Unusually high expectations are the bane of movie makers everywhere. They
nearly succeeded in killing the new Star Wars film, they caused people to
expect "The Mummy" to belong to a different genre, and they will most likely do
a good job of killing Kevin Smith's latest outing, "Dogma". I must admit, I am
guilty of having my expectations up a little too high, mainly because I so
vastly enjoyed Smith's previous outings. So it is entirely possible that my
review of this film is a tad biased.
Loki (Matt Damon) and Bartleby (Ben Affleck) are two angels who have been
banished from heaven. However, they have just found a loophole in Catholic law
which will permit their return to paradise. The catch is, if they succeed, all
existence will be wiped out because God will have been shown to be fallible.
The universe's only hope lies in the hands of Christ's descendent, Bethany
(Linda Fiorentino). Bethany will be assisted by two prophets named Jay and
Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith), and the 13th apostle, Rufus (Chris
Rock). Working against them are the demon Azrael (Jason Lee), three kids with
hockey sticks (dont ask), and the pair of angles themselves.
If there is one thing that Kevin Smith will be known for (other than for
playing the hilarious Silent Bob), it is his ability to write witty dialogue.
While "Dogma" certainly has its moments of wonderful dialogue, it is marred by
long spans of rather dull talk regarding the nature of religion. The comic
dialogue here is at its best when coming from Jason Mewes, who plays the
recurring character from Smith's previous three films and from Alan Rickman as
the voice of god, Metatron.
The cast here is really quite good. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon appear to be
having a tremendous amount of fun with their roles, Chris Rock is amusing as
the bitter, forgotten apostle, and Salma Hayek is delightful, as always, in a
turn as the muse, Serendipity. In fact, the only person who seems out of place
here is Linda Fiorentino. While normally a competent actress, she never seems
particularly comfortable with her role here and delivers her lines in a
particularly bored fashion.
While the film has been vastly criticized for its assaults on religion, I found
them to be nothing more than playful jabs at those who are too set in their
ways. The problem with this movie isn't its religious content, it's the fact
that the jokes here are few and far between. Smith seems more concerned with
trying to convey a moral message about understanding and the true meaning of
religion than he does with making the film comical. While the message is all
well and good, it isn't why most audiences are going to this film.
"Dogma" runs far too long at 130 minutes. In fact, I found myself drifting off
several times during this exessively lengthy film. Due to this and the lack of
humor, I'm forced to give "Dogma" two and a half stars and a recommendation to
wait for video if you're really wanting to see it
Feel free to e-mail with comments at: JABII@aol.com
* * * * * - One of the greatest movies ever made, see it now.
* * * * - Great flick. Try and catch this one.
* * * - Okay movie, hits and misses.
* * - Pretty bad. See it if you've got nothing better to do.
* - One of the worst movies ever. See it only if you enjoy pain.
Copyright © 2000 John Beachem