May 14, 2009, - 1:28 pm

My “Angels & Demons” Review . . . Or “101 Ways to Torture and Slay a Priest” *** SPOILER Alert ***

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.

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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)
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11 Responses

Opie Howard is a real coward, isn’t he? This is Hollywood crap. I wouldn’t waste my time or money.

lexi on May 14, 2009 at 2:48 pm

Anti-matter? They couldn’t think of anything more original? Geez. Every other episode of the original Star Trek was solved by a little bit of anit-matter. What a copout…

rbb on May 14, 2009 at 2:55 pm

looks interesting. I hated Davinci code, it was so dull. if they really wanted to kill the vatican, they should have used Ricin or anthrax ;)

mindy1 on May 14, 2009 at 3:30 pm

I keep thinking of the famous poem by Matthew Arnold about the conflict between reason and faith that I read as a child. Its a false one. Both need each other to make sense of our world and to strength our belief in G-d. Without reason, we descend into fanaticism and lack the ability to make sound judgments. Without faith, we’re blind and will never see the true essence of world in everything was created with a purpose and nothing in life is truly random or the mere result of fate. I think in retrospect, it would been a great movie if it had been a contrasting tableau of the two major ideas in the world between reason and faith bequeathed to us by Athens and Jerusalem through Rome and the mindless unquestioning fanaticism of Mecca. The clash between these two philosophies would have chilled and elevated those who’ve seen the movie – if only Howard and Goldsman had been courageous enough to depict it. And I’m sure if it had been that unflinchingly honest that Debbie might have given her review of “Demons and Angels” four Reagans instead.

NormanF on May 14, 2009 at 4:53 pm

Debbie,
When you say you’re against stem cell research, I think you mean you’re against embryonic stem cell research. This is especially meaningful since adult stem cells from, say, umbilical cord blood or side fat cells has been shown to be very useful as contrasts embryonic stem cells which have been shown to be a cropper, much like fetal tissue.
Embryonic cells may may have some use for damaged hearts, but they have been shown to have very little utility and are pretty much as waste of money: http://www.fumento.com/biotech/spinalcord.html
http://www.fumento.com/biotech/payoff.html
http://www.fumento.com/biotech/adultstemcells.html (adult stem cells still have utility)
[U: CORRECT. I'M AGAINST EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH. THANKS FOR POINTING THIS OUT. FIXED. DS]

Underzog on May 14, 2009 at 9:05 pm

Will someone please remind Dan Brown and Ron Howard that all of the major European and American universities were started by the church and run by priests? Will someone also remind Brown and Howard that Galileo, Newton, Keppler, Copernicus, Brahe, Mendeleev and most of the great scientists were Christians and trained at these universities? Will someone also remind Dan Brown that the first observatories, chemistry labs and medical disections were done at these universities by priests, monks and Christians?
So someone tell me, in the name of atheism or Darwinism, what has been discovered scientifically that will benefit humanity?
Where are all of these great cures coming from embryonic stem cells? Where is all of this green technology that will save the planet? Why is ethanol still more expensive than gasoline? Oh, that’s right, none of these are practical, or else the private sector would get in on it and not need government grants and subsidies to prop up these industries.
It makes me sick that just because we believe that life begins at conception, that humanity can’t destroy the planet with SUV’s and that we didn’t come from monkeys that means we don’t want progress. Christians believe that God created the world and He wants us to study it and learn about his laws.
I’m sick of science becoming a popularity contest in the media. I’m sick of Christians not learning about our history and being able to fight back intellectually. Thus, people are going to believe this garbage.
Sorry Debbie for getting riled up and taking up your space.
[I: WHY SHOULD YOU BE SORRY? THIS IS WHAT THE COMMENTS SECTION IS EXPRESSLY FOR. DS]

inmateprof on May 15, 2009 at 12:39 am

WHAT??? Debbie, why the disgust with Opie and his heavy-handed, neo-lib editing? Everyone knows that the Danes have been carrying out their “silent jihad” via getting we infidels to gorge on breakfast Danish. The idea is that we’ll all get obese and die off… Hey, it’s working!
And isn’t it common knowledge that Danish extremists must have everyone in the world convert to being Danish or be beheaded? Those wacky Danes!

ObamaSlammaJamma on May 15, 2009 at 1:02 am

I read the book which was fairly interesting then got so absurd and obviously written so that it would appeal to Hollywood. Spolier : When the priest jumped out of the helicopter and used his handkerchief as a parachute it turned into a Roadrunner cartoon. I have no intention to see this movie, especially since Ron Howard started to get so annoying.

Tempus Fugit on May 15, 2009 at 7:10 am

I applaud your ability to rationally critique any and all of the movies that come out…I feel somewhat better when I spend NO money to support the lifestyle of Opie or Tom Hanks…the hundreds of thousands that Hanks gave to nutjob Al Franken to run for the Senate alone will stop me from ever seeing this movie. But I do enjoy your reviews! Go girl!!!!

TarheelGirl77 on May 15, 2009 at 7:51 am

I like how you can’t leave a review without bitching about how it offended you as a fucking Jew. Get over it, kike.

Rorshach on May 17, 2009 at 2:03 am

Rorshach was the best character in Watchmen, you are so lame to use the name Rorshach to insult Debbie and the Jewish nation.
Your bigoted comment should get deleted unless Debbie wants to leave it up to show how stupid you are.

Yosef on August 12, 2009 at 11:42 pm

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