take it down a notch.
Video (5 out of 5 stars)
Angels & Demons in ultra-high definition is impressive. This is a true 4k presentation with excellent fine detail, deep black levels and accurate textures. The color palette is rich and broad, fully exploring the Da Vinci reds. Flesh tones are even and consistent and the brands offer burnt skin real enough to make the squeamish turn away. Whether the actions takes you rushing down a dark street, through hidden passages or underground, you’ll always be able to clearly see the action. Even people on fire appear like they are really burning. The film looks really, really good on Blu-ray but near perfect in UHD.
Audio (5 out of 5 stars)
Angels & Demons' 4K UHD release offers a Dolby Atmos soundtrack. The mix is dynamic, crystal clear and makes use of all channels. When the atom collider gets to work, you can feel the steam building. Dialogue is consistently intelligible throughout the film, with no trouble deciphering various accents. The music is rich and helps move the story, without ever overwhelming it. Police sirens, car chases and gunfire all present as authentic, with discernible ricochets helping to sell the action.
Extras (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Sony's UHD release of Angels & Demons has most of the supplemental material featured on the Blu-ray companion disc. The UHD does contain the following highlights: Illuminati, Robert Langdon, Vittoria Vetra and Camerlengo Patrick McKenna. Under Cast & Crew, you’ll find still photos of cast and crew.

The Blu-ray disc contains these extras:
  • Legacy of Langdon with First Look at Inferno – A look at the recent theatrical release Inferno with interviews from Tom Hanks, Ron Howard, Dan Brown and Brian Grazer.
  • Extended Cut Scenes - Not Eligible, Parking, Pressure Change, In the Church, Oxygen, Law, Seeking Guidance, We Must Open the Doors, Gunfight, Oxygen Mask, and Impossible. 
  • Rome Was Not Built in a Day – Having learned from the first film that the Vatican would not offer access, the amazingly accurate sets were built in a parking lot.
  • Writing Angels & Demons – Ron Howard discusses why he chose to go on with the Langdon character. The original screenwriter explains why this film was more easily adaptable but how the writer’s strike lead them to David Koepp.
  • Characters in Search of the True Story – Ron Howard, Dan Brown and others take a look at each primary character in depth and their connections to the story.
  • CERN: Pushing the Frontiers of Knowledge – More with Ron Howard and his research at CERN. Unlike the Vatican, CERN did provide access and comment. The CERN Director of Communications explains how they work and what they do.
  • Handling Props – The art department had their work cut out for them in this film. The property master introduces many of the elements created for the film including weapons, specialized props, and books.
  • Angels & Demons: The Full Story – A comprehensive featurette which includes information about shooting in Rome, dressing Vatican City, cinematography, and fire stunts.
  • This is an Ambigram – An ambigram is literally defined. The symmetrical designs created for the film are detailed.
  • Teaser Trailer 
  • Theatrical Trailer 
  • Digital Copy of the Film
Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
The sequel to The Da Vinci Code performs extremely well on 4k Ultra HD and Blu-ray. The Robert Langdon character butts heads with local police, the Swiss Guard and the Vatican as he rushes to save the city. The story is laid out in a way that makes perfect sense from the end (with hindsight being 20/20). However, you do need a mind like Langdon to have figured it out from the beginning. The film looks and sounds excellent on Blu-ray and nears perfection in UHD. Even after repeated viewings the film remains entertaining and thrilling. Recommended.

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