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The problem with the Book of Mormon Movie is that it isn't cinema. It's
either a really expensive roadshow or a really bad made-for-TV movie. This
film has no business being shown in theaters. It is, in fact, the kind of
film that in the evangelical Christian market would have gone straight to
video, available for purchase by catalog. The only reason this film is on
the big screen is because the geographical concentration of Latter-day
Saints makes that feasible. But just because it's feasible doesn't mean it
should have been done.
As hoaky as I think Cecil B. DeMille's "The Ten Commandments" is, I have to give DeMille credit--he knew how to make a movie. He knew that you can't just put scenes from the Bible on screen. You have to play with the material, working biblical scenes into a unified narrative of your own creation, with a single dramatic trajectory carrying the audience through from start to finish. The makers of the Book of Mormon Movie didn't know to do that, or they were afraid to take the necessary liberties. They just put scenes from the Book of Mormon on screen. The result is a series of vignettes, not a unified narrative. There's no plot, no climax, no denouement. We just...well...plow through selected highlights of 1 Nephi and the opening chapters of 2 Nephi.
Why did Gary Rogers even bother making this film? I'm not a fan of turning the Book of Mormon into cinema in the first place. But if you're going to do it, do it right. Get ample funding. Get good writers. Do the research necessary to approximate the historical period. Take the liberties necessary to transform scripture into a cinematically interesting story. Don't just "put the Book of Mormon on the big screen."
A note, I am an active Latter-day Saint.
First the bad...
I doubt Jews in Jeresalem in 600 BC looked like Anglo-saxons. Please find people that at least look Jewish to play the parts of Jews.
The make-up; a white woman with brown make-up to make her look Aboriginal or Jewish still looks like a white woman with make-up.
This movie was low-budget, and it looked like it. Everything seemed artificial; costumes, sets, minatures, it felt cheap. It didn't seem aged are blended in.
Lehi preaching, it seems the only thing he says is "The City will be destroyed, don't you understand" over and over. Couldn't think of any other dialogue?
Where were the master or establishing shots? There were very few, they would have helped the movie feel more complete.
The language seems inconsitant, sometimes it's modern, sometimes it's King James English. Pick one and stick to it.
This movie came off as low-rent, this is especially noted when Nephi is struggling to get free from his binds and the audience is laughing, rather than sympathising. This is becasue some parts of the movie are cheesy and that results in the audience not taking it seriously.
Cheesy parts #1... the brothers getting shocked, should have just left that out. Makes it seems like Nephi has magic powers, comes off weak.
Cheesy parts #2... Lehi's fake beard, it changes once from long straight and grey to short curly white.
Cheesy Parts #3... The aging of the characters wasn't belivable.
Cheesy Parts #4... the voice of God depicted with a deep voice and allot of reverb, cliché. Find a new way to do this. How about a soft whisper?
Cheesy Parts #5... Lemuals re-action to the angel, supposed to be a serious moment but is laughable because of his reaction.
Cheesy Parts $5... The Lamanites at the end dancing around a fire with war paint. Comes off over the top.
Now the good...
The acting was good 95% of the time, Laman was the best acted in this film.
Laban being murdered, I really like how this was done (other than the clichéd treatment of the voice of God) and it had good emotion.
Nephi's vision of being shown was is to come, again good emotion, and good editing.
Montage while Nephi is bound, well done.
We get a good sense of the conflict between Nephi and Laman.
I thought that the added dialogue (stuff not from scriptures) was good and blended scenes well. I enjoyed the added homour and seeing Nephi and his brothers bond after having conflicts.
The Joseph Smith stuff I thought was well done, except Moroni's visit, just seemed out of place the way it was done.
Final word. Before the next one, take the time to secure more money and make it the way it should be, a grand epic. Pretty good job for a first time director and allot of first time actors. I wouldn't see this one again but I would see the next installment.
This project is something that many members of the LDS faith have
wanted to see in motion picture form. Gary Rogers had the guts to step
up and actually do it. Was this a good idea? Should a 'golden book' be
made into a movie with a 'copper budget?'
Well it was done. The result is something extremely controversial. The Book of Mormon Movie, Volume 1 the Journey has pros and cons. What is good about the movie is Noah Danby (Nephi). That man can act! He can cry on the queue and make a stunt move that looks painful. Mark Gollaher (Lemuel) isn't so bad either! The rest of the cast have their moments but are weak or sappy most of the time.
The miniatures by Clark Shaffer, who has work for I.L.M. for years, are well done. The models are large (the great and spacious building was about 5 five feet tall!) and highly detailed. The shots with Jerusalem and the boat are forced perspective shots (bringing the model close to the camera, then the people further away, and using a special lens to focus it correctly). And some of them worked while others did not. The compositing was done well most of the time, with the exception of a close up of Nephi and the blurred figures in the background have a sharp edge against the ocean.
The music is good at parts but needed to conform to a Middle East feel rather than the Russian feel I believe it had. This could be done by being in a different key and using different instruments.
My favorite scene was when Nephi collapses in the desert and there is a rush of images and powerful sound in a 'Gladiator' type of moment. It catches the film up to that point in an interesting well done editing moment.
The biggest problems were:
Too much voice over!!! The reason that some people feel that the movie is 'slow paced' is not because it is slow paced at all. It actually covers a lot at the end with a fast pace. It drags, and the reason it drags is because Nephi narrates half the time while you see a slide-show of events.
The Automatic Dialog Replacement (ADR) did not match up. In other words you can tell when it was dubbed. And the sound quality was poor. This project was done on 24p High Definition cameras, the same cameras Lucas used for Episode 2, and the print job to 35mm film was not good. It lacked a full range of values and color. It was grainy at parts and doesn't look as clean as the HD source.
Some of the things important to the story were skipped; how did Nephi convince Ishmael and his family to leave into the wilderness? How did the boat get to sea and how did they land?
The costumes where lacking in quality and for some reason there are more fat people in Jerusalem than actual middle-eastern people. Most of all the camera angles lacked in creativity and greatness (I admit that I did like a couple of shots and the helicopter shots were cool). There are a lot of jump cuts because of lack of any other angle to cut to, mostly a big lack of coverage. This is due to many factors including: a low budget, a limited 30 day production shoot, and an underpaid crew.
The worst scene was probably the one between Sariah and Ishmael's wife. It was over dramatic and the dialog is feeding back story information to the audience. That isn't the best way to establish their closeness.
What's amazing that the budget was stretched beyond it's limits and that this thing actually got through production and post production and into theaters, unlike Richard Dutcher's Joseph Smith project. After seeing this one I have faith that Gary will make the next one better. And don't think that you'll see a big budget 'Mormon Movie' not put out by the LDS church, if The Book of Mormon Movie was made for $40 million, or anything else considered big budget, it would never make the money back. It's just too small of an audience. The reason the LDS church can put out movies like 'The Testements' is because they can fund the production and the people working on it well.
Personally I am not a fan of these 'Mormon Movies.' But this is what a lot of people asked for so this is what they get.
Please, please, please, please, PLEEAAASE DO NOT MAKE ANY MORE OF THESE
Your hearts are in the right place, I don't doubt that at all, but you are in way over your head with this!
If I had never read the Book of Mormon before, after watching this movie, I wouldn't want to!
You're costumes looked like they were borrowed from the Manti Pageant. The make-up looked ridiculous. The acting was amateurish, not to mention the directing. And the writing just plain SUCKED! And what the hell was up with that wedding dance scene?
You are doing a major disservice to the Book of Mormon and the LDS faith by making these movies.
Come on, to take on something as epic as the Book of Mormon on such a miniscule budget is at best, laughable, at worst sacrilegious. Even John Huston knew to only take on the first part of Genesis when he made "The Bible."
Have you seen the movie "And God Spoke... The Making of."???
Your movie is essentially that. A biblical epic made on a B-movie budget and you guys are taking yourselves waaaaay too seriously!
I only hope you haven't done any permanent damage to Jacque Gray's career.
I saw the previews for this movie, and even though it looked really bad, I
thought I'd go check it out anyway. I don't usually listen to critics
seeing a movie, instead choosing to decide for myself.
I'm not a mormon, although I have read the book of mormon several times prior to seeing the movie, so I understood the storyline. However, my worst fears were realized when I actually saw this film. The acting was flat, and unintentionally funny at times. I really had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing once or twice. It felt like the filmmaker was trying to go for a massive cinema experience, but it just didn't work. It didn't flow like I had hoped. Overall, it just felt like a B-movie, and I left the theater wishing I could've gone back in time so that I wouldn't have to see it.
I suppose that people interested in seeing this film will do so, one way or the other, but I'd suggest watching something else instead. Besides, it will inevitably be shown on TV in Salt Lake eventually, and at least you won't have to pay to see it then.
I endured the Book of Mormon film at the Englewood last night. To
paraphrase Mark Twain's assessment of the book as "choloroform in
print," I'd rate this work as chloroform on celluloid.
Despite an opening title disclaimer from the LDS church, there were plenty of telltale embellishments of a Mormon production -- pretty, clean, crisp costumes, straight white teeth, Eurocentric looking actors, God as booming bass male voice, etc. I wasn't familiar with any of the actors, but movie lead Nephi was portrayed by a buff looking Greg Brady guy, an amalgam of Barry Williams and Lou Ferrigno. Laman was delightfully sinister. Lemuel had the voice of Chris Elliott which distracted me. Lehi was disgraceful and looked to be an understudy from the Olive Branch players. I was secretly relieved when the old patriarch died, but his deathbed scene was of predictable unpleasant duration.
Considerable Jerusalem intrigue as prelude to the Nephites blowing town, much not depicted in the opening of First Nephi, but I suppose it helped set the scene. Over an hour into the film and we'd yet to depart the book of First Nephi so I was getting pretty apprehensive about the epic running length. But this film, the first in a projected series, only deals with the first two books in the Book of Mormon.
Suitable for the kinderlach. Violent apex is some blood spattering on Nephi. Sexual situations limited to some provocative dancing by the Nephite women. Some pretty fetching halter tops on the sea voyage over.
The darkness of the bad brothers at this film's conclusion portrayed more tastefully than what I'd feared might be coming. They hadn't morphed into African-Americans, but rather had just taken on a browner hue, replete with savage makeup and behavior wailing around the campfire. A refreshing Joseph Smith portrayal to bookend the film, not the beautiful blonde boy we're often treated to in LDS depictions, but a more homely and believable farm boy. Angel Moroni in sore need of recasting. I know who the South Park producers used as their template now when they depicted this angel as a white Native-American.
I attended at the recommendation of an aged church Seventy who beamed about Hollywood production values. I questioned this initially upon watching the film, but then reminded myself that Saturday morning live-action series of my youth like Shazam, Mighty Isis, and the Banana Splits feature Danger Island were likely conceived in Hollywood. So sure, Hollywood production values. Actually there was one unique shot of Laman escaping the clutches of Laban in a long, uninterrupted run down stairs. Flying too fast for a Steadicam. So speedy it had to be mounted on a vehicle of some sort, but quite smooth.
Likely the best Book of Mormon film out there, but the competition's not too stiff. I wish someone with Mel Gibson money, although not his zest for sadism, would turn their film-making efforts to Joseph Smith's literary masterpiece. It might enhance understanding between mainstream Christians and the latter-day Saint tradition churches that sprung up in the 19th century. This film struck me as too boring an initiation ritual into the Book of Mormon, so leave your Goyim buddies at home.
Dirk Ellingson Independence, MO
Wow. I just got done seeing this movie, and I have to say, it was a dissapointment. I love the Book of Mormon, but this movie pretty much misses the mark on many levels. Poorly casted, the costumes were awful, the acting was fairly bad, the script was poorly adapted, the cinematography was flat and uninspiring, the movie was slow and very long. I just hope people do not go out to see this movie in order to see just what the "Mormons are all about". Please do not see this movie in substitution of reading the book. Don't use this movie as a followup, either. The power of this book is astounding, something the movie almost fails completely to do. It has one or two inspired moments, but that's it. Please, if you're interested in the Book of Mormon, contact missionaries or your LDS friends, you'll recieve a free copy from them.
I really wanted to like this movie; I love The Book of Mormon: Another
Testament of Jesus Christ. But the movie was like watching a low-budget
play. The musical score, which I heard prior to seeing the movie,
seemed moving, dramatic and even beautiful. But the movie missed the
ON THE OTHER HAND: those interested in celebrating (or even investigating) Mormonism would be FAR BETTER SERVED watching "The Work and the Glory" - which, while not as doctrinally "heavy" as the Book of Mormon Movie intended to be (and failed), is at least beautifully filmed, well-acted and is simply not painful to watch.
BTW I enjoy the Genesis Project effort to put OT & NT stories on film, sticking to the text. I'm not just against putting scriptural stories on film per se. But this "project" needs more work, and especially more thought.
This movie should have been better. It had the budget (small by
Hollywood standards, but large in the current LDS market) and a great
story, but as illustrated time and time again in cinema, money does not
translate to quality.
It is no wonder that Mormons are viewed as culturally unsophisticated, when sacred text is treated in such an amateurish manner and then defended by many in the LDS community. The real truth is that this is bad cinema and not a reflection of LDS expectations on a cinema representation of the story.
The script is poor, the acting is average at best, the direction is poor and the sets and costumes "laughable". This is neither a significant work nor a good representation of the Book.
I attended the movie with the best intentions of liking the movie and I desperately wanted my beliefs handled in a professional manner, one that I could take friends to and say it represented my faith. Unfortunately, it brings no credibility to the truth of the Book. I won't be taking any friends to see this one.
Sorry, but my recommendation is that no one see this. Maybe then the idea of a sequel will be squelched. Bring on talented LDS Producer/Directors! The story still hasn't been told well. I want to see LDS artists succeed, but it must be done better than this to be taken seriously.
Having read the Book of Mormon several times (many more times of First
Nephi - many LDS members will relate) I have to say that somehow much
was missed in the true spirit of the book. There were a few shining
moments, but they still paled in comparison to the genuine book. I
would like to say that this was a good movie and recommend it to
everyone, but I cannot honestly say this. I was among many that thought
it would be a good idea to bring these scriptures to life in movie
form, but when I actually saw this rendering I was disturbed. The
embellishments distracted from the text too much to be believable and
there were things in the text that should have been left in yet were
I am not going to say "Don't watch the movie" because there was a lot of good things in the movie regardless. You have to look beyond the low-budget production and mediocre acting to see what the producers and actors really tried to portray with this movie. I guess the thing that this (or any movie based on scripture) does is that it puts a face to the characters. Whether you thought these characters played their parts well or not is a matter of research and personal taste. No matter who you cast as these characters you are going to find disagreements in this matter. I do have to agree that Lehi was a disappointment as well as some of the other actors. I believe Nephi, Laman and Laban were done well for the most part. You have to remember though that the people who wrote the Book of Mormon were ordinary people, many with extraordinary commissions by nature of their callings (prophets, missionaries, warriors, etc.), not necessarily literary experts - this doesn't even take into account that they were writing in a language that was awkward for them to write because there was limited space on the plates.
Since there are inaccuracies and deviations from the original scripture in this movie, which I (and many other LDS church members) have been distracted by, you must really read the Book of Mormon and rely on that as your sacred scripture rather than this movie. It is certainly good that it draws people to reading the scripture that wouldn't have read it before seeing the movie, but for me after reading, studying and praying about the book I would have to say "read the book with intent to find the truth, but watch the movie for entertainment and enlightenment."
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