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Vatican damns Angels and Demons as 'quite harmless'

Will lack of condemnation mean box-office purgatory?

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The Vatican's inhouse film reviewer has damned Ron Howard's Angels and Demons with faint praise, describing the ludicrous confection of anti-matter, illuminati and dead cardinals as "mostly harmless".

The hellishly bland review comes just days after Howard condemned the Church for using "back channels" to stop his team filming in...Churches.

That the Vatican's inhouse rag L'Osservatore Romano even reviewed the pic at all is a surprise. The Vatican was incensed by the previous movie in the series, The Da Vinci Code, with its depiction of murderous cardinals and musings on whether the descendants of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalen were walking the lowlands of Scotland to this day.

The review dwells on the public's deep seated urge to consider the mysteries of life and death, within the comforting confines of the blockbuster novel, and Brown's portrayal of the Christian tradition as as a wealth of symbols and hidden texts, the meanings of which are largely forgotten by its own adherents.

After lulling readers into a pew-like trance, the review then sucker punches them by declaring the movie "quite harmless", noting that in this instance, the church are the "good guys".

However, it notes that the original novel - which it describes as "modest" - is a prequel to The Da Vinci Code, in which the Vatican's interpretation of the origins of Christianity is overthrown.

The reviewer lets this one lie though, suggesting that the books and the films could provide "an incentive to review" how the church puts forward its views on burning issues.

All of which only confirms Howard's thesis that the Church is using the dark arts to stifle the movie.

If the Vatican could do one one thing to turn the key film-going demographic - young, testosterone-soaked men - off this movie, it is witholding its spit flecked disapproval. By actually describing it as harmless and suggesting it has some use as a vehicle of theological discussion, it is clearly reading the last rites. ®

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