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Angels and Demons and Agnostic Harvard Symbologists, Oh My! [Jun. 8th, 2009|11:08 am]
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Okay, I finally saw Angels and Demons, the sequel to The DaVinci Code, in which Symbology Professor Robert Langton (Tom Hanks) is once again called upon to solve a problem for the Vatican using clues that were literally under their noses the whole time, but that they couldn't do anything with because they'd forgotten 90% of their own organizational history, and were doctrinally bound to ignore the other 9%. I suppose Langton could have told his reluctant-but-admiring clients something like "Guys, your own libraries, archives and museums are right next door, why do you have to fly me here from Boston?" Or he could have got all Kanye West and just said "Homeys, this shit is basic!" But that would mean there would be no movie, and no hilariously implusible chase scenes through the Vespa-clogged romantic cobblestone streets of Rome; so off we go once again to give our tourists more cool places to look for the next time they go to Rome. And besides, Langton is a slut for a good symbol-chase and the Church has become a slut for Langton. And let's face it, we, the American movie-watching public, are sluts for action movies that take place in scenic places like Rome. (If Rick Steves wants to make his travel videos more popular, he needs to put more chase scenes and gunfire into them. Just grab a hot local babe, grab a taxi, and force your wife to hire a local PI and chase you at a high speed past whatever monument, museum or other point-of-interest you want to show us. But I digress...)

The movie begins with all of Christendom mourning the death of a "progressive Pope," and right away I'm rolling my eyes and yearning for the believability of a Bourne movie. And it only gets worse from there. Yes, there is a Large Hadron Collider; yes, it's in Switzerland; and yes, there was some controversy about the alleged theoretical danger involved in its activities. But no, they were not trying to create antimatter and store it in a magnetic containment field; nor would this have anything to do with "new energy sources," for obvious reasons; nor, to my knowledge at least, is antimatter considered particularly crucial to understanding the "moment of creation."

And no, the magnetic field required to contain any significant quantity of antimatter cannot be generated by a device that can fit in a backpack. And no, a battery that can fit in your pocket would not be sufficient to power such a force-field for one second, let alone a day. (Although it would have been absolutely hilarious to see Langton and his hot -- excuse me, "high energy" -- particle-physicist partner leading some spiffily-dressed Italian cops on yet another chase to find a drugstore in central Rome that was open late and had the right size of battery to power an antimatter containment field. Good luck explaining that to a Sikh pharmacist. I hope those coantinment fields don't need size "C" batteries -- they're hard as Hell to find, especially during severe weather when people need them to power radios and the Illuminati are conspiring to keep them off the shelves long enough to blow up the Vatican.)

And no, there's no generation-spanning secret society called the Illuminati. That Order was founded in the eighteenth century, and busted not long afterword by the Church and secular authorities, along with its founder Adam Weisshaupt. And if you're living in the present day, and you're dumb enough to imagine/create/join/revive such a "secret society," and think you're doing something significant, then you're too dumb to infiltrate the Vatican hierarchy. Just join the damn Church and pretend to be a cleric; don't mess it all up by pretending to be part of an ancient global conspiracy pretending to be clerics.

And no, there's no way in Hell anyone, or any group for that matter, can kidnap four Cardinals from the most secure parts of the Vatican, imprison them, brand them, and then set them up for elaborate executions in public places all over Rome (even public places closed for renovation) without being caught long before they complete the setup. That kind of thing only happens in stoopid horror movies like Untraceable.

And yet, after the first three-fourths of the movie takes us deeper and deeper into the realm of total impalusible nonsensical bollocks, there's a not-quite-predictable plot-twist that suddenly causes the basic story to make sense. Not the antimatter or Illuminati bits, of course, but the basic conflict between two warring mindsets, both of which turn out to have been horribly misrepresented, and not without any fault of their own, either. I won't add any spoilers this time. Go see this movie. You'll only regret it up until the end.

This movie is much better put together than The DaVinci Code -- which (like the book) was, let's face it, an idea-film first, with a totally ridiculous religio-historical detective story cobbled up to provide "action." This time, people who get paid to write action stories are in the game, and have given us a much more plausible story to follow, without the encumbrance of ideas and insights that, brilliant though they may be, just don't work that well on the big screen. Oh, and the scriptwriters don't have to make up some new fake-techno-jargon "solution" at the very end to get themselves out of the corner they wrote themselves into.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: phoenix_glow
2009-06-10 06:32 pm (UTC)

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It was a silly movie. I felt like the trailers were better than the actual flick. I kept laughing at things, and I don't think they were meant to be funny. Like when RL finally manages to break open the wall of the vault, and two minutes later, the air comes back on. Like every time RL goes into this special amazing vault, he destroys something.

The suspension of disbelief just didn't work well enough for me to enjoy the movie. WHY is a super-model scientist helping on this symbology chase? WHY is one guy able to kidnap, brand and execute four guys in public places all by his lone self?

It was a silly movie. I expected more!
[User Picture]From: motherwell
2009-06-11 01:31 pm (UTC)

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I kind of expected it to be silly, and was rolling my eyes at exactly HOW MUCH silliness I was getting, and then was pleasantly surprised at the sudden plot-twist that miraculously made it a little less silly. But yeah, all in all it was still pretty damn silly. I was both laughing at it, and thinking "Damn, they could have done better with this!" (How about if Langdon had talked about the REAL history of the Illuminati, and suggested that any hints of a modern-day conspiracy were probably the work of dumb-ass wannabees? Just a thought...)

Part of the problem may have been that a movie like this couldn't get too serious, relevant, or plausible, without hitting a lot of nerves and offending a lot of Christians. Another part of the problem is that a lot of the ideas movies like this try to cover just don't go over real well on the big screen.

And yeah, I'm seeing supermodel scientists kind of...over-represented in movies these days. I mean, thanx for the nubile eye-candy, but _I'm_ getting to middle age -- anyone ever think I might like a little middle-aged eye-candy? Like someone else said in a thread about the Star Trek movie, middle-aged women just don't seem to exist on the big screen; they're all replaced by babes who somehow manage to get all the education and seasoning the rest of us don't get until we're middle-aged. The only exceptions I can think of offhand are Helen Mirren and Queen Latifah.
[User Picture]From: peaceful_fox
2009-06-23 03:58 pm (UTC)

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I don't know if you got my response to your response in my journal. My journal or my email or both are going haywire. Your post came through several times in email but not in my LJ. The same thing happened with my friend Jo. I locked the post until the emails stop.

At any rate, thank you for your thoughts. (((HUGS)))
[User Picture]From: motherwell
2009-06-23 05:14 pm (UTC)

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No, I didn't get your response before you had to take the post down. Hope LJ manages to sober itself up.
[User Picture]From: peaceful_fox
2009-06-23 07:31 pm (UTC)

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I am glad that I sent you a message to your LJ then. The total tally was 73 emails from that post including 2 missing. Yours is showing up as a blank placeholder as is one from my friend Jo.

At any rate, the deluge seems to have stopped. Back to my regularly scheduled LJ Posting.

Whee! Ow!
[User Picture]From: motherwell
2009-06-23 10:13 pm (UTC)

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You do not know the Way of the Journal. Ow...
[User Picture]From: peaceful_fox
2009-06-23 10:25 pm (UTC)

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*chortle*