Film Review: Angels & Demons

Angels and Demons Half Angel, Half Demon Statue Wallpaper

Angels & Demons was regarded by the Vatican as harmless, unlike the Da Vinci Code which jabbed at the righteousness of the Church. What I do find shocking is that whilst Catholics, or generally those of the Christian persuasion get in an uproar about their religion being badmouthed Scientists haven’t been outraged (as far as I know) about the potential dangers of Antimatter and the Science Fiction surrounding its use for nefarious purposes in this film. If I were to play devils advocate I would say that maybe Science doesn’t need defending because its right and religion is just mumbo-jumbo but I know that to be mostly wrong, those with religion keep it very close to their heart and as such its easy to bruise both at the same time. Still, maybe if there wasn’t a kerfuffle at every little bruise then the world wouldn’t have seen so many wars and would be a happier place, I digress.

Summary: An ancient secret society called the Illuminati steals the antimatter created a CERN and hides it Vatican City. Its container will fail in 24 hours causing an enormous explosion, with the Pope having recently died, the four Preferiti missing and the papal conclave in progress with the highest order of Cardinals in attendance the entirety of the catholic church is in Danger. To track down the Illuminati Robert Langdon is summoned to follow the Path of Illumination to the societies secret meeting place hopefully where the bomb can be found and the antimatter contained.

I enjoyed the Da Vinci code for its fast paced adventure and the educational parts, which is why I didn’t enjoy Angels and Demons as much. Dan Brown’s (quoted below) thrillers are written to interest and entertain which is why I’m surprised the dynamic of the film changed so much. If they are going to make a third around 2012 I hope that as a compromise they render the plot somewhere between outrage and bland rather than toward the extremes where I feel they’ve played so far.

“My goal is always to make the character’s and plot be so engaging that readers don’t realize how much they are learning along the way.”

The writers and director most likely scaled back the religious intrigue and subsequently the characters. Watching Tom Hanks’ port ail of Robert Langdon I felt for the entire film that he was holding back for something, I continued to sit on the edge of my seat taking note of each Chekhov gun waiting for all or many of them to be explained beautifully with illustrations, alas it never happened. Coincidently I feel guilty for Ayelet Zurer whom didn’t have much dialogue to work with unlike Audrey Tautou’s Sophie Neveu whom Langdon conversed with often.

As a standalone movie I enjoyed watching this quest but when compared to the sight, sound and experience to the The Da Vinci Code (2006) I find it vanilla. Take the soundtrack for example, in the first film the sound rose from your toes all the way to your ears, especially the part called Chevaliers De Sangreal played whilst by the Tomb interred by a pope, whereas the soundtrack doesn’t enhance A&D it is a mellow accompaniment.

The small and medium visual and special effects where well concealed, but the larger stunts, particularly the ones to risky for a actor to perform where of a similar quality to the Matrix fight scenes from 10 years ago which were the peak of their time, surely they can be outdone now.

Perhaps this is a trend we can come to expect from sequels, Quantum of Solace was similarly inoffensive compared to Casino Royale but then again The Dark Knight surpassed Batman Begins greatly. Despite all this I recommend paying out to see this at the cinema but if you’re only going to see 3 movies I’ve see Star Trek, Transformers 2 and Harry Potter.

  • Picture: 9/10
  • Sound: 6/10
  • Effects: 8/10
  • Story: 7/10

The Matrix of the Real

Whilst being trapped in a prison you can not see, taste or feel is considered a paranoid fantasy is might be a possible solution to a problem 100 trillion years in the making, the end of the universe. Why the sudden interest in the Matrix? It has been 10 years since its release at cinemas worldwide, a film that stimulated a great deal of speculation not only in philosophy, particularly existentialism but religion, cyberpunk culture and digital story telling effects.

Continue reading The Matrix of the Real

Colourful Campfires

Everyone knows that you get yellow fire from burning wood, depending on what you add to a fire you can change the colour of its flame. The reason particular colours are given out is due to the energy level the ‘burning’ happens at. Remember the old period table? (or if you had modern enough science teacher; a periodic galaxy?) well its all down its arrangement.

The Sciencey Bit

(Skip this if you really don’t want to know why) The reason different compounds or elements produce different colours when burnt is the oxygen combines with them changing the arrangement of the atoms electrons.

Electrons form orbits or ‘shells’ with higher levels of potential energy for each one in each each orbit, filling up the bottom orbits first. When an electron is exchanged from one shell to another light (photons) must be emitted with an energy matching the change in ‘height’ (potential energy) to maintain balance. The energy of a photon is determined by the Planck constant multiplied by its frequency (E = h×?) which means that different energies result in different frequencies some of which can be seen as a colour.

The Example Bit

The most readily known examples of coloured fire are interstellar stars, although in all honesty they’re not really balls of fire but energy releasing spheres of luminous plasma. Anyway, they come in a variety of different colours depending on there temperature which is based on there dominant fuel, in the The Sun’s case it is 75% Hydrogen and 24% Helium giving it a yellow colour from our atmosphere. As the Sun ages the Hydrogen will become Helium through fusion and it will appear red, just like the the Sun Krypton orbits in Superman and it is called what is known as a Red Dwarf. As the Helium ‘burns’ together into even denser materials it will eventually change to White Dwarf.

Another example that is slightly more down to Earth is the use of different compounds for stunning sky bound effects called fireworks. To produce the most brilliant colours other elements are used to enhance the colour produced from burning, usually Chlorine, which is toxic in large amounts.

The Safety Bit

WARNING: I wouldn’t suggest acquiring any of these elements and trying it out for yourself, especially since some of these substances alone are radioactive, toxic or both! This is intended as a reverse lookup; you see the colour then work out what made it. I’ve not listed every substance just the ones I could find any information on.

The Referencey Bit

Name Metal Image Flame Notes
Lithium
Li   3
Alkaili Lithium suspended in Oil in Test tube by BioNerd Red to White Lithium Flame by Metal Chem White Fume
Strontium
Sr   38
Alkaline Earth Strontium in Radiation Container by BioNerd Red, Crimson Strontium Flame by V31S70 Violent Reaction in Moisture, White Fume
Calcium
Ca   20
Alkaline Earth Calcium in Test tube by BioNerd Brick Red, Orange Calcium Flame by Metal Chem  
Iron
Fe   26
Transition Iron (filings) in Test tube by daynoir Gold Easily Magnetic, Symbol from the Word ‘Ferrum’
Sodium
Na   11
Alkali Silvery White Yellow Sodium Flame by Metal Chem Easily Cut with Knife, Reactive with Water, White Fume
Manganese
Mn   25
Transition Silvery Metallic Yellowish green Poisonous, esp. if inhaled
Molybdenum
Mo   42
Transition Grey Metallic Yellowish green May have facilitated multicellular lifeforms
Barium
Ba   56
Alkali Earth Barium in Radiation Container by BioNerd Pale/Apple Green Barium Flame by Metal Chem Mades rare Gem Benitoite
Boron
B   5
Metalloids (Deep) Brown Bright green Used in Scientific Glassware
Thallium
Tl   81
Poor Silvery White Pure green Highly Toxic
Antimony
Sb   51
Metalloids Antimony in Test tube by BioNerd Pale green antimony Flame by Metal Chem  
Tellurium
Te   52
Metalloids Lustrous Silver Pale Green  
Phosphorus
P   15
Non Dull Red with White Sheen Pale bluish green Reactive when Cut, therefore used in Matches
Zinc
Zn   30
Transition Zinc in Test tube by BioNerd Bluish Green Zinc Flame by Randeeryan White Fume
Arsenic
As   33
Metalloids Arsenic in Test tube by BioNerd Blue Extremely poisonous
Bismuth
Bi   83
Poor Bismuth in Test tube by BioNerd Blue Slightly Radioactive, Very Low Toxicity, Yellow Fume
Caesium
Cs   55
Alkaili Caesium in Radiation Container by BioNerd Blue Slightly Radioactive
Copper
Cu   29
Transition Copper in Test tube by BioNerd Blue Copper Flame by Randeeryan Black Fume
Indium
In   49
Poor Light Grey Blue Used in Liquid Crystal Displays, Toxic
Lead
Pb   82
Post-transition Lead suspended in Oil in Test tube by BioNerd Blue High Density, Toxic, Stops Xrays Easily
Selenium
Se   34
Non Dark Grey with metallic sheen Azure blue Key Ingredient in Head’n’Shoulders, MacGuffin in Evolution
Potassium
K   19
Alkali Metal Silvery White Purple Potassium Flame by everyones idle Highly Reactive with Water
Rubidium
Rb   37
Alkali Grey White Red-violet Rubidium Flame by Metal Chem Highly Reactive with Water OR air
Aluminium
Al   13
Poor Aluminium in Test tube by BioNerd White Common Use, Very High Strength:Weight Ratio
Magnesium
Mg   12
Alkaline Earth Magnesium in Test tube by BioNerd White Magnesium Flame by I. Gelgard White Fume
Titanium
Ti   22
Transition Titanium in Test tube by BioNerd White Food Colourant E171 (Titanium Dioxide)

Photo credits:

Film Review: The Man from Earth

Before Star Wars made the dominant setting of pop culture Science Fiction in-space there were other stories that proposed the big “What if?” to a scientific reality and explored the repercussions of changing it. Older films didn’t have the ability to make billions of polygons dance on screen so they had to use plot and intrigue to grip an audiences attention, the ones that did survive in general knowledge to this day.

The film starts with a tenure professor’s going away party, the intention being to make final farewells to his friends of the last ten years. The last remnants of his packing that are on show and spark questions that lead to the idea that he proposes to the group: “What if a man, from the Upper Palaeolithic survived until the present day?” The academics and guests proceed to follow the hypothesis through conversation and enquiry.

Despite only the briefest of movements on the porch the stage is the hosts lounge with the story progressing purely through the parties discussions. The dialogue grips your attention so much that you easily imagine entire realms of possibilities about when and what the ‘caveman’ experienced.

One idea presented is of the “all knowing immortal”; a 14,000 year old would only be able to learn upto the edge of published knowledge on a particular subject, the noosphere grows too fast for anyone able to keep up. As such his current preoccupation’s information would be current but the Literature Doctorate from a century ago would be mostly redundant.

Same goes for experiences, a singular viewpoint of his nearest 100 metres doesn’t allow for a great perspective of what the world was doing at any one moment. You might be able to relay key events if you’re part of them but anything important enough to be of note indirectly puts attention on you, something that could result in your secrets discovery. Such a lapse could have dire consequences since as an ageless prisoner you would be trapped in your own body with escape as your only hope whereas a mortals death or escape could be their release.

This is one of those rare films (and by proxy the book ) that deserves to be remembered for its examination of long life, something that although has been done before it is done in a way and to a greater extent that the Highlander cinema never did. A rarity with great plot writing has becoming so scarce in the mainstream.

If you enjoyed what they could squeeze into this 108 minute film then I suggest checking out the book by Jerome Bixby of the same name.

Rating: 92%

Why try something dangerous?

Around 20th September the (Large) Hadron Collider started its first circles, there was speculation in the media, particularly Radio One with Scott Mills (Chris Moyles is off) were they would say that the first signs would be television and radio signals stopping and then cutting all sound! Why? The hype was that a black hole would be formed, suck in the Earth and destroy everything.

I’ve heard a few ask why try something that might cause a disaster? I can only think that you never know what you might discover exploring the unknown, whether its the deepest ocean, the highest peak of the mysteries of the Universe.

Infra-red, Ultraviolet, and X-rays were all discovered by witnessing something unknown and trying to find out why it happened. Infra-red has Communications and Military applications, Ultraviolet protects and entertains and X-rays have medical applications. They are very usual to us and exploring the reason for something unknown eventually allows us to utilise it some way.

So why try something dangerous that you might learn something from; because exploration is fun

Film Review: Transformers

My toys when I had a single digit age were Transformers, I saw the amazing animated movie at the cinema and even dressed up as Optimus Prime for a Halloween. As such in my teenage years I daydreamed what a live action film would be like, drawing on conclusions from what I’d seen in the cinema that week, be it The Matrix, or Episode 1. As years passed I grew more and more doubtful anyone from my generation would write a screenplay to get it directed and produced. Now its 2007 and my extremely high expectations have just about been reached.

Whilst I didn’t expect blocky robots with grotesque transformations I never imagined that the Autobots and Decepticons would be depicted so authentically. All the internal parts of the vehicle modes are visible in the humanoid form which is absolutely breathtaking, I don’t care how much it cost to render all the frames at 38 hours each it was worth every penny. However, now that the initial thrill is over I bet in the sequel (and there blatantly has to be one) there are more panels covering the mechanical organs, probably ret-con’d in as armour now that they are warring again.

Showed me something uncommon then, and a rarity now; for once the good guys didn’t always win outright at the conclusion of that weeks episode but they did eventually triumph in that particular story arch which meant that anything could happen and kept me guessing each week and inspiring me to work it out with my toys. With the eighties show being so iconic I assumed that the film might do the same, whilst the tale didn’t regale me as a beloved intrepid leader falling at the hands of the enemy the special effects did, something progressively harder in these insensitive times.

As for the toys, I owned Optimus Prime, both the original version and the Power Master version. I did not have Megatron, which is easily forgiveable because his alt mode was a pistol and given one of them to a kid is not something I would be entirely happy with today, toys guns should look like toys, plastic and brightly coloured. Maybe I’m being to PC but there are many parents not being protective enough out there and others being too much, if I fall into the ‘to much’ category on this issue so be it. Anyway, with the detail on the transformations being so high I’m interested to see how they engineer the newline of toys…

Hopefully you’ve kept reading to this point and as such I’ll not keep your attention much longer. This film whilst not entirely faithful to the animation that I loved so much is a fantastic watch. An entertaining story, great effects and superb performances.
Rating 96%

Wallpapers: Standard (4:3) and Widescreen (16:9)