SRP $39.95 2.40:1 DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 SONY

The film adaptation of the Dan Brown best-seller, "ANGELS AND DEMONS" has been released on blu-ray. For those who hated "THE DAVINCI CODE," (as did this critic) there's a lot to be thankful for this time out. To begin with, Director Ron Howard has picked up the pace here. While some moments are a bit predictable, "ANGELS AND DEMONS" never feels blatantly stupid and cartoonish as "DAVINCI CODE" did.  Tom Hanks reprises his role as symbol specialist extraordinaire, Robert Langdon. Gone is the ridiculous haircut of the first film, along with laughable characters the audience is supposed to be afraid of like the albino/assassin of "DV CODE."  After a gripping beginning, wherein someone murders a worker at a Swiss facility, to steal a mechanism that holds "anti-matter" that had just been created, Langdon is called upon to help solve what at first seems to be a seemingly unrelated situation at the Vatican. After the Pope has died, before a new one can be elected, someone has kidnapped four cardinals, and Langdon's expertise is needed to solve the riddles associated with the kidnappings, left by the "Illuminati," long-time enemies (or victims)of the church.  That missing container of anti-matter is another factor in the investigation as whatever danger it possesses will soon be released, threatening countless lives.

The scripts is much better than the previous effort, and Hanks' performance is more serious and believable. But, everyone here is terrific. Stellan Skarsgard as head of the Swiss Guard brings depth to his role and real mystery as to his true allegiance and motivations. Ewan McGregor is also brilliant, giving his role a natural presence that's just perfect. Understated in a way, that allows various surprises about his character and its relations/motivations to others, to come across with some real surprise, but never ringing untrue in the process.

For fans of Dan Brown's work, the various tactics and explanations to the way in which Langdon deciphers the various clues, while running against time, trying to save lives, is often gripping, and feels in tone with the book.

"ANGELS AND DEMONS" won't leave viewers chomping at the bit for a possible "follow-up" to the Langdon series, but it won't leave them feeling bored or hateful of the franchise as "ANGELS AND DEMONS" succeeded in doing, either.

SONY has gone all out for this blu-ray release, providing both the theatrical version and an extended edition too.   A 2.40:1 aspect ratio is intact with this AVC MPEG-4 1080p blu-ray. While there are many scenes wherein colors are intentionally subdued, brighter scenes allow them to emanate in a stunning way, offering exquisite levels of vibrancy. During the frequently dark, cavernous scenes, detail is never lost, as blacks are inky and contrast levels are nearly flawless. The production design and costumes cry out for great detail, and that's what they and every aspect of this presentation gets! "ANGELS AND DEMONS" is stunning to look at, from beginning to end!

SONY has provided a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix.  Virtually every scene of this movie, showcases the full dramatic potential for a well designed lossy mix.  Whether it's a cue from the great score, a subtle effect, or many of the full-on immersive effects, the precise balance and accuracy of the full breadth from low bass to high's, is flawlessly executed! "ANGELS AND DEMONS" is one of the truly great reference quality soundmixes available on blu-ray!

SONY has presented this release as a 3-disc set, offering both film versions on the first disc, along with BD-Live extras, extensive bios of cast and crew, recent updates about each scene, 1080p trailers, a virtual travel adventure within Rome, guided by Robert Langdon, allowing for extensive information about each of the five sites one visits.

A behind-the-scenes featurette(1080p) explores the film's development and production. "Writing Angels and Demons" explores and praises the writing process and the two scriptwriters and their adaptation, as well as various aspects of what their work meant for the finished product. The other featurettes are hit-or-miss, with all but one, "CERN: PUSHING THE FRONTIERS OF KNOWLEDGE(1080i)in full 1080p. 

The third disc of this 3-disc set is the digital copy.