Angels and Demons: Review

Last night I saw the new Dan Brown movie, Angels and Demons, and I wanted to share just a couple thoughts with anyone who might be thinking of seeing it.

First off, I must say that this movie is about 6000 times better than The DaVinci Code movie. Now perhaps if I had read the book first (as I foolishly did for DaVinci) I might think differently, but this time I just enjoyed the movie. It is a good deal different than that other book/movie. First of all, the plot is not premised upon ideas that are an offense to the orthodox Christian faith (i.e. we must worship a goddess along with God, Jesus was married and his bloodline is still around, the Bible and orthodoxy were invented by the Emperor Constantine, etc.). Secondly, the movie is actually exciting.

The basic premise: someone - apparently an anti-Vatican secret society called the Illuminati, has stolen an anti-matter device and threatens to blow up the Vatican (think James Bond) only days after the pope suddenly and mysteriously died. Even as the Cardinals gather for conclave, several of the frontrunners for the papal job are kidnapped and will be put to death each hour by the mysterious Illuminati at hidden locations in Rome.

Fortunately, the famous symbolologist Professor Langdon is in town and he thinks he can find the hidden "churches" of the Illuminati in Rome. So he starts digging through the archives of the Vatican to find clues in manuscripts, art, and architecture that lead him from one secret Illuminati church to the next (think: National Treasure) in hopes of arriving in time to save the missing Cardinals from horrible deaths and the Vatican itself from being vaporised by the explosion of the anti-matter device!
There are some cool plot-twists (and some annoying plot holes) in this thriller in which you never really know whom you can trust (besides Tom Hanks, of course) - and just when you think you know who the good and the bad and the ugly are, the plot twists everything around.

How is it's portrayal of Christianity? Basically neutral, though there is a lot that could be construed as a negative assessment of Roman Catholicism in particular (political maneuvering among church prelates, embarrasing historical incidents are presented in simplistic form - i.e. Galileo). And the bad guy turns out to be a Catholic religious fanatic (go figure) - perhaps contributing to a general inarticulate distrust of "religion" in our culture. On the other hand, there are some positive clerical characters and some profoundly true and wise statements uttered from the mouths of clergymen (although some of them are called into question when we learn who the 'heavy' is).

The movie takes an admirable stab at presenting the message "faith and science do not have to be enemies, they can work together," but sadly does little more than make the assertion a couple times, rather than exploring what that might mean even a little bit (though that might be too much to expect from a movie). At any rate, it is an enjoyable movie that could function as a conversation starter on some of these issues.

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Anonymous Fr. Jason Vidrine said...

Good post, Daniel. I agree that it's a much more exciting movie than the Davinci Code. By and far, it's well done, though there are some inaccuracies in regard to some things. For example, the Pope doesn't have to be elected from the Cardinals, strictly speaking. It can be any lay Catholic male.

Those small inaccuracies aside though, I'd say the whole premise of the movie gets it backwards. The Catholic Church's long history shows that Faith and science do not contradict one another. The Church is not against science. It is the radical secularist progressives who pit science against Faith.

Here's a great review of the movie by Fr. Robert Barron:


11:02 AM, June 03, 2009  
Blogger Daniel McLain Hixon said...

I agree, Fr. Jason, that those who have a secularist worldview have a vested interest in pitting faith against reason/science in an attempt to sideline the role of faith in public life.

Unfortunately, they get plenty of help for uneducated and fundamentalist Christians who are ignorant of the vast intellectual treasures (and indeed, the various approaches to interpreting Genesis 1) that are available through the Great Tradition of the Ecumenical Church.

And, though it may just be my imagination, it feels as though the cookiest of Christians are those most likely to make the cable news.

12:39 PM, June 04, 2009  

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