Friday, May 15, 2009

Angels and Demons

Angels and Demons within Us All

This was the most wild and crazy thing I've done in ages -- going to a midnight movie showing.  I had to be at the theater by 11:45 and I wanted to be a few minutes early for once.  Early in the evening I was lucky to get to watch The Da Vinci Code on the SciFi channel.  I almost missed the midnight movie, though, because I took a nap at 10 PM, setting my cell phone's alarm to 10:55.  Instead, I woke up startled at 11:20.  I do not know how I knew that I was late, but I jumped out of bed even before I looked at the clock.

As I approached the left turn off 9th Street to the parking garage, it looked like emergency vehicles blocked the entrance, so I kept going.  All the streets to that area were blocked, so I had to continue about four blocks before I could turn left and circle back around.  I started to panic that I wasn't going to find parking soon enough or close enough to get my ticket, but I was surprised when I found myself passing the rear entrance of the parking garage and even more surprised to find the lower level almost empty.  I even had a few minutes to spare.

Dave! Diamond met me outside the theater and told me to just go to Customer Service, but I stuck around and talked with him and Tom Killian, the
recently retired CHP Commander for our area.  The mercury should top 100 this weekend, so standing outside wearing a t-shirt was strangely comfortable, even though I've had a mild fever the last couple of days.  Dave! seems real, open, and down-to-earth.  Tom was more guarded.  Still, it was pretty cool; and in my estimation, it was also the main event.

My alarm went off on the way into the theater at 11:55.  That's when I figured out why it had not wakened me.  I had set the alarm to
11:00 and then, setting the minutes back to :55, had forgotten that this made the time 11:55, not 10:55.  Duh!

They gave out T-shirts before the movie, but I had underestimated the crowd and gone in too late, so the shirts in my size were all gone.  The seats were about two thirds full.  I found one right in the middle of the theater and did a little internal victory dance.

The movie started with great footage of what it purported to be CERN, a giant European facility for studying exotic, sub-atomic matter.  It didn't take long, however, for one glaring error to almost spoil the movie for me.  Tom Hanks' character defined anagram using the definition of palindrome, then compounded it by saying that illuminati met that definition!  I thought I was hearing things and was quite distracted from enjoying the movie until I heard it again several times, verifying that the idiocy was Ron "Pinko" Howard's and not mine.  OK, that might not bother most people, but it bugs the tar out of nerdy writers and rocket scientists.

Another clear goof happened when
a policeman's LASER sight (the red beam from a light that attaches to a gun to show the shooter where the bullet will hit) shone on the wall in front of and to his left, but his weapon pointed directly ahead.  I'm sure they did it for dramatic effect, but it distracted me.

The plot followed the traditional roller coaster of building and relaxing the level of suspense, had enough humor to add some variety, and had a great twist toward the end.  I disliked the way Hanks' character always had the right academic information to figure out every clue.  It reminded me of Adam West in the Batman TV series.  It also seemed incongruous that a prof who researched the sort of stuff that winds up in the Vatican Archives would never have learned Latin. 

Another inconsistency showed up when someone told me that in Dan Brown's book series, this plot takes place before The Da Vinci Code.  This confused me because, during the movie, Vatican officials made several references to Hanks' character's previous incident with the Church.  Maybe there's a prior book in the series, but I think the timeline would confuse thinking movie-goers.

The threat in this plot didn't go as far as the sacrilege in The Da Vinci Code.  In fact, while it drove home the point that the Roman Catholic Church commits as much error and harbors as much corruption as do the people who run it, the movie makes an appeal for cooperation between science and faith, even acknowledging that faith serves a vital role by checking runaway science.  The plot also allows that, despite the machinations of corrupt clergy, the system self-corrects.  That message might reassure Roman Catholics, but it flies in the face of centuries of history explained in the course of the movie because one not only cannot undo the evil done in God's name, but -- as any person of faith who has tried to profess their faith, for example, in a secular college dorm -- one cannot undo the damage to God's reputation.

The best music came during the credits.  Unlike most movies, Hans Zimmer stayed with the soundtrack instead of making an incongruous switch to pop or rap.  In fact, the music during the credits outshone that during the body of the movie.  Perhaps I had not noticed the music through all the action and foley, but that's how it seemed.  The producers chose well with Zimmer.

Finally... I won!  I outlasted everybody except the projectionist and the two nice guards who escorted me through the darkened theater to the exit.

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