At the world premiere of “Angels & Demons” earlier this week, director Ron Howard said his team extended invitations to members of the Catholic Church but had not heard back.
“Maybe somebody will show up,” he said Monday as he walked the red carpet outside the Auditorium Parco Della Musica in Rome, less than a mile from Vatican City.
“Maybe tomorrow’s comments will reflect somebody who has actually seen the film,” Howard told CNN, alluding to what criticisms have come out so far.
Well, it became apparent Wednesday – not Tuesday – that someone from the Vatican had seen the film.
In a review of the movie dated for the May 7 edition of the weekly Italian language L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s official newspaper broke out from its long silence and confirmed the presence of many historical inaccuracies in the movie, as many critics pointed out.
But it didn’t lash out against the makers of the film, as some Catholics have done.
Instead, it reviewed the upcoming film as if it would any other film and even went as far as praising Howard for the "magnificent" reconstruction of church monuments such as St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel – a feat that had been done through the use of secret cameras and quick drive-by shots. As a general rule, no commercial films are filmed in churches in Rome, and no exception was made for “Angels & Demons.”
Furthermore, the newspaper noted that the Catholic Church is on the side of the good guys in “Angels & Demons,” unlike “The Da Vinci Code,” to which the upcoming movie serves as a sequel.
In The Da Vinci Code, author Brown had vilified the Catholic group Opus Dei as a secretive and murderous cult – a depiction that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops denounced as “deeply abhorrent.”
In “Angels & Demons,” however, it is the Catholic Church that protagonist Robert Langdon is working to defend, and the group suspected of trying to destroy Vatican City is one, unlike Opus Dei, that is no longer operating today.
Despite the praise and compliments, the review stopped short of endorsing the film and compared it to a video game that “first of all ignites curiosity, and then, perhaps amuses a little also.”
The movie is “harmless entertainment” that “hardly affects the genius and mystery of Christianity," it said.
"Angels & Demons" hits theaters on May 15.