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Angels & Demons

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People have been coming up to me for days with big grins on their faces to ask me what I thought of "Angels & Demons," director Ron Howard's sequel to the inexplicably successful "The Da Vinci Code" of 2006. I figure they expect an attack on the picture.

Despite its box-office clout, not many of us actually liked "Da Vinci," and the 21st century hasn't been kind to Howard so far "? critically, he's two for six since 2000, with an Oscar that generated some disappointed grumbling.

But I'm surprising my inquisitors "? if I may use that word in connection with a movie about errors in Catholic Church history "? by grinning right back and telling them that I enjoyed the hell out of "Angels & Demons." I don't believe a word of it and it's dumber than a sack full of cut grass, but it's the first crowd-pleaser of the summer for people who couldn't care less for comic books and defunct science-fiction TV series.

Tom Hanks ("Charlie Wilson's War") returns as Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon. This time, he's called to the Vatican because someone has stolen a container of antimatter and is threatening to destroy Vatican City with it, along the way kidnapping four cardinals, one of whom will surely be elected pope since the last guy who had the job just died. See what I mean? Silly.

EVERY HOUR ON THE HOUR
One cardinal will be killed tonight at 8 p.m., and the rest will be murdered every hour on the hour until the antimatter blows everything up at midnight. Suspicion has been cast on the Illuminati, a secret society of scientists and forward-thinkers formed during the Renaissance and persecuted by the Church. Now they're back "? and this time it's personal.

So Langdon joins up with the physicist who wants to retrieve the antimatter, which she intends to use for good, and luckily for us, doc is a she, Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer, "Munich"). They gain the blessing of Carmelengo Patrick McKenna (Ewan McGregor, "Deception"), who is pretty much in charge of the Vatican until a new pope is selected. The investigative team is made up of the head of the Swiss Guard, Cmdr. Richter (Stellan Skarsg

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