Angels and Demons by Dan Brown – A Book Review

Soon I’m going to be taking part in a book study on The Da Vinci Code.  I’ve really had no interest in that particular book other than to see what all the fanfare was about.  So, I figured that if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it right.  I picked up the precursor to The Da Vinci Code, called Angels and Demons.

Angels and Demons is certainly fast paced.  If you are looking for a thrilling page-turner, this book is for you.  However, if you’re looking for some deep characterization, might I suggest (insert here)?  Yes, that was sarcasm.  It’s not that I didn’t like the book, because I did.  I just didn’t care about the book, and for me, that is a fundamental difference.  I read it simply to see what happened next, not because I really felt a personal investment for the characters within the story.  In other words, this is what’s called a plot-driven novel.  The characters are there to drive the plot forward.

There were really interesting twists and turns.  There were very cool exotic locations.  There were fascinating scientific and theological lectures.  And the suspense was executed rather masterfully. 

On the other hand, I have absolutely no idea what to believe in this book.  Most of it takes place within the most secret portions of Vatican City.  So, as you can imagine, certainly liberties had to have been taken.  Moreover, Dan Brown gives us a pseudo-history lesson on historical figures that may or may not be true!  I have no idea if Galileo founded a secret society of scientists!  I have no idea if there exists a super-science organization located in Europe!  I have no idea if the Catholic Church is guilty of half of what he writes they are.  Yes, I know the book is fiction, but c’mon, when the guy tells you its all fact before you start reading, it messes with your head!  Curse you, Dan Brown!  I didn’t mean that. 

All in all, this book was fun to read.  I don’t know if I learned anything from it from a moral, creative, or intellectual standpoint, but I did enjoy it.  I’m hoping that The Da Vinci Code is a bit more reliable.

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown – A Book Review

I’ve got to give it to Dan Brown, he’s discovered a formula that has taken America by storm. I think he happened across it with Angels and Demons. Take a gigantically important figure and make him/her the focus of the novel. Then, couple that with using as many facts as can be possibly found. Finally, use those facts to breed fiction that is logical, plausible, and wildly controversial.

Boom. You’ve got a hit.

I liked The Da Vinci Code, just like I enjoyed Angels and Demons. The book uses real locations and artistic works that engage the reader’s interest and imagination. It has a neck-breaking pace, and each chapter ends on a cliffhanger that demands you continue reading. If you’re reading for pure enjoyment, this book is just the prescription.

However, what I find troubling is due to no fault of the book itself. You see, many people out there are saying that this book had shaken their religious foundation to the core. Shame on those people. Again, The Da Vinci Code takes a wildly popular figure in the world, takes a great deal of fact, throws in quite a bit of fiction, and a hit was born. Sadly, it seems that a great deal of people are having trouble distinguishing between fact and fiction. My strongest advice to those people would be: go do some research. Find the answers you’re seeking by putting in some time and effort. Otherwise, accept this book for the genre it belongs to-fiction.

I can understand people getting up in arms over what’s being said in the book, because we’re all threatened when challenged. I’ll leave it up to you and your research to determine if Dan Brown was challenging anyone in particular, or if he was just trying to write a book that would be a guaranteed hit. What I don’t understand is people reading a work of fiction and saying that it’s completely changed their religious perspective.

So, all in all, if you’re looking for an entertaining read, pick this book up. If you’re looking for facts about religion and/or history, pick up something found in the non-fiction shelves of your local bookstore or library.

Surprisingly, I Don’t Give Rave Reviews To Every Movie I See, and Here’s the Proof!

I know it typically seems as though I write glowing reviews for a lot of movies.  The fact of the matter is that, like all of us, my time is limited so I typically write only reviews for those movies I actually enjoyed.  My wife and I watch many, many movies on DVD, so it’s hard for me to let you know about every single one of them, especially those that failed to move me in some way, shape, or form.

So, here it is!  Here’s a list of all the movies I’ve seen in the last six months that I didn’t feel compelled to write a review on.  Prepare for an onslaught of nastiness…

The Brother’s Grimm – Terrible acting, terrible story.

The Ice Harvest – Cusack usually good.  Movie bad.

Corpse Bride – I actually enjoyed this one.  Great animation with a fun premise.  Burton is gold in my mind.

The Weather Man – Nothing special about it.  At all.

Munich – I actually had to turn it off.  I can take some violence, but this just got to be way too much for me.  I understand violence is a part of our world, but I just wasn’t in the right frame of mind to watch this one.

Broken Flowers – Hate to admit it, but it bored me to death.  Had to turn it off.

The Producers – Had to turn if off.  Very, very annoying.

The New World – Bored me to tears.  Didn’t watch the whole thing.

I Heart Huckabees – I actually loved this one.  I sadly simply never found the time to write a review on it.  Really good movie, but only if you’re into postmodernism and metafiction.

Fun With Dick and Jane – Run away from this movie as fast as you can … and don’t look back.  I’ll be praying for you.

Ultimate Avengers 2 – About as good as the first one, and that’s not very good.

Date Movie – Utterly stupid and insipid.

Memoirs of a Geisha – I know I’m supposed to like it, but I found it very difficult to sit through.

The Da Vinci Code – A heartless copy of a fun book.

Stay – Darn it!  I actually really liked this brain tease as well, I just never found the time!  Rent this one if you get a chance, I thought it was very engaging and it had some excellent acting.

March of the Penguins – See Memoirs of a Geisha

The Invincible Iron Man – Vincible.  Very vincible.  (I’m pretty sure that’s not a word, but alas …)

Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut – If you’re that into Superman, you’ll get a kick out of this.  It’s how the sequel was originally supposed to be, before director Donner got canned halfway through.

Lady in the Water – I won’t mention the director’s name because it’s obvious he’s in the business of promoting himself over his art and I’m not going to assist him what that, but let’s just say that this movie was wrong on every possible level.  It’s one thing to subtly give yourself a quick shot on screen if you’re a director, it’s another to make yourself an integral part of the plot, especially when you act as well as my dog Lady, and she’s been dead for 27 years (true story).

Beerfest – I can’t very well chide this movie when I’m the one that sat through the whole thing, but I am not proud of that fact.  If you’re actually drinking beer yourself, this will probably seem hilarious.  If you’re sober and you like it … God help you.

Marie Antoinette – Again, visually interesting at times, but rather snore-inducing.

A Scanner Darkly – Crud!  I really wanted to write an in-depth review on this one.  Long story short, rent it if you’ve got nothing else to see.  Kind of cool, kind of discombobulated, but definitely hard to take the eyes off of. 

Okay, the bloodbath is over.  Hope you enjoyed learning I, in fact, don’t like every single thing I see.  Disagree with some of my choices?  Feel free to sound off!