Published June 21, 2009
SHANGHAI – Actor Ewan McGregor says the Vatican's criticism of the religious thriller "Angels & Demons" was muted compared to the previous Robert Langdon adventure "The Da Vinci Code" because the newer film doesn't challenge the Catholic faith.
Promoting the movie Sunday in China, where it is showing as the closing film at the 12th Shanghai International Film Festival, McGregor said the Vatican-set "Angels & Demons" is less controversial. In the film, the Scottish actor plays a priest who serves as a top aide to the late pope.
"There's nothing that challenges Catholic or Christian belief in the film. Really, it's just a good, old-fashioned thriller with a bomb ticking away in the background and detectives solving the clues," McGregor said at a press conference.
"There was nothing for anybody to be annoyed about, I believe," he said.
Top church officials strongly objected to the 2006 film "The Da Vinci Code" because it was based on the idea that Jesus married and fathered children and depicted the conservative Catholic movement, Opus Dei, as a murderous cult.
"Angels & Demons," which also features the Harvard symbologist Langdon from the Dan Brown novels, is about Langdon's attempt to help the Holy See thwart a plot by the ancient secret brotherhood Illuminati to kill four cardinals and bomb the Vatican as a new pope is being chosen.
The Vatican's newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano said in a review and editorial that "Angels & Demons" was historically inaccurate and filled with stereotypes, but concluded it is "harmless" entertainment and not a danger to the church.
The newspaper also praised director Ron Howard's "dynamic direction" and the "magnificent" reconstruction of locations like St. Peter's Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. Much of the film was shot on sets that painstakingly recreated church landmarks.
McGregor appeared in Shanghai with co-star Ayelet Zurer.