Monday, May 25, 2009

Summer Blockbuster

It's a holiday, so we get to relax from legal posts.

This weekend marks the unofficial start of the summer season, so my girlfriend and I took in the summer blockbuster Angels and Demons. The verdict: don't bother.

(Caution: spoilers ahead. In fact this won't make sense if you haven't already seen the movie)

The fundamental problem is that the movie is absurd. Of course we suspend our disbelief for works of fiction, but we still expect some basic level of plausibility and motivation for what happens. Star Trek scored better on both counts.

Professor Langdon again deploys his exceptional gift for interpreting symbols to unravel an ancient mystery, this time the location of the Church of the Illuminati. But what on earth is going on? First, even though someone will be killed every hour and all of Vatican city blown up in four hours, he and his sidekick sleuth take many minutes to chat about history. Then suddenly they remember the time pressure and start doing far more than could possibly be done in the time allowed. Heck, it would take longer than they have just to tear around Rome each time. I won't complain about his getting every symbolic clue exactly right just in time, but I don't see how they could even beat the traffic back to the Vatican and out to a church again in the available time, not to mention taking up time to prowl around and smash things up in the archives. And it's too much to imagine that he later finds exactly the right spot on the videotape on the first try.

Why doesn't the assassin kill Langdon and Vittoria? He killed everyone else who posed any threat to him.

And are we really to believe that the nefarious Carmelengo dreamed up a plot that relied on everyone's arriving at the antimatter bomb with exactly six minutes to spare? What if he'd been just a little bit off? And did he really think that nothing bad would happen to Vatican City as a 5-kiloton bomb went off just a few thousand feet above it? (By the way, why did nothing bad happen?)

And with the Carmelengo exposed, why does the security team walk toward him very, very slowly until he starts running, then let him get a good long lead, and then start running toward him at top speed?

And while we're complaining, the method of electing the Pope by acclamation quasi ex inspiratione was abolished in 1996 and there is also no requirement that the Pope be chosen from among the existing cardinals. (See paragraph 88 in the previous link.)

But of course the real problem is that the whole idea that the Carmelengo would cook up this unbelievably elaborate plot that included killing the Pope and his likely successors, and all for no very adequate reason, is just too absurd to believe.

So for something much more realistic, go catch the new Star Trek. That was surprisingly good.

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