May 14, 2009, - 1:28 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
**** WARNING: There are a number of spoilers in this review of the movie, “Angels & Demons.” If you don’t want to know these spoilers and the ending of the movie, don’t read any further than the first three paragraphs of this review. ****
As readers know (and as I’ve noted on this site), my biggest objection to the movie, “Angels & Demons“–which opens tonight in theaters at Midnight–is that director Ron Howard changed the identity of the assassin in the movie from Muslim to “Danish.”
After seeing the movie, full of scenes in which “the preferiti”–high ranking Vatican priests with the best shot of becoming Pope–are tortured and slaughtered to death in various explicitly gruesome ways, I can see why it was so important for this character to remain a Muslim in the movie, as he was in the book. And why Ron Howard, a PC liberal, was so eager for a Muslim not to be portrayed doing such horrid things that are carried out by the minute throughout the “Danish” Middle-East.
After all the most nearly successful modern attempt on a Pope’s life was committed by Mehmet Ali Agca . . . clearly, a Danish name. And we don’t want Catholics seeing a Muslim carrying out such hideous tortures and murders of priests because, after all, the “Religion of Peace” would never ever do such a thing and never has throughout it’s history over the centuries. In fact, Director Ron Howard and scriptwriter Akiva Goldsman went out of their way to have this non-descript, non-Muslim assassin utter lines about how the Jewish G-d, allah, and the Christian G-d are all the same and all murderous. Yup, love that anti-religious moral equivalency lumping us Judeo-Christians with the religion of Greater BarbArabia.
**** SPOILERS BEGIN HERE ****
That said, for the first two hours and five minutes of the two-hour, twenty-minute “Angels & Demons,” I thought, “WOW, this is a great movie, and very pro=Catholic, too.” But, then, when the heroic Irish Catholic priest who is the adopted son and personal assistant to the Pope suddenly becomes not the young moral superman and hero we thought, but instead a crazed murdering, torturing monster, the movie lost me. The movie lost me, especially because the reason the padre did this was because he was against science. Pure propaganda.
Even though I’m no Catholic–I’m a Jew–I am pro-life and against embryonic stem cell research, just like the Vatican. Does this mean I am “against science”? Does this mean that my religious leaders would set of a chain reaction of torturous murders of top clerics and try to blow up an entire major city . . . all just to fight science? Are those of us who are conservative on social issues and don’t want the “brave new world” scenario–are we all monsters?
The movie slapped me with this message basically in the second to last scene of the movie. It was such a buzzkill. Until then, my only reservation, other than the Muslim whitewash, was the repeated scenes of priests being branded, tortured, and killed in disgusting ways. That was painful to watch, and I hope it doesn’t give nuts copycat ideas. “101 Ways to Torture and Kill a Priest” isn’t a video manual we needed (especially when, in the original “Angels & Demons” book, it’s more like, “101 Muslim Ways to Torture and Kill a Priest”).
And that’s sad, because until then, I loved this movie. It was fun, exciting, suspenseful and thrilling (if kinda gruesome). The special effects are fantastic, the scenes of Rome and the statues inside old churches–most of which are likely Hollywood sets and computer generated images–were stunning. I found it extremely entertaining and enjoyable.
The story: The Pope has just died, and a new one must be chosen by Vatican Cardinals. Symbologist Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is invited by the Vatican to help in a desperate crisis. Someone has kidnapped four “preferiti” (Cardinals favored to become the next Pope). That same person assassinated a priest working at a supercollider and stole a dangerous vial of “anti-matter,” which could blow up a major city.
The kidnapper threatens to murder one of them each hour for four hours. At the end of the day–at Midnight–the killer will let the anti-matter explode all of Vatican City and parts of Rome. The kidnapper has identified himself as part of the Illuminati, a mysterious ancient society of scientists at war with the Catholic Church.
Dr. Langdon, with his knowledge of symbols and ancient societies like the Illuminati, is brought in to try to decipher hints of where the preferiti are being held. Also there is a female scientist who headed up the supercollider anti-matter project. They work with the Vatican City’s Swiss Guard and the help of the late Pope’s adopted son/personal assistant, a young Irish Catholic priest. It is a race against time to find the priests before they are murdered one by one and then everyone is blown to kingdom come.
I didn’t find this movie to be anti-Catholic. If anything–despite the murderous, anti-science, young Priest (which was definitely objectionable, not to mention preposterous)–the movie is endearing to the Catholic Church and far better than “The Da Vinci Code.” The Church and its traditions is contrasted with the absolute pronounced agnostic and nearly-atheist bent of Robert Langdon, whom you can tell must have a tiny shred of belief somewhere under all of his elitist Harvard scientist armor.
Yes, overall, it is a positive portrayal of the Catholic Church, including the very end. But it is not a positive portrayal of those of us who are morally conservative and have ethical dilemmas with brave new world technologies–a core position of the Church. We are not against science. In fact, many of us, like me, embrace science, which has made our lives easier and helped us to develop cures and better treatments for diseases, etc.
But that doesn’t mean we have to embrace science’s extremes. Nor that we have to accept this otherwise great movie’s portrayal of us as extremists.
TWO REAGANS (Would have been THREE, but One Reagan Deducted for Muslim Whitewashing in Script and Phony Anti-Science Extremism)