July 20, 2009

M-M-Multibonus Flick: Angels and Demons

*Warning: This blog may contain spoilers, like how Ewan McGregor kills the pope and tries to nuke the Vatican. For Christ. Also, Bruce Willis is a ghost.*

Due to the fact that Harry Potter is thoroughly dominating the theaters until early August like some sort of posturing basketball player, I am left with no midnight movies of any repute to snark mercilessly. Hence, I have to resort to a back log of second release theaters in order to fulfill my bottomless hunger for late-night celluloid without resorting to banging fat chicks at 3am. And when I say there is nothing coming out this week, I really mean it. There is a b-rate children's flick called "G-force" coming out on Friday that involves high-tech guinea pigs saving the world, and a rather creepy b-film called "Orphan," which appears to capitalize on the whole "young girls dressed like 19th century china dolls are EVIL" phenomenon, which is itself such an overused trope that it makes the cop-on-his-last-day-before-retirement thing look positively postmodern. Needless to say, neither will have a midnight release.

So last night I watched Angels and Demons, the sequel to the hit film The DaVinci Code starring Forest Gump as Professor Robert Langdon. Having never read the book, I assumed it would involve some sort of race through a European city in order to save the world, filled with hot chicks and faceless guys in black suits, because my assumption is that only James Bond style stories can happen in Europe. Needless to say, I fuckin' called it.

The film starts out with Forest Gump being flown express to Cita Del Vaticano (not to be confused with Cita Del Taco, the only Vatican City fast food joint), where apparently everyone speaks English, in order to help hunt down a killer scientist with an ancient grudge against the Catholic Church. To help him is a young hot scientist with a PhD in OMNISCIENCE, which, if you didn't already guess, is the study of everything remotely related to the plot. For her, this includes internal medicine, pharmacology, classical languages, particle physics, neoclassical art history, and several other obscure and esoteric disciplines. She suffers heavily from the rare adult version of Wesley Crusher Syndrome, which, as we all no doubt are aware, may result in a high number of Twitter followers and/or a horrible, painful death.

It's particularly awesome when both happen, but don't get your hopes up.

Gump, on the other hand, being a lowly liberal arts professor instead of a grand professor of SCIENCE, seems to have only limited knowledge of what's going on or even where he is. The character can't read Latin or Italian, knows nothing about antimatter, can't fight or hide, and who's professional experience is limited to looking at statues with arrows on them. My guess is that the director didn't want Mr. Gump to look like Indiana Jones, who is annoyingly fluent in every language ever farted out of the ass of an illiterate peasant before the birth of Christ. As a result, Dr. Langdon can't seem to speak anything except "southern" and feels like at any minute he's going to burst into a round of "Symbology is like a box of chocolates."

Speaking of symbology, this I think Williem Dafoe did it better:

But that's just my opinion.

You'll recognize the director, by the way. Angels and Demons is a Ron Howard movie, who is best described as the Michael Bay of the midbudget thriller set. He is an expert at milking horrible performances from fantastic actors, and a big fan of panning over still objects in the foreground as if he were directing some sort of Vatican slasher flick (IN 3D!) in such a way that you expect the boom guy to pop out from the side of the screen and start stabbing somebody with the rusted handle of his sound equipment. Preferably Ron Howard. I'll leave you with a video of Ron Howard at the end, just to show you how pimp this guy really is. Also the video has Samuel L. Jackson, who will get you drunk.

The plot of the film is basically the "get thee to a nunnery" version of 24. There's a ticking bomb somewhere, a bunch of cops with the fighting skills of inept Bond minions, and even though there are only a few hours before nuke-o'clock, everyone is still researching and praying! The story gets tedious after a while, when it becomes clear that all the victims will inevitably die in ways best described as the catholic guilt versions of Hostel, and that the real villains are obviously not Illuminati but rather (yawn) members of the church itself.

Ewan McGregor gives us the most annoying performance, especially because I thought the "they can take our lives, but they can never take our FREEDOM!" school of inspirational speeches had died along with Stanley Kubrick and Windows 98. In the end McGregor's character is ostensibly evil, which is odd because he leads the heroes to some of the best clues. Also, apparently the filmmakers don't realize that a bomb exploding in the air above a target (called an air-burst) is much more deadly than a bomb exploding in a cave under it, and for all intents and purposes antimatter is a scientifically inaccurate version of a nuke and should wipe out everything forever no matter what you do to it.

All in all, Angels and Demons was very pretty and well worth a watch. For all that I might say against it, it DID have a plot, and it DID have strong, believable characters.

And Ron Howard.

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