Angels + Demons + Stem Cells + Tom Hanks

In CELEBRITIES & STEM CELLS on October 15, 2009 at 1:59 pm

What can Angels and Demons tell us about stem cells and religion?  Not much.  Here are a few snippets of analysis from different sources. – dg


Angels & Demons

…Ron Howard has grown into a more confident director of florid action sequences.Gift-wrapped in production design lifted from The Godfather and a score by Hans Zimmer that sounds like the rumbling tummies of a thousand underfed monks, Angels is studded with capably brutal set pieces building to an impressive, if ineffably silly, bit of business involving a helicopter, a parachute and a huge crowd fighting over stem cell research in Saint Peter’s Square.

via Houston Movies – Angels & Demons with Tom Hanks – page 1.



The film refers to making anti-matter as a new form of energy to power cities. Is this possible?

Professor Wark: “No…we have looked for billions of light years and all we can see in the Universe is normal matter.”

But don’t let the science spoil your fun. It’s not often you watch a thriller and get lines like: “If science is allowed to claim the power of creation what is left for God?”

Or a crowd scene with people yelling: “Stem cells are murder.”




Even the current “faith vs. science” debate over embryonic stem cells is briefly depicted in Angels & Demons in a balanced way.

As if to counteract his cinematic love affair with Catholic Rome, Howard takes a couple visual pot shots. One of the first scenes has the cardinals entering into conclave crushing out cigarettes and flipping off cell phones (something one would never see). Given that modern sensibilities generally equate smoking with the bad guys, this is a gratuitous dig.

Howard improbably has Catholics protesting stem cell research in Saint Peter’s Square, where a riot breaks out over church and science–during the papal conclave, no less. This bizarre vignette mercifully fades quickly from memory as the movie moves to a fast-paced car chase through Rome, capturing the real energy of the Eternal City.
I get a kick out of grammatical errors (when my overworked and sleep deprived brain catch them)…errors like dangling modifiers, “eats, shoots and leaves” errors and errors of omission that completely change meaning.  In the case of stem cells in the media, the word “EMBRYONIC” is almost always omitted before “stem cell” in statements like: “STEM CELL RESEARCH IS MURDER!”  Only one out of 4 of the above reviews included the term “EMBRYONIC.”  So what, you ask?

There are 3 main branches of stem cell research…2 of which almost never get positive mention in the US media despite their history of success.
1.  ASC = adult stem cell
•used in bone marrow transplants for 40 years
•can currently treat 130+ diseases
•~zero problems (virtually zero side effects)
•comes from blood, umbilical cords, marrow, fat, nose, breast milk, menstruation, etc etc etc

2.  iPSC = induced pluripotent stem cell

•fairly new
•lotsa potential (needs more research)
•may be the best of both worlds
•comes from regular skin cells that are then magically transformed by scientists into stem cells

3.  ESC = embryonic stem cell
•can currently treat zero diseases
•lotsa problems (tumors, rejection, controversy, etc)
•comes from embryos

“STEM CELL RESEARCH IS MURDER” only refers to embryonic stem cell research.  The only stem cell research that has no approved, successful clinical trials, virtually no success, produces tumors and has rejection issues.- dg


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