It's not exactly inaccurate to say that the Vatican hates Dan Brown's guts. Brown is the author of such unrealistic and fluffy pop jewels as The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, and since both pretend to accurately portray the life, history, and secrets of the Vatican, the Vatican therefore kind of hates Dan Brown's guts. They also kind of hate the guts of Ron Howard for directing the screen version of The Da Vinci Code, and by association, actor Tom Hanks for starring as the film's bookworm protagonist, Robert Langdon.
However, in an odd turn of events, the Vatican's newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, deigned to actually review the screen version of Angels & Demons last week, and as it turns out? They didn't hate its guts very much. In fact, they kind of, sort of, moderately enjoyed it (somewhat). And even more shockingly? For once, I find myself kind of agreeing with the Vatican.
In this outing, symbologist Langdon is called in by the Vatican when a modern sect of the Illuminati kidnaps four cardinals, and threatens to explode and level the city with an anti-matter bomb. (Yeah, it's that ridiculous. So what?) Using all the bookwormy skills at his disposal (along with some comely help from scientist/hottie Ayelet Zurer), Langdon must race back and forth across the city to rescue the cardinals, the Vatican, and a mostly useless (and for all practical purposes, dead) religion.
While Howard treads a bit too lightly for my taste on the hypocritical eggshells of Catholicism, I'm with the Vatican's film critic, who calls the director's work "dynamic and alluring" and the film a "gigantic and smart commercial operation." Howard has always been a bit of a genius when it comes to keeping long-winded exposition moving and entertaining—even when it's spoken by "stereotyped characters" and "riddled with inaccuracies." (Right you are, Vatican!) Hanks and co-star Ewan McGregor are mostly wasted in their uninteresting roles, but that's hardly the point. As the Roger Ebert of the Vatican puts it, Angels & Demons is "a videogame that first of all sparks curiosity and is also, maybe, a bit of fun."
So whether you're a hard-line Catholic (or a lapsed unbeliever), Angels & Demons is neither heaven nor hell. It's just, as the Vatican rightly puts it, "two hours of harmless entertainment, which hardly affects the genius and mystery of Christianity." (As for that last point, I might argue that the film can't affect anything that wasn't there in the first place, but... let's just agree to disagree.)