Side-stepping the furor caused by The Da Vinci Code, the prequel film Angels & Demons has officially received a warm welcome from the Vatican. After its world premiere in Rome, a review ran in L’Osservatore Romano (the Vatican’s official newspaper) highlighting some of the film’s faults but also often praising its direction, setting, and entertainment value.
"The theme is always the same in both novels: a sect versus the church, even though the parts of the good and the bad are distributed differently," L'Osservatore wrote Wednesday. "This time, with Angels & Demons, the church is on the side of the good guys." The paper blasted the plot’s “stereotyped characters” but called the movie ”a gigantic and smart commercial operation" with “magnificent” reconstructions of landmarks like St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel (the Catholic Church banned any filming at the original locations).
The paper went on to say that Angels & Demons was like "a videogame that first of all sparks curiosity and is also, maybe, a bit of fun", hardly something that could affect “the genius and mystery of Christianity."
Church officials were strongly opposed to the first film since it centered on the idea that Jesus was married and had children. It also depicted Opus Dei- an existing conservative Catholic movement- as a murderous cult. The second film has Tom Hanks- returning as Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon- helping the Vatican after a ancient secret brotherhood kidnaps four cardinals who are front-runners to be the next pope and threatens to kill one an hour before bombing the Vatican.