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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Angels & Demons ...

- Ewan McGregor (R) as the Camerlengo Patrick McKenna

I've had a some past posts about the film Angels & Demons (like Angels, demons, and particle accelerators), but that was before the movie was released. Now that it's out, I've read a review of it by David Gibson at Beliefnet. Maybe I'll even go and see the movie (hey, Ewan McGregor and Stellan SkarsgÄrd are in it :) .... if so, I'll post a bit on my own opinion too.

- Ayelet Zurer and Tom Hanks

Here's some of David's review, Angels & Demons: Read all about it right here. It's long and I hate to chop it up, so please read the whole thing if you have time, but here are a few bits of it .....


So here's the good news: It is safe to go see "Angels & Demons." I didn't think the novel of the same name was especially anti-Catholic, but director Ron Howard was apparently stung by reactions to "The Da Vinci Code" adaptation and so scrubbed any Jack Chick traces from the screenplay, as well as a lot of the other absurd plot points that made the novel so terribly good .....

What is worth seeing are the awesome CGI images of Saint Peter's Basilica and the Square, which are front and center as the film opens with shots of a pope's funeral--clearly inspired by the outpouring for John Paul II. If you didn't make it to Rome for that funeral (and that would have put you in a minority of the world's Catholics, I think), the movie will give you a sense of it .... Admittedly, some of the other mock-ups are appalling, such as Bernini's Saint Teresa in Ecstasy in the Church of Santa Maria della Vittoria .....

What of the Illuminati, the secret society that turns out to have been behind the death of the pope, and which is planning to destory the Vatican--and the conclave of cardinals meeting to elect a successor--using anti-matter stolen that day from CERN?! Donohue and others fulminate that in fact the Illuminati, a fraternity of freethinkers that existed for a few years in the late 1700s before being disbanded by the emperor, do not exist. But they really don't exist--either in the novel or in the film. They Illuminati are a school of red herrings, or actually one red herring, whose identity will be revealed shortly .....

The Big Reveal, however, is the same as in the book: There is no secret society, just a rogue priest, the Camerlengo, or Chamberlain, played by Ewan McGregor, who brought far more priestly charm to his role as the Jedi knight (and pseudo-Jesuit) Obi-Wan Kenobi. Okay, that a priest would be the Camerlengo is funny. But that's the end of the laughs. This Camerlengo turns out to be the bad guy, a raving right-wing nut case who has turned on his father-figure, the deceased pope, because he feels got too cozy with modern science. Hence the plot to use science to destroy a church (St. Peter's, in particular) that must be entirely rebuilt, with himself as pope.

Lots of people--and a few cardinals--die gruesome deaths, as they plot ticks off the requisite scenes until the mask drops and Langdon saves all. There is reconciliation between Science and Church, Langdon and the cardinals .....

But what may really make the likes of Bill Donohue and the evangelical movie maven Ted Baehr mad is that the bad guy turns out to be a right-wing raver who castigates the dead pope and the cardinals and the rest for going soft, for allowing the modern world to take over. Sound familiar?

In effect, the film is respectful of the Catholic tradition of faith and reason, and the Catholic tradition of rejecting fanaticism in favor of careful discernment. The system of celibate old men with their sexist, dogmatic blinders turns out to be the best one, at least in this movie ....


Another review you might want to check out is Roger Ebert's. He gave it three stars.


Blogger victor said...

I don't know if I'll ever see this movie although if I do, it would be for the fun of "IT" only.

Our Heavenly Father knows our beginning and our end although He let's our heart choose between good and evil as we see it and the way we balance ourselves is left entirely to our way of thinking but He did teach us what is right and/or wrong.

I hear ya! Do you think any alien gods would want this world of ours?

You mean they don't own "IT" already? = )

4:19 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Victor,

Yeah, I don't know if I'll end up seeing it either. Maybe rent it later.

8:58 PM  

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