Dogma is not for everyone. It pokes fun
at almost every conceivable group around.
I have been following the directorial career of Kevin Smith for several years now. I was enthralled by his ‘Jersey Trilogy’ and looked forward with great anticipation to his latest work, Dogma. As with all of Smith’s films. Dogma is not for everyone. It pokes fun at almost every conceivable group around. True to Smith’s style, Dogma has a simple plot but the enjoyment is found in the characters and the situations they find themselves in. Bethany Sloane (Linda Fiorentino) works at an abortion clinic. She is also a Catholic. She attends mass each Sunday but her faith is missing. One night she finds herself visited by Metaron (Alan Rickman), the angel that speaks for God Almighty. He tells her that she must go to New Jersey and stop a couple of fallen angels from entering a church. It seems that these angels were banned from heaven and cast to earth for punishment, well, actual to Wisconsin. They found a loophole in Catholic dogma that will permit them to get back to heaven, plenary indulgence. This is where any that enter this church will automatically have their sins forgiven. The only trouble is this will prove God wrong and all existence will disappear. Along the way Bethany picks up some rather strange characters including two drug dealers Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mews and Kevin Smith). These two characters have appeared in every one of Smith’s movies and some dialogue helps to tie them to the other Smith films. They also meet Rufus, (Chris Rock) the 13th apostle that was left out of the Bible because he is black. Add to this Serendipity (Selma Hayek) a muse that took human form but now works as a stripper and Azrael (Jason Lee) a demon bent of the world’s destruction and you have a great cast of fascinating, albeit strange, characters.
The acting carries Dogma. Fiorentino is imaginative as the belabored woman that must face a crisis of faith amidst such bizarre company. She plays much of the role in a rather flat style be her performance comes alive as her character is forced to face a new reality. Matt Damon and Ben Afflick as the banished angles play their roles to the hilt. Often over the top they truly seem to enjoy the characters and have a lot of fun with them. There is even some interesting selections for some of the lesser roles such as comedian George Carllin as the Cardinal trying to boost Catholic attendance ("If we only had the numbers the tobacco companies had") and popular singer Alanis Morissette as a playful, almost childlike God. The performances of this film held my attention, made me laugh and just plain old fashion entertained me. The performances keep this controversial film from drifting off the mark.
Kevin Smith (not the one from Xena) is a strange director. He loves Star Wars, comics, New Jersey and hanging out with his friends. All this is evident in all of his films. He uses the same actors in his films because he knows them and trusts that they will flesh out their characters. At times his humor is very subtle, other times it hits you over the head with the joke. When Dogma was released in the theaters many Catholics protested it. Smith actually joined the protesters in mufti. This odd mixture of a man provides us the viewing public with a good time in all of his films. (Some say Mallrats tanked but I liked it!!). Smith does not rely upon a grab bag of cinematic tricks. He is very straightforward in his direction. The lighting and camera angles are well done and make this director someone who will continue to go in his craft.
The Dogma disc is fairly plain vanilla. Unlike other Smith films on DVD there is no commentary. There are theatrical trailers and star bios but nothing else. The Dolby 5.1 sound is excellent. The sound field provides full depth to the film. The anamorphic video transfer in full 1:2.35 widescreen is bright and never falters. If you are a Smith already there is no question that you must get this disc. If you never saw the Jersey trilogy, Dogma may help you get use to Smith’s off beat style.Review by Doug MacLean of hometheaterinfo.com
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