The Angels and Demons movie sucked. Totally. I was like, “Two years of waiting and I get this?” I was about to give a point-by-point explanation of why the movie did not work magic the way the book did, but I realized it did not even deserve that. OK, I know some things must be sacrificed when you go from a 200-page novel to a two hour drama, but cutting off the romance between Vittoria and Langdon? Not even providing a moment to appreciate the awesome ambigrams? Paying almost no attention to the bloody and gory killings described in the book? You might think I am a sadist, espousing violence; but the Dan Brown’s ingenuity was using the dark side of human nature to expose the light – in the end, the book did get people thinking about the things surrounding science and religion. After all, thats the whole point…without the Demons, there are no Angels. The soundtrack was awesome though. But this is Hans Zimmer you are talking about, you sort of expect great music form him – he was the man behind the Dark Knight‘s score.
And for a totally unrelated raving, here is one of my Photoshop works of art that I did not share with you in the last post, on the grounds that it was a bit obscene:
Just to insult your intelligence: it is a spoof of the photo sharing site Flickr.com.
Speaking about animes, I almost forgot about a new one that will be aired simultaneously across the subcontinent in Animax (8:30 pm in India) today, called Fullmetal Alchemist – Brotherhood, a sequel to the enormously popular anime that was telecast almost a year ago.
Poised midway between science fiction and fantasy, the series belongs to the lesser known genre of science fantasy. It the FMA universe, almost magical “alchemy” replaces science. I simply loved the storyline in the previous series – Edward and Alphonse Elric, try to resurrect their dead mother using the forbidden practice of human alchemy, quite unaware of the law that governs their universe – the Law of Equal Exchange: “To obtain, something of equal value must be lost”. The consequences were treacherous. Al loses his physical body in the attempt, and Ed loses two of his limbs. Ed somehow manages to attach Al’s soul to a suit of armour. The two boys, having realized that it was impossible to bring back a dead person, set out in search of the Philosopher’s Stone, possibly the only thing that could recover their bodies, and get embroiled in a frantic series of political, emotional and alchemical misadventures.
What struck me as good is that the alternate universe of FMA is not an outright magical fantasy. Alchemy in their world is governed by laws of nature, comparable to the laws of physics in our own world. The makers also made sure that their world was not a fairyland. The series has an entire collection of people prepared to misuse alchemy for their own ends – the ghastly “homunculi”, military generals, murderers, researchers and a religious leader – the host of issues enveloping their world is not unlike our own.
They were liberal in showing the negative side of such an alchemy. I remember an episode when Ed fights an armoured guardian protecting the Stone. After defeating him, he realizes the guardian was just a soul attached to a suit of armour – like Al. The guardian asks Ed to kill him, as he no longer has a purpose in life, he had failed in his task, and above all since he was just part-human. When Ed refuses, he kills himself – much to Ed’s crazy horror.
That’s why I am looking forward to seeing the sequel today – to see what more misfortunes fall upon Ed and Al…
(Animax’s previous release, LaMb, totally sucked. Except for the Simple Plan soundtrack, of course.)
Update added today after watching it: The episode was in Japanese with English subtitles!! I should have expected it. It’s still early to decide whether this is going to be a great series or not. Anyway, it was a normally good first episode.
As far as I know, Japan produces more animated series – simply called “animes” – than the rest of the world combined. Most of them are based on guessable themes – samurais waiting for their revenge, Pokemon-type fantasy universes, and dramatic, violent bloodbaths that sometimes seems out of vogue. However, some anime are so genuinely new and outta the boxish that they stay in your mind forever.
Kino’s Journey is an anime that appeals on all levels – emotional, thrilling and sometimes philosophical. The story is about a young (rather androgynous looking) female “traveller”, who along with her talking motorbike, journey to different fictional places across the country. Each place is entirely different from its neighbours – either in its form of government, technology or its citizens. Kino believes that three days is enough to know all there is to know about any country – and leaves when the time is over. Often, the there is a Holmes-Doctor Watsonian touch of intellectual conversation between Kino and the talking motorbike, Hermes. (yeah, the whole 13 – episode series is sometimes surreal).
‘Nuff said. I’ll let the show do the talking – this is one of my favourite episodes which explains how Kino met Hermes and became a traveller. Watch the entire series and you will look at your life differently.
(Don’t worry, it is in English except the opening song, LOL. This is the first of a 3-part episode, you can search for parts 2 and 3 in YouTube.)
“The world is not
Therefore it is”
That was a line that appears at the end of the episode. You do not know how much I loved it. Sometimes, it is hard to look at Kino’s journey without drawing parallels with your own life.
Next month, a new movie will be released which is based on a prequel to the enormously successful Dan Brown novel, the Da Vinci Code. Its called Angels & Demons – and the trailer is out.
The story? An ancient brotherhood of artists and scientists thought to be extinct for four centuries and started by Galileo himself, known as the Illuminati, steal a canister of a highly explosive antimatter from the physics laboratory CERN. It looks as though they had quite a lot of issues with the Catholic Church. So, to take revenge they place the antimatter at the heart of Vatican city, after having some good fun killing the former Pope and four cardinals who wanna become one – and wait to blow the sh*t out of the entire city. Science and religion clash in this terrifying war. Now, it is upto a Harvard research scholar and a sexy CERN physicist to save the world.
Take a breath.
If the story sounded implausible to you, it is because…well, it is implausible. OK, I know it was real thrilling to read the novel – it was unputdownable when I first read it two years ago. I instantly fell in love with the book – it was exceedingly well written, the vivid characterization and deeply heart rending flashbacks, along with a complex plot, is still unforgettable. The ambigrams – words designed in such a way that it looks the same when read upside down – that were featured in the novel were totally awesome. And it sort of became a passion of mine to make ambigrams of my own.
The problems crop up when Dan Brown calls fiction as fact. Like its sequel, there is an author’s note in the first page which claims all the works of art and other facts mentioned in the book are completely accurate. The truth is rather different. The Illuminati was not founded by Galileo. There is no such thing as the Altars of Science. Antimatter could not be produced in quantities mentioned in the book, nor could antimatter bombs. It is not a reliable source of energy in the future. CERN doesn’t have spacey aircrafts, or for that matter a huge Glass Cathedral or an indoor sky-diving hamber. (They do have, however, an entire page discussing the inaccuracies in the book.) The entire novel is worthy of a conspiracy theory. Much of what Dan Brown calls as original research seems to be nonsense.
When the movie is released, I fear it will probably create a new group of believers who refuse to doubt the wisdom of Dan Brown. I still love the book immensely – but as a work of fiction.