demons and a dark city

Angels & Demons

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I borrowed and read Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons back when the first film’s still generating some negative buzz in the Catholic community. I just wanted to find out what the books have to offer.

Well, I found out soon enough that they offer lots of fun trivia, shallow characters, and unimpressive storytelling. Too harsh? To paraphrase one of my creative writing professors: Dan Brown’s loaded, he doesn’t give a shit about what you think.

True.

Paul Bettany saved the first film for me. I might even consider watching it again, for him, provided that I’ll be allowed to fast-forward. Angels & Demons is better because there’s less talk, and Ewan McGregor’s in it. No, seriously: the film’s pretty much straightforward. That insufferable Langdon throws in some nuggets of wisdom, but it’s all about the action. A string of themed murders, characters beating the clock, characters talking while trying to beat the clock – the stuff enjoyable, formulaic suspense films are made of.

I can hardly recall the book now, but that one scene in the film, that scene where Langdon is trapped under the church and is banging on the iron manhole cover to attract the policemen’s attention? I remember that as a particularly excruciating flashback passage in the book. This is the problem with characters that are not thoroughly fleshed out: I don’t care about Langdon, Mr. Writer, I don’t care about his phobia of being buried alive (or being in a small space, I can’t be sure) (see?), I don’t care about his childhood trauma, I don’t care about the history of his Mickey Mouse watch. Let’s not kid each other. This is plot-driven, baby. So move the damn plot forward and enough with these attempts at giving character backgrounds.

The film moves the plot forward and it works. It gets silly at times, but you’ll forgive the filmmakers. Just remember: Ewan McGregor gets a lot of screen time. And he’s wearing black.

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So you’ll forgive Vittoria for talking even though she knows they have less than five minutes to deactivate the bomb.

It’s not a spoiler. Suspense films are fraught with bombs. You should know this by now.

Photos from Celebrity Wonder and Allmoviephoto.com

Dark City

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In the beginning of the film, there’s a light swaying from the ceiling. There’s a man sitting in a bathtub filled with water. There’s blood on his forehead. He gets up, gets dressed. Someone calls him on the phone, says he’s a doctor, says he shouldn’t panic. The man gets out of the hotel room and finds out that everyone is asleep. The guy behind the desk, the guy in the phone booth, several men sitting around a table. Maybe the whole city, even. Save for the half-naked girl in his room, who is clearly dead. On her skin, someone has drawn spirals using blood.

Dark City’s premise is horrifying, and fascinating, and I highly recommend that you watch it. Also, it is an original story; it is not based on a comic book (as I would have assumed) or a novel. We hardly see original productions anymore.

Oh, and William Hurt’s in it, because William Hurt makes everything better. :D

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Special thanks to the lovely Liz for the reco.

Photos from sscnet.ucla.edu and flickr.com

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