Reviewed by: Rev. Bryan Griem
This film follows: The Da Vinci Code (2006)
HYPOCRISY IN THE CHURCH—“I would never be a Christian; they’re a bunch of hypocrites.” Answer
SCIENCE—How is it possible for reasonable, intelligent, well-educated people to hold such diametrically opposite views as Evolutionism and Creationism? Answer
What else does the Bible teach about angels? Answer
Demons in the Bible
Is THE DA VINCI CODE “the most serious assault against Christianity”? Answer
Was Jesus Christ only a legend? Answer
Is Jesus Christ a man, or is he God? Answer
If Jesus is God, how could he die? If Jesus died on the cross, then how can he be alive today? Answer
Was Jesus Christ God, manifest in human form? Answer
Is Jesus Christ really God? Answer
Has science disproved the miracles associated with Jesus Christ? Answer
What is “blasphemy”? Answer
How do we know the Bible is true? Answer
How can the Bible be infallible if it was written by fallible humans? AnswerAnswers to frequently-asked-questions
VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer
|Featuring:||Tom Hanks … Robert Langdon
Ewan McGregor … Camerlengo Patrick McKenna
Ayelet Zurer … Vittoria Vetra
Stellan Skarsgård … Commander Richter
|Producer:||Columbia Pictures, Imagine Entertainment, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Sony, Dan Brown, John Calley, William M. Connor, Brian Grazer, Todd Hallowell, Ron Howard, Ute Leonhardt, Kathleen McGill, Louisa Velis|
|Distributor:||Sony Pictures Releasing|
One wonders exactly to what or to whom the movie title “Angels & Demons” refer. Does it mean to convey that these heavenly opposites are one-in-the-same, or does it mean to emphasize the specific foes at two ends of the spectrum? It could be argued that both are meant, as there are actually multiple stories rolled into one here.
On the one hand, there is the untimely death of a Pope, for which the Vatican is earnestly seeking a replacement. All of its focus is directed toward that end, until something messes up the works and stalls the proceedings. Enter our old friend, Professor Langdon (Tom Hanks), from the previous blasphemous installment of Dan Brown’s novels-made-movies, “The DaVinci Code.” In “Angels & Demons,” the Vatican calls upon their agnostic nemesis for his unparalleled expertise as a symbologist to solve an immediate problem that may destroy their city.
And what does Langdon know that may be of help? He knows everything about the Illuminati—a group that Brown would have us think is ubiquitous in its influence, and which was born as a reaction of smart people against ignorant Christianity. The fact is, the Illuminati are more alive in the minds of conspiracy theorists like Brown than in current or even past reality. The movie presents them as being the greatest members among the scientifically enlightened, and because the Church supposedly opposes scientific inquiry, the Illuminati have plotted to finally eliminate the superstitious super-Institution, in our day, with the latest discovery of scientific technology: anti-matter.
So, on the other end of the story is science. Particle physicists develop an amazing energy source that could potentially become a beast with tremendous destructive force, if it were to fall into the wrong hands, which is what happens. Though it’s held in a lab, to which access is protected by retinal scan technology, the worst is realized as access is easily overridden by the forces of anarchy who utilize a murdered man’s eyeball as a key.
The question is, are the forces angels or demons? As for religion, does it really oppose and contravene research and learning? Are religion and science at odds? That is the question, and the Church takes a beating as the all time quasher of enlightened advancement. Is it, in actuality, a bastion of spiritual pretense with all the political motives of Hell, or is it a cautious friend of knowledge? Are religion and science necessarily enemies, and if so, which is the angel and which is the demon? In the end, will science destroy the church or save it? This is what we finally find out.
One of the interesting elements of the movie is the character of the Vatican’s Camerlengo (sort of an emergency Pope-sub) played by Ewan McGregor of “Star Wars” fame. He played the religious defender that exposed Darth Vader in that series, and the twist in Angels is the revelation of a “Dark Father” in the Vatican. What is bothersome about the movie, is that Langdon is too smart. He’s always sharper than the police and more educated in the church’s laws than the priests, bishops and cardinals. His skeptical intelligence and superior knowledge of arcane history lead the story. Langdon seems to be the altar-ego of Brown, who thinks that everything the church believes is suspect, at best, and diabolical, at worst (it oppresses truth, disseminates ignorance, and causes problems for civilized man).
While it is the case that the Roman Catholic Church is perpetually singled out as the bad guy, it seems more representative of all things Christian, thereby including all people of faith in the film’s denunciations. While “The DaVinci Code” was a worse offender by pretending to destroy the Christian church’s foundation, “Angels & Demons” seems to make the Catholic Church itself a place of discord, confusion, backward beliefs, violent zealots, and deceptive policies. Some Protestants may agree with this assessment, but again, Brown wouldn’t know a Catholic from a Quaker, so I believe organized Christianity in general is under attack.
The Roman Catholic Church divided during the Reformation, so that Protestants do not identify with much, if anything, after the Council of Trent. But everything before then, we all share in common, and if it is claimed that the “catholic church” did evil prior to that time, then it was to everyone’s shame. Likewise, we all share in the glories of the historic catholic (universal) church up to that time.
Thinking Christians will likely feel encouraged to know more about such charges in the movie and how to answer them. This is typically a positive result of religious exposé, be it fictional or real. Persecution nearly always strengthens us.
The movie is not uninteresting, it’s fairly fast-paced and visually impressive, but it is rather far-fetched, and as expressed, irritating to people of faith. There is a positive element to the film, in that some of the religious characters actually come off looking spiritually wise. However, amidst all the intrigue and shenanigans at the top, as well as apathy, the perception is that it’s a rarity, and the really sharp folks are not religious.
As for objectionable peripherals, the bad language is milder and less frequent than a lot of movies with the same rating. “God” & “Hell” do get uttered several times in exasperation, as does the use of the term for a fatherless offspring. These are not especially exaggerated, so they may escape the viewer’s notice, at times.
There’s nothing sexually explicit in the film, unless the sight of bare-chested men, or seeing professor Langdon in a Speedo, counts. There is a discussion about the nude statues in Rome that supposedly had their genitals removed and replaced with fig leaves, but then you see the fig leaves, and that’s about it.
Smoking is not seen as unusual, and is especially typical among clergy in the film. The violence in the movie proliferates. Of note: there is an immolation, a modernized burning at the stake, many people shot to death at close range, a throat cut, several people are branded with glowing hot irons, a dead man is exhumed, corpses are being eaten by rats, people are hit by debris after an explosion, blood sprays out of the chest of a CPR subject, and other less graphic, but still violent scenes could be noted.
If the viewer is of strong constitution, perhaps this movie should be seen for its cultural value, and received as a catalyst for more diligent study of church and the Bible. What “Angels & Demons” can do for us is direct our defense against the destructive onslaught of anti-Christian opinion that may develop in the minds of our lost population of movie-goers. Ignorance will kill us, and one thing to remember is that religion and science are not mortal enemies. Today’s science stands on the shoulders of scientists past, and most of them were churchmen who believed in God.
In one of the final comments of the movie, the Camerlengo explains to our protagonist, “The church is flawed, but that is because man is flawed.” His comment could not be truer, and that’s why it also applies to the scientific community. Christ came for just this very thing, to save flawed and fallen man.
Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: None
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.