Who knew that a movie based on an “unfilmable” literary property with a complex story structure — even with an all-star cast — could be this dynamic, this moving, this, yes, fun? CLOUD ATLAS encompasses stories spanning five-hundred years — going all the way from the historical tale of a young traveler (Jim Sturgess) enduring treachery on a sailing vessel to the futuristic story of a clone (Doona Bae) awakening to her own existence and the even-further-future adventure of a member of an endangered elite (Halle Berry) reaching out to a humble farmer (Tom Hanks) to help in the survival of her kind — and the film is as nimble-footed and riveting as any produced by its three directors, Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer.
In this deluxe-sized episode (and, trust us, we could’ve gone on much longer), beabetterbooktalker.com‘s Andrea Lipinski joins Cinefantastique Online’s Steve Biodrowski, Lawrence French, and Dan Persons to look deeply into the film, how it lives up to David Mitchell’s original book, how its daring structure explores the concept of narrative storytelling, and where, if anywhere, this experiment falters. Then, Steve and Dan take a capsule look at the new horror film SILENT HILL: REVELATION 3D, and Dan gives his verdict on the Cronenbergian horror film, GUT. Plus: What’s coming to theaters next week.
So good it can make you forgive the Wachowskis for SPEED RACER – and that is really saying something.
Encased, each of us, in his or her own little mantle of flesh, we wander through life – singular, individual, alone. Or so it seems. The individuality we prize so deeply can have side-effects: isolation, alienation. We forget – or perhaps never notice – the inter-connectivity that runs throughout our lives, the intricate web of cause and effect, of action and reaction. Those threads bind us together; perhaps sometimes we feel restrained by them, but in our luckier moments we feel the the joy of communion and solidarity, of shared experience and common ground; we feel that Sense of Wonder that infuses our souls with something grander than the simple struggle for survival – a feeling that life has meaning or at least is worth living. Unfortunately, those gossamer webs connecting us are often too fine to be seen, hidden from view like an optical illusion – a failure of perception. We need to clear our vision, to wipe the scales from our eyes. We may turn to religion, mysticism, meditation, or drugs. Sometimes, we turn to the cinema. One of those times is CLOUD ATLAS.
The new film from the writing-directing triple-team of Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, and Lana Wachowski is an epic tone-poem on the subject of inter-connectivity, portraying lives past, present, and future, whose stories intertwine and feedback on each other, whose themes repeat with variations, like the motifs in a great symphony. The concept may sound precious on the page – pretentious, even confusing – but on screen the results are captivating, almost from beginning to end.
Certainly, there is a little initial trouble; as the various timelines are being laid out and the characters introduced, the narrative gambit feels gimmick being used to goose up individual story lines that may not, in and of themselves, be particularly interesting. Fortunately, within fifteen minutes, the concept begins to coalesce in your mind, helped along by the fact that the various plots parallel each other in ways that make the jumps in time completely logical (figuratively – and sometimes literally – when a door opens in one era, another door closes in a different era).
Also assisting the audience is the casting continuity,which see the major players taking on multiple roles. It is not always clear that each actor is always playing his or her equivalent in the different timelines (in fact, a tell-tale birthmark suggests a completely different line of descent in some cases), but the sense of echoes and reflections is enhanced, increasing our sense of an overall understanding, even if the actual lines of connection require multiple viewings to sort out. Or perhaps not. One of the sly jokes in CLOUD ATLAS is to bracket its story with Tom Hanks as an elderly version of Zachry (one of many guises he assumes), telling the stories to a band of young children. It’s certainly conceivable that the jumble of events, flip-flopping back and forth in time, are simply the result of senility, an accidental mash-up by an old coot who keeps forgetting one plot and jumping to another.
CLOUD ATLAS is filled with references and allusions to other works (everything from Herman Melville to Joseph Conrad), which might help us get a grasp on how to read this sprawling epic. I’m sure it’s no accident that Moby Dick is conspicuously name-checked – another sprawling epic, the scope and scale of which ultimately wins out over any objections about its ungainly structure.
Strangely, the closest point of comparison I can find for CLOUD ATLAS is the Errol Morris documentary FAST, CHEAP & OUT OF CONTROL, which told the story of four different people in unusual professions, cutting back and forth, and eventually overlapping dialogue, until the underlying continuity gradually emerged to the viewer, creating a sense of some unified whole that was more than the sum of the parts we were seeing.
The through line running throughout CLOUD ATLAS is freedom-versus-slavery, sometimes literal, sometimes figurative. Even as the film advances its vision of interwining events, the characters fight to find and/or retain their own identify, to defeat the so-called “natural order” of things, in which “the weak are meat, and the strong eat.” The message seems to be the the values we hold high – decency, fairness, equality, dignity – may be, in some sense, unnatural, and the fight to achieve them may be long and hard, but ultimately worth it because there is something eternal in us that cries out to achieve it, at whatever cost. As piece of technical craftsmanship, CLOUD ATLAS is impeccable. Equally important, the technique is put in the service of a vision with substance; the splashy visuals never usurp the drama. Even the gimmick of casting and recasting the same actors, sometimes under pounds of makeup, becomes part of the fabric, as the cast dig into their roles like actors rather than movie stars, relishing the opportunity to find the subtle differences in relationships and stories the span centuries but somehow remain consistent. Hugh Grant has a kick, playing against type as a savage; Keith David is so strong you wish he were on screen more, and Hugo Weaving proves he has all sorts of different shades and colors he can use to express villainy (most gaudily as the Devil – or at least Zachry’s imagined version of the Devil).
Not everything in CLOUD ATLAS is perfect. The murder of a literary critic is played for cheap laughs (he’s a critic, right, so good riddance!), and the consequence is at least dubious: the murderer’s book becomes a best-seller (a far more likely result would be a brief fifteen minutes of fame during the trial, followed by obscurity in prison). The future scenes, set in Neo Seoul, sometimes descend into second-rate MATRIX-style action, which would be fun in a summer popcorn flick but seems wildly out of place in the grander scheme of things here. The makeup intended to turn Jim Sturgess into a Korean ends up making him look more like Keanu Reeves (an inside joke, perhaps?) At first, Jim Broadbent looks so much alike from scene to scene that we lose track of which era we are watching. And the post-apocalyptic time period sparks unwanted memories of bad ’70s sci-fi telefilms.
Ultimately, these flaws matter little, because the rest of CLOUD ATLAS is so good that it can make you forgive the Wachowskis for SPEED RACER. And that is truly saying something. CLOUD ATLAS (Warner Brothers, October 26, 2012). Written for the screen and directed by Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski; based on the novel by David Mitchell. Cast: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, Keith David, James D’Arcy, Xun Zhou, David Gyasi, Susan Sarandon, Hugh Grant. Recent Reviews:
In this promotional featurette, Tom Hanks, Halle, Berry, and Susan Sarandon talk about playing multiple roles in the big screen adaptation of David Mithcell’s novel, written and directed by Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, and Lana Wachowski.
By the high standards of Pixar, the new TOY STORY 3 falls slightly short – which means it’s still better than anything else in the computer-animated sweepstakes.
After a while, it becomes a bit predictable, almost boring, to proclaim each and every new film from Pixar Animation Studios as a yet another masterpiece. Their consistently high quality has created a situation roughly analogous to Texas Hold ‘Em Poker, in which (thanks to the number of cards each player has in common) the difference between the winning hand and the losing hand is often very slight; that is, trying to rank a new Pixar film on a scale from best to “worst” in the company catalogue is a matter of choosing between the ace-high straight and the king-high straight. By that high standard, TOY STORY 3 can be reckoned a minor disappointment: unlike recent efforts WALL-E and UP, which surpassed their predecessors, the new TOY STORY falls slightly short. Which means it’s still better than anything else out there in the computer-animated field, especially the deadly dull SHREK FOREVER AFTER.
This time out, the plot has Woody, Buzz and the rest of the gang contemplating their own mortality, or at least their obsolescence. Andy is packing to head off to college, and the fate of the toys is uncertain, with storage, donation, or eBay among the likely possibilities. Through a mix-up, most of the toys end up sent to Sunnyside, a day care center, and Woody (who was set aside to accompany Andy to college) races to retrieve them. However, Buzz and company are not so sure they want to go back. Their new home seems like a utopia. Certainly, a life among playful children and other toys is preferable to storage in a dark attic, hoping for the unlikely day that Andy retrieves them?
The brilliance of the TOY STORY 3 scenario is simple and elegant: although it is loaded with action set-pieces, and eventually morphs into a prison-break movie, the plot mechanics are grounded in a dramatic conflict that gives both sides an understandable point of view while putting them in conflict. The ever faithful Woody (Tom Hanks) firmly believes that the toys’ primary purpose is to always be there in case Andy ever needs them. Buzz and the others are more willing to see the writing on the wall: Andy has moved on, and does not need them any more. In traditional, safe Hollywood story-telling, Woody would be obviously right, and the entire plot would be contrived to preserve the essential situation carried over from the previous films, restoring the status quo for the next sequel. Instead, TOY STORY 3 dares to confront the sad reality of the need to move on when your time is done.
Fortunately, the film does so without resorting to bathos. Its drama is realized through some exciting action and suspense sequences; for the first time, Pixar even extends its reach into horror territory, with some dark and even disturbing scenes. The baby doll that acts as an over-sized henchmen to the film’s villain is a twisted spoof on movie monsters, a little bit funny and creepy at the same time – a little bit scary but still fun. The finale, aboard a conveyor belt in a trash disposal facility dragging the toys down to what looks like certain doom – more than that, it looks like the gate of hell spewing forth flames of destruction – ceases to be an amusing roller-coaster thrill ride and turns into something terrifying, even heart-rending, as the toys join hands and face the approaching immolation. The moment when Jessie turns to Buzz, the hero who is supposed to be able to effect rescue from any situation, and all he can do is silently take her hand, is guaranteed to choke up even the most hard-hearted cynic. (This is the kind of scene I like to call “The Money Scene” – the one so good that even if the rest of the movie totally sucked, you would walk out of the theatre feeling you had gotten your money’s worth. And by the way, isn’t it amazing that these CGI toys generate more audience empathy than live-action characters in the week’s other big fantasy release, JONAH HEX?)
Where TOY STORY 3 falls short is in pacing and sub-plots. The central conflict (stay at Sunnyside or return to Andy) is short-circuited when there turns out to be a dark side to the day care center: the apparently friendly Lotso the Bear (Ned Beatty) is really a villain who consigns the new toys to younger, age-inappropriate kids, who thrash the helpless playthings with wild abandon. Sunnyside turns out to be not utopia but a prison, and Woody must devise a way to help his friends break out. It’s fun stuff, but it’s not always as exciting as it should be, and it renders the initial conflict somewhat moot (the decision to leave is forced on the characters by the unpleasant circumstances).
Interpolated but not quite fully integrated into this is the appearance of a Ken doll, who falls head over heals for Barbie (the two feel “made for each other”). Ken is on Lotso’s team, however, so Barbie dumps him to stand by her friends. It hardly requires a spoiler alert to say that Ken has a change of heart; unfortunately, the Barbie-Ken sub-plot is squeezed into the larger story in a way that feels slightly short-changed, as if this were a short-subject that should have been developed more fully. These developments offers some interesting bits, such as a friendly faced toy phone whose handset speaks in the voice of a tough convict. We get the wonderful scene of Buzz Lightyear in “Spanish mode” (with Tim Allen’s voice briefly replaced by that of Javier Fernandez Pena) – which allows him to express his heretofore repressed attraction to Jessie. And Barbie gets the most memorable line, quoting Thomas Jefferson to Lotso to remind him that the authority of government proceeds from the consent of the governed, not from the threat of violence.*
These bits feel like pieces mixed in with the familiar, lovable shtick (Wallace Shawn’s lovably nervous T-Rex, John Ratzenberger’s hilariously intelligent piggy bank). They’re good, sometimes great, and the script does not fully unify into a satisfying whole. Consequently, the pacing occasionally feels a bit off, as we wait for the next gag to reawaken our slightly flagging interest.
Fortunately, that wait is rewarded. TOY STORY 3 saves its best sequences for the third act, which delivers everything you could have hoped for – not just the bang but the melancholy tears as well. In a beautiful combination of the sad and the uplifting, we see the torch passed on to a new generation in a way that suggests the flame continues to flicker inside the previous generation. Toys are not just inanimate objects, mere possessions, says the film. Toys are an integral part of imagination and fantasy and creative (realized on screen through a mini-movie depicting one of Andy’s playtime scenarios). By keeping that love of toys alive, the TOY STORY films – and particularly TOY STORY 3 – celebrate and help preserve the Sense of Wonder that enriches the lives of all of us who enjoy cinefantastique.
One final note: As has become de rigueur today, TOY STORY 3 is being presented in 3D (Disney Digital 3D, to be precise). The computer-generated animation looks beautiful with the extra third dimension, but overall the process does not add immeasurably to the film, and you would not particularly shortchange yourself if you saw it in old-fashioned 2D.
DAY AND NIGHT: SHORT SUBJECT
TOY STORY 3 is playing withe a Pixar short subject titled DAY AND NIGHT. More a concept than a story, the film presents two characters (flatly rendered in the style of old hand-drawn animation) who are seen in a black void; however, within their silhouettes we see lovely background scenes that express the characters’ moods and feelings. One silhouette reveals day time scenes; the other reveals night time scenes. At first antagonistic, each learns to appreciate what the other has to offer. It’s an impressive visual conceit, but once the concept becomes clear, the episode is a bit flimsy – more clever than brilliant. FOOTNOTE:
At times TOY STORY 3 sounds like a deliberate attempt to beat Pixar rival DreamWorks Animation at their own game. Barbie’s quoting of Jefferson recalls DreamWorks’ ANTZ, which quote Karl Marx (“The workers control the means of production”). In the manner of DreamWorks, there is also some double entendere dialogue between Ken and Barbie, meant to fly over the heads of younger children while eliciting laughter from adults. “Nice leg…warmers,” says Ken to Barbie, who responds, “Nice ass-cot.” There’s even a throw-away bit suggesting one character thinks Ken, who is presented as a bit of a metro-sexual, is a cross-dresser.
TOY STORY 3 (June 18, 2010). Directed by Lee Unkrich. Written by Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich. Voices: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Michael Keaton, Whoopi Goldberg, Joan Cusack, John Ratzenberg, Wallace Shawn, Bonnie Hunt, Timothy Dalton, R. Lee Ermey, Don Rickles, Ned Beatty.
After the other toys accidentally reset his programming, Buzz Lightyear speaks Spanish in this clip from TOY STORY 3, starring Tim Allen, Tom Hanks, and Michael Keaton, from Pixar Animation Studios.
A look behind the scenes of Pixar Animation Studios’ TOY STORY 3, including film clips and interviews with director Lee Unkrich, producer Darla K. Anderson, and voice actors Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, and Michael Keaton.
This big-budget, Hollywood studio adaptation of the best-selling novel by Dan Brown turns out to be a murky, plodding affair, whose pompous aspirations toward being serious undermine most of the entertainment value of what is, underneath the gloss, a simple-minded hokey thriller. Although it is interesting enough to hold your attention, and even comes to life in places, it is ultimately too long, too stilted, and — occasionally — too ridiculous to be reckoned a success.
In case you haven’t heard, the film follows Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks), an art historian and professor who is summoned to help the police investigate a murder at the Louvre museum in Paris. It turns out Langdon is actually a suspect. He hooks up with a policewoman (Audrey Tautou), who coincidentally happens to be the murdered man’s granddaughter. They follow a series of clues that leads them to seek the advice of an expert who has dedicated his life to studying the Holy Grail (Ian McKellen). Meanwhile, they are pursued by the real murderer, an albino monk (Paul Bettaney), who is working for a Bishop (Alfred Molina) of the conservative believe Catholic organization Opus Dei, which is seeking to find and destroy evidence that Jesus was really married to Mary Magdalene.
The convoluted plot is pretty much incredible and nonsensical, as it was in the novel. The difference is that Brown had a lot more space to rationalize his incidents and layer on heavy doses and psuedo-historical bullshit that made the whole story feel as if something important really was going on. The screenplay by Akiva Goldsman has to cut way down on the exposition but still leave in enough to leave some semblance of clarity. The result is the worst of both worlds: a storyline that feels both over-burdened with exposition and filled with gaps in logic.
Despite his obviously failings as a novelist (one-dimensional characters, lame dialogue, bad research presented as established fact), Brown’s redeeming strength was that he turned his book into a page-turner by filling it with clues and puzzles that kept the reader intrigued and wanting to know more. Apparently written for readers with attention deficit disorder, the book is filled with short chapters, almost every one of which ends with some kind of riddle or unanswered question that’s just interesting enough to make you read on to the next chapter.
The film loses a lot of this stretegy, but it does retain many of the clues and puzzles — just enough to make the plot an occasionally interesting mystery. Unfortunately, despite lavish production values, beautiful location shooting, and BEAUTIFUL MIND-style flashbacks superimposed over the expository passages, the film never brings the story to life in a cinematic way that stands on its own.
It is only a slight exaggeration to say there are none. Langdon is mostly passive and entirely colorless. His phobia about confined spaces is thrown in as if to humanize him with a character flaw, but it is an empty detail with no resonance. In fact, the part is so devoid of interest that even the usually reliable Hanks seems totally adrift, with no idea what to do but stand around looking at all the objects d’art, and frequently mouthing one of Brown’s many long-winded (if utterly unconvincing) lectures about the Divine Feminine.
Audrey Tautou fares equally poorly in a roll equally underwritten — a generic leading lady who, like Langdon, simply does what’s necessary to keep the plot going in the right direction.
Fortunately, Ian McKellen proves to be a lively scene-stealer in the film’s later half, expounding upon his character’s theories with a twinkle in his eye that tells us to enjoy that silliness without taking it seriously. Too bad no one else in the cast figured out that this was the way to play the material; in fact, it’s too bad Ron Howard didn’t figure out that the whole film should have affected this tongue-in-cheek tone.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The film has a suitably sinister atmosphere. With its historical underpinnings and use of ancient art and architecture, DA VINCI CODE almost feels like a Gothic horror film — an element underlined by Bettaney’s spooky performance as the murderous monk, known as the “Phantasm” because of his lack of skin coloring. That’s enough to hold interest for about a half-hour’s worth of screen time; unfortunately, the film is so in love with itself that it doesn’t bother to maintain a healthy pace, in spite of the thriller elements.
As a director, Ron Howard cut his teeth on cheap, action-packed drive-in movies produced by Roger Corman. Sadly, the verve and energy of that style of film-making is nowhere on display in THE DA VINCI CODE, which plays like a lame attempt to duplicate the Hitchcockian formula of NORTH BY NORTHWEST. Howard lacks the wit and style to pull this off, and the attempt to treat the material reverentially only emphasizes its failings — whereas a more brash approach might have livened things up. Ultimately, the greatest mystery of THE DA VINCI CODE is why anyone would think it worth solving.
The DaVinci Code (2006). Directed by Ron Howard. Screenplay by Akiva Goldsman, based on the novel by Dan Brown. Cast: Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Ian McKellen, Jean Reno, Paul Bettany, Alfred Molina, Jurgen Prochnow.
Cinefantastiquehas a long tradition of inclusiveness when it comes to defining the genres it covers. Most recently, we reviewed the mystery-thriller ANGELS & DEMONS because its plot is built around an anti-matter bomb, which technically makes the film science fiction. Having opened the door on the universe of Dan Brown’s novels, and the films adapted from them, I thought I might as well re-post this rant that I composed upon viewing THE Da VINCI CODE in 2006. Maybe I over-stated the case back then, but I think my points are valid, so I left the prose untouched.
I saw THE DAVINCI CODE the other night, and I must say my reaction was one of continuing amazement that Hollywood would make such a piece of crap. Sure, it’s polished and slick — even entertaining at times — but it is also relentlessly stupid and even offensive.
Two things struck me:
Although I don’t support calls to ban the film, Catholics are right to be offended. In fact, you could not get away with making a film that treated Judaism in a similar manner — it would be universally derided as anti-Semitic.
I hate movies when I have only a very limited knowledge of the subject matter — and yet it is abundantly clear that I know more than the filmmakers.
On ther first point, I kept wondering why it was okay to slander Catholics with such impunity. It’s impossible to imagine a major Hollywood studio making a movie in which a Jewish secret society hired some hulking homicidal albino to kill off a bunch of innocent people in order to advance a religious agenda. But really, if you’re going to make a film like DAVINCI CODE, why not follow up with a film adaptation of THE PROTOCOLS OF THE ELDERS OF ZION, portraying a nefarious worldwide Jewish conspiracy? Sure, it would be offensive, slanderous, and stupd — but how much more so than DAVINCI CODE?
As to the other thing about the film that ticked me off, I’ll elaborate by saying that my Biblical knowledge consists of having grown up in a Catholic family where my parents stopped making us go to church after our first communion. Since then, I read the occasional article and watch a documentary now and again on the History channel. Yet I was rolling in the aisle with laughter when THE DAVINCI CODE had its characters expounding on the Council of Nicea and the alleged attempt to debase the reputation of Mary Magdalene.
If you do Google search for “Cracking the DaVinci Code,” you can probably find lots of scholarly rebuttals to the nonsense advanced in Dan Brown’s book and repeated in the film adaptation. I haven’t finished the book yet, my impression is that the film downplayed some of these elements or at least added some lip-service acknowledgement of contrary theories, in order to make a pretense of a “balanced” view. But that doesn’t negate the essential silliness of the whole idea.
We’re supposed to believe that Jesus, a Jewish prophet who was later embraced by his followers as the Messiah and the Son of God, actually wanted to found a pagan-influenced church that worshipped the Goddess (or the Divine Feminine, if you prefer), the worship consisting of (briefly glimpsed) sexual rituals.
We’re also supposed to believe that Jesus was married to Mary Magdelane and wanted her to carry on his church after his death. But Peter and the apostles apparently took over and edged her out of the operation, creating the Christian relgion we know today.
Except that’s not quite it, either. Actually, the film blames the Roman Emperor Constantine and the Council of Nicea for creating Christianity as we know it — hundreds of years later.
This is so absurd it barely warrants comment. Christianity was already established by this time, but it was made up of different factions that emphasized different interpretations. All the Council of Nicea really did was formalize a a sort of basic common ground shared by the different groups.
Thus, the New Testament has not one but four different gospels, which differ in some respects quite a bit from each other. This hardly are resembles the work of a group crushing dissent and sanctioning only one narrow view of Christianity.
The evidence for THE DAVINCI CODE’s dubious claims about Mary Magdalene, we are told, lies in the Gnostic gospels that were excluded from the Bible at the Council of Nicea. What we’re never told is why we should accept these Gnostic gospels as true. These are just alternate interpretations of the life of Jesus that were created by small cults trying to advance their version of Christianity — often decades after the Canonical gospels had been written. There is little reason to believe that they are a more accurate depiction of Jesus’ life or teachings.
But what’s most funny about this alleged conspiracy is what a lousy job it must have done. After all, despite all its best efforts, Mary Magdalene appears in all four gospesl of the New Testament, and in many ways she comes across better than the men. To cite the most obvious example, after the crucifixion, Peter denies Jesus three times and goes into hiding, along with the rest of the apostles.
It is Mary (and one or two other women, depending on which gospel you read) who goes to the tomb and finds it empty. It is Mary to whom one or two angels announce the news of the resurrection. And it is Mary to whom the risen Jesus first appears. And the men don’t believe her when she tells them about it!
Something about those cowering, fearful, faithless men, contrasted with Mary, just makes them look really bad and makes her look really good. I know if I were part of a conspiracy to rewrite history and downgrade the role of Mary Magdalene, I would never have let this episode — in four different versions, no less — make its way into the Bible.
Of course, the filmmakers are hiding behind the shiled of dramatic license, insisting that their movie is only fiction. But if that were true, no one would go see THE DA VINCI CODE. As a murder mystery, it is barely adequate hokum, bogged down by its scholarly pretensions. The only reason the subject matter has caught the imagination of the public is that author Dan Brown has cleverly convinced the public that his novel is based on historical fact. (The very first page begins with the boldfaced word FACT at the top, followed by a few paragraphs that allegedly lay the groundwork for the books historical veracity.)
I know people like conspiracy theories, and the Catholic Church has much to answer for. Even putting aside historical atrocities like the Spanish Inquisition, the Church of today has a lousy record on issues like birth control, abortion, and attitudes toward women and gay people. But that’s no reason to accept Dan Brown’s idiotic theory about goddess-worship as if it were gospel truth.