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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Dogma is a Kevin Smith film that addresses religion and other topic that some may deem controversial. Basically the film follows the adventures of two fallen angels, one being the angel of death, who is stuck to roam the earth for the rest of existence. Once they find a loophole in the system which would allow them to return to heaven, they jump at the opportunity and head to New Jersey where salvation lies not knowing that once they complete their return, their existence will be lost. The themes that were presented in this film were thinly veiled in the subtext but pretty obvious once I realized it. I would have originally thought the theme was religion, but acceptance seems like a more reliable theme to go off of then religion. Religion just seemed too obvious and the fact that everyone in the movie has trouble accepting the situation around them just seems fitting.
I watched this movie with some expectations in the comedy department
and I am glad to say that I am satisfied. This movie can make you laugh
and think at the same time. The performance given by Alan Rickman and
Chris Rock stands out. The director made sure that the concept wasn't
overburdening to the viewers and also that it didn't hurt religious
feelings of the viewers. This is one of the best executed comedy movies
of all time,not just because of the acting, but also because of the
scenario and story. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck does justice to their
roles of the rogue angles. Damon was at his usual best,while Affleck
did best to keep up and i can safely say that he succeeded.
Hats off,to the cast and crew.
Kevin Smith's unflinching onslaught upon organized religion that masks its intentions under the guise of an over-indulgent, goofy stoner road trip. Although he's chewing on some very thick meat in this one, a weighty, opinionated take on a touchy subject isn't quite enough to compensate for the sheer volume of quirks and trademarks the writer/director once again puts up on display. Every on-screen character speaks in long, unbroken monologues; basically mouthpieces for Smith himself. Jay and Silent Bob, the inessential links to Smith's earlier films, feel shoehorned into a plot that would've worked just as well (if not better) without them. Punchlines are virtually spelled out along the bottom of the screen, or glaringly in the backgrounds. It's a pity, because the film does have some valid points about the shortcomings of organized religion and the evolution of spirituality - particularly Catholicism - but amidst so much sinewy excess that central message is nearly clouded beyond interpretation. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, still fresh from the success of Good Will Hunting, turn in strong performances as ignorant fallen angels but ultimately find little else to work with.
People have been waiting for this movie ever since the last line in the
credits in Clerks said "Jay and Silent Bob will return in Dogma." They
returned, but in Mallrats and Chasing Amy, before this movie was made.
I guess Kevin Smith wanted a few more films under his belt before he
tackled a film like this, considering that it is probably his biggest
budget film made to date.
At the beginning of the movie, he tells people not to take this film too seriously, including the critics, and that God has a sense of humour so instead of calling it down in flames, just enjoy it. Even though, this comment at the beginning did not stop the Catholic Church from petitioning Disney to not release it, and from the film makers receiving lots of hate mail. Kevin Smith wasn't too worried as he then published the letters on the internet.
This movie is mainly about belief and the substance of it. I do disagree with his conclusion that faith is malleable and that it doesn't matter what you believe but as long as you believe then it is okay. Personally, just because I believe with my whole heart that the plane I am going to get into will not fall out of the sky, it doesn't mean that the plane won't fall out of the sky. In the end, this is probably the most heretical thing because it deceives us into thinking that we don't have to submit to God's rule and can save ourselves. Personally, if you wanted to be offensive, you should have gone the whole way and said that Jesus is the only way to God.
What it does say, which is probably far more offensive to some traditionalists, is that Jesus had a thirteenth disciple that was black, and that Jesus himself was Black. It also suggests that God is a woman, only to say at the end that God in fact has no sex (which I don't necessarily disagree with). Then we had Allanis Morrisette come out, acting all joyful and giggly. He also said that Mary had other children after Christ, and in fact it is highly unlikely that Joseph would not have hung around if he wasn't getting any sex - which I thought was actually quite a cool argument against the Catholic belief that Mary remained a virgin.
The movie itself is about two angels who were kicked out of heaven because one got too drunk and convinced the angel of death to give up his job. They then discovered a loophole to get back into heaven, and unfortunately that means that if they do so then God is fallible and thus entire existence vanishes for existence rests on the fact that God is infallible. The reason that the loophole exists is because the Catholics created all of the traditions which God has to hold (not true, and the biblical reference is taken out of context as well), and thus the angels are using this tradition to get back.
Even though I do make some criticisms, Kevin Smith does clearly outline at the beginning that this is a movie and that it has been written for a laugh. Even then Kevin Smith does put a lot of ideas into his movies, and from watching them we can see some of the things that he wishes to say. It was true in Clerks and other such movies, and it is the same here.
I guess in the end, this movie is a good movie (in fact it is my favourite Kevin Smith movie), but it falls back on some of the practical aspects. Kevin Smith is a brilliant writer, but his directorial skills are not the best. Some suggest that maybe he should stick with being a writer, or maybe work with some other directors, but whatever the suggestion, the truth is that Kevin Smith is very talented, and we hope that this isn't his last movie.
In Kevin Smith's world there are Angels among us, they blaspheme, kill
and covet by my reckoning three of the Big Ten perhaps Kevin
thought 7 outta 10 ain't bad? They also look like the guys from Good
Will Hunting! These two angels, Loki (Matt Damon) and Bartleby (Ben
Affleck) were cast from Heaven for things un-Angel-ly, though they
believe they have discovered a loophole that will allow them access
back to heaven, and they have 4 days to get to New Jersey to exploit
The problem there is that existence itself is based upon the principle that God is infallible, and proving him wrong in any way disproves that, meaning existence itself won't exist.
So every man and his Dog(ma) from both "sides" (you know up above and down below) are intent to either allow these two misguided Angels passage in order to create chaos or prevent them from f*cking up the nice gig we humans have down here.
The finer points of the plot don't matter here suffice to say that the Church trying to get hipper and more accessible is a factor what really drives the film is that the theological backdrop provides Kevin Smith's many characters with a setting where his dialogue sounds more plausible, even with all the unnecessary and extraneous formal touches that no-one aside from he and his characters use in everyday life. But Angels, Demons and Apostles probably do (not sure if I need capitals there but I'd hate to p*ss off the Church!).
With the big G-(wo)Man being laid up and unable to step in it is up to his staff to prevent this unholy act.
Bethanie (Linda Fiorentino) is the initially unwilling human charged with the ultimate responsibility by the Metatron AKA voice of God (Alan Rickman), Rufus is the formerly unknown 13th Apostle (who proves his authenticity by stating that Jesus "still owes me twelve bucks!"), and Smith faves Jay and Silent Bob are essentially escorts along for the rise and to provide much of the potty humour.
On the "Red" team are Azrael the demon (Jason Lee) and a few teenaged minions.
The ludicrous and way out setting is perfect for Kevin Smith to work with, being a pet project he obviously spent a great deal of time coming up with a plot that while far-fetched hangs together and is plausible in an impossible way. The script is often clever, the dialogue better than anything he has written since and there is lots of detail along the way that shows the time spend fine tuning the small things.
But with the good comes the not so good though Smith thankfully keeps his indulgences minor there are still various comic book references, a myriad of 80s references and wink-wink cameos, but it must be said they do all work or at least not detract from the good stuff.
And finally what other film can say that they have Salma Hayek as a stripper (I could give you 20 paragraphs on that 90 second scene alone!), a Sh*t-Demon, and who could forget the mass murder of fast food chain senior management topped off with the slaughter of hundreds of New Jersey-ites? (Unfortunately this was made before Jersey Shore so they weren't able to kill off the unbearably untalented Snooki that might be a job for a Terminator in the future.) I think Clerks remains Kevin Smith's best film and Chasing Amy is his most accomplished, but I wouldn't be surprised if this was the film he was most satisfied with, after all he managed to tick most of the "Kevin Smith Bingo TM" categories off (potty humour, 80s references, cameos, a cast of his familiars, drug references, Jay and Silent Bob, comic book parables etc) AND deal with his own religious questions at the same time, in a film that works quite well as a straight comedy albeit of the dreaded controversial type but even without the dick jokes (or lack thereof where Angels are concerned) the script is interesting enough that Dogma would be worth watching.
Of course if you are reading this and want me to address the film from a religious perspective you're wasting your time. It's just a movie, a good movie dealing with religious themes, but still JUST A MOVIE! Final Rating 8 / 10. Smith should go back to writing his own stuff about things that matter to him, anything else could be perceived as a Cop Out, which wouldn't be good.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Director Kevin Smith returns with Dogma. The film is about Batrtelby
played by Ben Affleck and Loki played by Matt Damon 2 fallen angels who
are trying very hard to get back into heaven. But they find that very
hard to do because Bethany Sloane played by Linda Fiorentino is the
last relative of Jesus Christ. The film s story is dark has a lot of
humor and a very all star cast. Although like Reservoir Dogs this film
is very dark and disturbing so I only recommend this if you are up for
a really sick comedy.
Rated R For Strong Language Including Sex Related Dialouge, Violence, Crude Humor, And Some Drug Content.
107 uses of the F-word.
This film was actually quite well done, juxtaposing catholic beliefs against historical evidence, and a modern human interpretation on religion. The fact is most of us are made to believe in some religion or another, depending on where we live, but this film actually points out that Greek, Norse, Jewish, Indian and Christian religions all have a point, and in this film it makes the observation that all have their pros. Doesn't make any of them right. And knowing that that none of them are right, in truth, it makes a joke of them all. And it does so in such a way it never plays off one religion, it plays them all off against the other. It's actually one of Kevin Smith's best, as instead of just using typical stereotypes to form his characters, he actually developed a character-driven story that involves some genuine history and theology. (as opposed to more recent theological dramas like The Da Vinci Code, which are purely speculative.) OK Jay and Silent Bob turn up to add some chaos. But all in all, this is actually one of Kevins Smiths best. Unless you aren't educated enough to know when the director is testing you. If you don't like this movie, thats actually your failing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I've always had mixed feelings about Dogma, and I feel that the best
way to sum it up is as follows:
As a comedy, the movie is hysterical! It has some incredibly funny dialog, mostly delivered by Alan Rickman, Jason Lee, and Jason Mewes's characters. As an adventure movie, it has a very creative plot and keeps you hooked throughout its journey to its epic and apocalyptic conclusion.
Where the movie fails and fails miserably is at being any sort of actual commentary on religion. Despite the many conversations about religion and dogmas held throughout the film...nothing all that "deep" is ever really said. The movie ultimately has a shallow message of "God is cool. Just have a sense of humor and an open mind." And this is a shame because Kevin Smith is clearly a bright guy who knows a lot about church history; he even claims in the closing credits that the film represents his lifetime's worth of religious reflection. You'd think he'd have said something a little more sophisticated.
In fact, despite being somewhat controversial when it came out, the movie never really is all that shocking. Yes, I realize there are religious zealots out there who get "offended" by even the slightest things (Angels and prophets using curse words! Jesus having a 13th apostle! Jesus being black! God being a woman!). But with all due respect, none of those things are REALLY controversial. I would have liked the movie to have been deeper and delved into greater issues like: the possibility of God not existing, or Jesus having been an invented character, or exposing the corruption of the Catholic Church, or what about the role of Judaism and Islam? That would have given the film a lot more weight in my opinion.
Fortunately, as I said, the movie is a lot of fun, and so I am able to sit back and laugh at what it offers. Rickman, Lee, and Salma Hayek all give the best performances. I do feel Linda Fiorentino is somewhat underwhelming; despite being the lead character, she frequently seems like the dullest thing in the film. I have heard that she and Smith did not get along, and maybe that affected why there seems to be so little to Bethany.
Dogma is a very fun and entertaining movie, but alas, it's not very deep, despite what the director seemed to think of it. Listening to Kevin Smith on the DVD commentary track is almost sad; he talks about how he was disappointed the movie didn't get Oscar nominations. Well, here's why: BECAUSE YOUR MOVIE HAS A SCENE WITH A POOP MONSTER! Smith could have made a stronger, deeper film if he had really tried. Instead he just made a little comedy, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's a very good movie to laugh with; it's just not good for much more than that.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
You know back in 1999, I had seen a lot of movies. I was barely 11
years old, but I'd seen The Matrix, Big Daddy, The Green Mile, American
Pie, The Phantom Menace, The Sixth Sense, Cruel Intentions, Toy Story
2, The Mummy, Sleepy Hallow and Austin Powers II, to name a few. But, I
unfortunately didn't see Dogma. Maybe it was because I was so young and
I didn't get to pick movies to buy or rent. Maybe it was because my
parents didn't want to have me watch a controversial religion movie
that pokes fun at Catholics and Christians and such. Whatever the
reason, I regret not seeing it 12 years ago...
Dogma follows the story of Loki (Matt Damon) and Bartelby (Ben Affleck), two angels cast down from Heaven and trying to find a loophole in order to get back in. Chris Rock, Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith and Linda Fiorentino are charged with the mission of stopping them, while Jason Lee plays the angel who wants to help them get back to Heaven.
I never expected to laugh as much as I did. But a majority of the jokes aimed at religion are quite an interesting take as well as a hilarious one. Kevin Smith is a brilliant writer and one of my all-time favourites. It's simply to understand this because well he knows how to make you laugh. He actually gives some sense of perspective even though he's making fun of some of these religious claims. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I understood that it's a work of fiction...but clearly Kevin did a lot of research beforehand.
It doesn't have any miraculous special effects, although the horns on Jason Lee are wicked along with the awesome wings on Ben Affleck. It's great to see Ben be such a bad-ass. I mean, he really hones his acting in this one, and I know there are a lot of Ben haters out there, but he's actually a talented fellow, I think. I especially love the scene where Damon and Affleck are spouting out all the nasty deeds the people in the office of Mooby's have done in their lives. It was such great memorization on their parts and even better delivery and timing. It's wonderful to see them be hilarious, nefarious and downright brilliant all the same time.
All that being said, people will never agree on this movie being great or awful for the simple fact of it's subject matter being too controversial and too personal. It hits home with too many people and thus it makes it beyond difficult to judge the movie with an objective view because it's so... sensitive. Perhaps, my bias of liking Smith's films (especially the View Askew universe) I am being generous in my rating. But, so be it, I will be on the minority, I guess, for liking this film. It's not supposed to be a work of insults. It's just a funny fantasy movie and it's just a good film to entertain you for two hours.
Clerks and Mallrats are pretty cool films that make a good watch. The
second Clerks installment is an OK film but goes nowhere in almost its
entirety and too many of the characters are just annoying. Jay and
Silent Bob Strike Back is utter crap that *probably* had a purpose
(despite starring mine and everyone's favorite characters, perhaps
proof that they were not meant to be leads). Chasing Amy is a great
movie which all the theory-talk and bizarre possibilities inside it
makes your head spin. Kevin Smith's films are a coin toss, you never
know if it'll be good or bad and it has little to do with how the
previous or next movie rates.
Dogma is one step up from Chasing Amy and the best of the bunch. With an awesome story, a nicely crafted set of characters, and their respective places in the plot line that come together like fitting puzzle pieces. Dogma is almost ingenious, and yes a movie from the same man that brought us Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. For starters you have a plot with a purpose; this isn't some generic Disney-esquire story of gaining faith with a miracle or some similar crap. You have unforeseen twists and turns. You have characters popping up that all play an important role, and they're all interesting. There's no generic roles either (guardian angel or what have you), as all these characters are a takeoff from what is actually in the bible or have their place in the "askew-niverse." The story is insanely cool, you wonder how a person could come up with something this intriguing. There's tons of mainstream actors, and none of them butcher the film like you might expect. The only character/actor I don't like in Dogma is Salma Hayek; she is beyond annoying and they could have at least made her change her accent and tone down that annoying personality for this role. If there's one downfall with this movie, it's her.
Otherwise, there's hilarity, there's ideas that make you think, there's oddity yet sensibility, there'a focus on religion that can even keep an atheist like myself interested, there's Jay and Silent Bob, and above all there's a plot that keeps your eyes open and an ending just as perfect as the whole rest of the movie.
If you aren't too sure where you stand with Kevin Smith films, or was disappointed with Clerks II or J&SBST, or are just looking for a good movie that will keep your mind awake and engaged and entertained, Dogma is a must-see.
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