Dan Brown has been much maligned by the snobby literary elite so I expect this big screen adaptation of his best selling novel Angels and Demons to be subjected to a similar fate by high-brow movie reviewers.

But, as a fan of Brown’s work, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. Okay it inevitably dilutes the book’s complex themes and plot but the essence of this thrilling adventure into the worlds of science, religion, politics, art and academia is not spoilt by director Ron Howard’s treatment.

Tom Hanks reprises his Da Vinci Code role as Harvard symbologist professor Robert Langdon who is summoned to the Vatican when, after the pope’s death, four of his most likely successors are kidnapped by a secret, ancient, anti-Catholic brotherhood known as the Illuminati. The group says it will kill a cardinal every hour until midnight when they will detonate an anti-matter bomb stolen from a Swiss research lab which will annihilate Vatican City.

Langdon joins forces with Italian scientist Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer) to unscramble clues to a 400-year-old secret path of illumination through Rome in a desperate bid to save the Catholic Church.

The ever-versatile Hanks once again shines as super-smart Langdon who makes light work of deciphering the clues to the cardinals’ locations. His partnership with Israeli actress Zurer as Vittoria works well as the pair are well matched in terms of brains and bravery.

The murders by the four elements – earth, air, fire and water – are well executed and the fire scene in particular is shocking stuff.

Despite the film crew being refused permission to film in Vatican buildings, we get a real taste of Rome as Vittoria and Langdon race through the streets to sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs and deserted cathedrals in their quest.

Stellan Skarsgaard is suitably shifty as Commander Richter and Ewan McGregor is reasonable as the Camerlengo – but fans of the book will feel cheated he has been transformed into an Irishman, particularly as McGregor’s accent regularly slips back into his native Scots. This change also has serious implications for the film’s plot as one of the book’s gripping final twists has to be completely eliminated.

Working within a film’s time constraints Howard understandably had to cut something out of the 600-page book but sadly some of the key characterisation and plot have been lost on the cutting room floor.

In particular the supposedly cold-blooded assassin (Nikolaj Lie Kaas), who is truly menacing in the book, is relegated to Scooby Doo villain status when confronted by Langdon and Vittoria, promising not to hurt the unnarmed pair unless they follow him.

But, despite these little gripes, this is a thrilling rollercoaster of a movie which is a great advertisement for Brown’s brilliantly vivid story telling.