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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Barking Up the Wrong Tree

Angels & Demons (2009) on IMDb

Plot Overview

good shepherdUpon the sudden death of Pope Pius XVI, the College of Cardinals meets in conclave to select a new Vicar of Christ. Terrorists claiming to represent the ancient enemy of Rome, the Illuminati, have stolen a vial of anti­matter from CERN Laboratory's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva, Switzerland. Their plan is to execute the four preferitti—candidates for pope—one by one, and then ignite a ball of light to destroy the Vatican. It's retribution for their past persecution known as la purga.

glassCamerengo Patrick McKenna (Ewan McGregor,) the former pope's chamberlain, wants to evacuate the city. Rather than give the Illuminati this victorious optic, Cardinal Strauss (Armin Mueller-Stahl,) the Great Elector, decrees business as usual in the Vatican while they enlist the aid of a Professor of Semiotics—in lay terms a “symbologist”—Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) from Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. to follow symbolic clues to save the cardinals and unearth the Illuminati's crypt. He is aided by the gendarmerie, the carabinieri, the Swiss Guard, the Archivio Vaticanus, a bio­entangle­ment physicist Vittoria Vetra (Ayelet Zurer,) and his own prodigious memory & erudition. He's in a race against time to avert “a cataclysmic event.”


This plot reaches back into the past.

The Illuminati did not become violent until the 17th Century. Their name means “The Enlightened Ones.” They were physicists and mathematicians, astronomers. They were concerned with the Church's inaccurate teaching and they were dedicated to scientific truth. But the Vatican didn't like that. So the Church began to ... how did you say it? Oh, “Hunt them down and kill them. Drove them under­ground into a secret society.”

1668, the Church kidnapped four Illuminati scientists and branded each one of them on the chest with the symbol of the cross ... to purge them of their sins, and they executed them. Threw their bodies out into the street as a warning to others to stop questioning Church ruling on scientific matters. They radicalized them. The Purga created a darker, more violent Illuminati, one bent on ... on retribution.

The lesson here, as far as the Bible is concerned, is found in: (Prov. 30:33) “Surely the churning of milk bringeth forth butter, and the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood: so the forcing of wrath bringeth forth strife.” You take milk that's in a liquid form and start churning it, around and around, and it changes into a solid, butter. In this movie the metaphor is the Large Hadron Collider having a long tubular centrifuge in which matter is, particles are, accelerated round and round in a giant circle to collide with other particles at 99% the speed of light, and voilà, “We have anti­matter,” matter in a different state and “on a scale never seen before.” The application here is to the Illuminati, “the Enlightened Ones,” who were a bunch of mousy academics with their noses in books and their hands on experiments. Then the Church stirred them up by persecuting them and they became radicalized, “threatening us all with destruction at the hands of their new god, science.”

religious orderThe concurrent metaphor is, “as the wringing of the nose bringeth forth blood.” Wring any other part of a person's body, he can shrug it off. Wring his nose, it bleeds. In this movie an assassin on a mission (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) wrenches the eye­ball out of an LHC scientist to use in a retina scanner to gain access to the secure room in which is stored the harvested anti­matter in miniature magnetic mansions. And wouldn't you know it, that eye­ball bled onto the chin rest by the access pad. Similarly, there's a lot of conflicting science the church can just shrug off. Then scientists start making anti­matter that's “never been generated in significant quantities before. It's a way to try to under­stand the universe, to try to isolate what some people call the God particle. … What we call it isn't important. It's what gives all matter mass. With­out it we couldn't exist.” This can be construed as an act of creation, a sacrilege to some men of the cloth.

Production Values

” (2009) was directed by Ron Howard. It was adapted into a screen­play by David Koepp and Akiva Goldsman from the novel, Angels & Demons by Dan Brown. It stars Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellan Skarsgård, Cosimo Fusco and Nikoaj Lie Kaas. Tom Hanks embodies the unflap­pable academic. Ewan McGregor seemed to be a fish out of water, miscast in a tough role. The rest of the clerics gave strong per­formances, but Armin Mueller-Stahl did look like he should retire soon or some­thing. Lie Kaas played a troubled assassin who wore his heart on his sleeve yet never managed to make us feel sympathetic to his actions.

MPAA rated it PG–13 for sequences of violence, disturbing images and thematic material. Hans Zimmer's music score filled out the back­ground sound of the film with­out being intrusive. The locations looked overly busy on my small screen but would probably seem about right on the big screen. Action scenes were creatively scattered through­out the film.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

If you are at all of a religious bent, your enjoyment of A&D could well depend on how you process the so-called “God particle” the scientists talk about. Bear in mind the provenance of this film is from the creative imagination of Dan Brown who is not above using fake news whether historical or scientific. Meta­physician Mark Fiorentino writes of this God particle:

Physicists [fudged] when they looked for the Higgs Boson. They continued doing experiments at different energy levels until they found some­thing they could call the Higgs Boson. It was so hard to find that they had to increase the luminosity or number of inter­actions until they could find the particle. The experimenters kept redoing the experiment at different energy levels with increased luminosity until they found what they were looking for. Most people do not realize that they never actually saw the Higgs Boson. What they saw was the decay of some­thing that did not live long enough to get to the detector. The thing they are calling the Higgs Boson has a life­time of less than one sextillionth of a second. It seems to me that there should be some criteria or life-time limit to what qualifies as a particle. If a particle does not live long enough to be viewed, how do we really know it existed at all? Even if it did exist for a very brief moment, does this new particle really play a meaning­ful role in the over­all universal scheme or is it nothing more than an insignificant speck of matter thrust into existence by a man-made particle collision. (142–3)

Lecturer on the Bible Steve Gregg notes that, “Time Magazine ran a cover story on the Bible (December 30, 1974), in which the journalist, with surprising honesty, wrote: ‘After more than two centuries of facing the heaviest scientific guns that could be brought to bear, the Bible has survived—and is perhaps the better for the siege’” (xiv).

As long as you can avoid getting your knickers in a twist over an assault on religion from science, this could be a very enjoy­able Sci–Fi flick with a modicum of action thrown in. I'd have appreciated it better seeing it fill the big screen, but I was too late to catch it in theaters. Do know what to expect.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Well done action flick. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years with guidance. Special effects: Absolutely amazing special effects. Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day. Overall movie rating: Three stars out of five. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Works Cited

Scripture quotation from the Authorized King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Fiorentino, Mark. Master of Reality. Copyright © 2020 Mark Fiorentino. Coppell, TX: Superrelative@gmail.com 2020. Print.

Gregg, Steve. Empire of the Risen Son. © 2020 by Steve Gregg. Maitland, FL: Xulon Press, 2020. Print.