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This week:
Angels and Demons

Filthy says:
"Somebody shovel this horseshit back into the steeds, pronto!"

I wonder how many horses they used making Angels and Demons? It had to be a lot and they all must have been sick considering what a massive load of horseshit it delivers. What an overblown disaster of a movie. Although, I guess it's not a disaster because that would mean something went wrong. Every indication is that hammy, overwrought bastard Ron Howard wanted it to be a massive load from a steed's ass. After all, he clearly spent a lot of money on scenery and twice as much on an excitable choir to squeal in the background. Seriously, the score is like 140 minutes of the background music for the trailer of an overblown vampire movie.

In fact, the only people who get excited by anything in Angels and Demons are the musicians. Subtract them from the movie and it has the pace and drama of an article about homemade bread from AARP magazine, and the coherence and intrigue of an old man with dementia explaining Croatian currency.

In this adaptation of hack novelist Dan Brown's craptacular novel, Angels and Demons, Tom Hanks plays a professor from Harvard who studies shit that serious college professor leave to callers on Coast to Coast. The course he teaches at Harvard is called "A bunch of make-believe conspiracy nonsense about secret societies and hidden symbols, you know, the sort of shit that idle minds concoct because they'd rather believe the most implausible bullshit than accept that humans don't work well enough together to keep secrets for centuries 101". Of course, he teaches at Harvard, which is shitty writer shorthand for, "He's really smart but I'm not clever enough to show that." When we first meet Hanks, he's swimming in a pool clearly constructed by Harvard or MIT physicists, because it gives the optical illusion that the dude is not a porky, jowly mass of middle-age blah. Those physicists do not help Hanks in the rest of the movie. He relies on tailored clothes to hide all they can. A cop from the Vatican interrupts Hanks' magic swim to haul him to Rome to help the incompetent and scowling Vatican Police and Swiss Guard.

Why those police need him is ridiculous. They are apparently a band of do-nothing boobs who can't figure out a Goddamn thing without a tubby, American conspiracy theorist dragging them around by the nose. The Pope has just died and the College of Cardinals in convening to elect a new pope. Preceding the election, there is a bathing suit competition, the interview portion and--my favorite part--the evening cassocks modeling. Oo la la. The problem is, though, that the four hottest-looking Cardinals have been kidnapped by the Illuminati. You know what the Illuminati is? It's the word that, when you hear it spoken in a somber tone, you run as fast your feet will go in the other direction because the person who said it is a certified nutjob who probably won't shut the fuck up once he starts. According to Harvard professor Tom Hanks, they are a secret society of scientists who want to destroy the church for its anti-science stance. I have a question: if the Catholic church is so anti-science, why did I get an F in Biology at Blessed Sacrament for not studying? Wouldn't Sister Frances give me an A for passing out during worm dissection? And if the Illuminati were so powerful, why wouldn't they kill anyone involved in such a blatantly science-ignorant project as this?

The Illuminati have also stolen "something called anti-matter" from a particle accelerator in Switzerland. "Something" is how the "biophysicist" played with disinterest by middle-aged, vaguely accented Ms. Ayelet Zurer describes it. I'm not a biophysicist, but wouldn't anti-matter be the opposite of "something." Something is always matter, right? I wonder why the hell a writer wouldn't bother to do just a little research so the biophysicist wouldn't have to call her supposed lide's work "something". Zurer is vaguely attractive enough, and old enough, to imply that she and Hanks may be romantically linked later. The movie doesn't have time for that, or for anything resembling human interaction. Everyone is too busy spouting exposition.

Angels and Demons's Illuminati threaten to kill the kidnapped Cardinals and then blow up the Vatican with the anti-matter they've stolen. They's kill one Cardinal every hour at a different church in Rome, starting at eight, leading up to the anti-matter bomb at midnight. There is some goofy ancient riddle proposed by Galileo that the Illuminati will use to determine where the Cardinals will be killed. Why? Who the fuck knows. Maybe Ron Howard and Dan Brown think they do, but they're idiots. At least it gives Hanks something to do.

I don't want to spoil the surprises for anyone. I'm kidding; I very much want to spoil them for any jackass who is delighted by surprises as shitty as this movie's. I would also love to have you in my family, because Christmas gift-giving would be cheap. I could wrap up some goat balls and vials of urine and you'd be thrilled. "I wasn't expecting these!" Ron Howard and Dan Brown think we will be delighted by any surprise, no matter how impossible, non-sequitur and utterly nonsensical it is.

The surprise is that only one guy has kidnapped all four Cardinals, and produced all the mayhem of the evening, under the direction of someone inside the Vatican. It takes the people inside the Vatican way longer than the audience to figure out it's an inside job. Not because they are stupid in Vatican City, but because Ron Howard and Dan Brown are. This lone gunman is a talented young man. Like everyone else in the flick, he has no personality, distinguishing features, good lines of dialog or motivation.

Of course, Hanks solves the riddle that the local, doofus gendarmes can't. Slowly. He's sort of fat and jowly and restricted by his fat-hiding clothes, so he mostly walks from place to place while the choir yelps with nervousness in the background. Hanks doesn't even get to the first three churches until after the Cardinals have been murdered. Boy, talk about exciting! Nothing like rushing to the scene of a crime after it's already happened. And nothing more entertaining than seeing old dudes in vespers bleeding all over the place.

Meanwhile, the conclave of the undead Cardinals continues and the dead Pope's right hand man, played with grave bemusement by an oily-haired Ewan McGregor, pretends to help Hanks to such a degree that I could only assume (and rightly) that he's not as innocent as he acts. Neither was the old caretaker in every episode of Scooby Doo ever written. To be fair, though, Scooby Doo usually made some sense.

Hanks is joined for no good reason by "biophysicist" Zurer but usually not by the police during his brisk strolls around Italy. No chemistry develops between them. No chemistry develops among anyone. No character grows or changes. They all simply go from scenic, gothic Catholic landmark to scenic, gothic Catholic landmark place hoping that a few creepy old statues will impart a sense of tension that script doesn't. The dialog spoken over the galloping choir and turgid orchestra is mostly explanations of made-up religious texts or silly conspiracy nonsense. Some of the explanations are given twice just in case we forgot what the Camelengo's job is, or what happens if the battery suspending the anti-matter dies.

While the audience is given reams of make-believe facts to pretend to care about, many of the characters make leaps of assumption that would win Bob Beamon another gold medal. Hanks' journey is profoundly boring because it's so absurd and improbable that no audience can ever question his choices. He chooses, moves on to the next clue, where he chooses and moves on again. It's like riding with someone on a scavenger hunt without ever getting to see the list he's working off of.

Every element of the plot is arbitrary, including the timing of killings, the hokey mythology and what the characters know and don't, the rules applied to the Cardinals that are rigid one moment and ignored the next. How the fuck does a biophysicist know what an overinjected prescription drug may do? How does Hanks always manage to stand the exact spots he needs to when the clue is to a much larger area? Only Ron Howard and his shitty writers know, and they don't ever even wink at the silliness. They just keep increasing the volume of the music to remind us that all this hoakum may be causing some excitement for someone, somewhere.

The movie nearly ends when a priest grabs the ticking time-bomb anti-matter, hijacks a helicopter and flies up into space so it can blow up without hurting anyone. There are numerous retarded plot twists that lead up to that asinine scene (here's a clue, though: McGregor conveniently mentions that he was trained as a military helicopter pilot). Afterward, the priest leaps from the copter before it explodes and parachutes into a crowded St. Peter's Square to be greeted by throngs of Catholics.

I wish that parachuting priest were the end, but it's not. The movie keeps plodding on at its walking pace. The College of Cardinals are so moved by McGregor's feat of derring-do that they want to ignore protocol and rules and pass over the Cardinals to elect McGregor the next Pope. He would be the first priest to spend as much on Pomade as bread to turn into flesh. That's the plan, anyway, until--switcheroo!--they learn that McGregor was behind all the mayhem from the beginning. No shit. Well, he wasn't alone; he did hire a single fellow with a minivan to pretend to be the entire Illuminati and kill all those Cardinals right under the noses of the incompetent coppers. Boy, are those Cardinals pissed off.

Somehow, the makers of this movie want us to believe this movie is a timely ad insightful commentary on the battle between Church and Science. But I don't see how that can be when it is so fucking duderheaded about both. It was made by people who understand neither and are inclined to make shit up.

I don't know how anyone could spend so much time and money on something that makes so little sense. But Ron Howard and Dan Brown did. And it sucks ass. It just plain is a horrible, shitty, insultingly bland and stupid movie. You have to be willing to suspend not only disbelief but ht every function of your brain to not be overwhelmed by the bad dialog, stupid plot and self-serious silliness of Angels and Demons. One Finger. There's more logic and intrigue in a Sunday Mass, and those things suck.

Want to tell Filthy Something?



Beloved Pete Hammond of Hollywood.com

Angels and Demons is "Perfect summer entertainment, Tom Hanks and director Ron Howard have topped The DaVinci Code in every way imaginable!"

Wow! Topping The Da Vinci Code. You'd practically have to have a pulseto do that.

Filthy's Reading
Harvey Pekar - Another Dollar

Listening to
Supercharger- Supercharger