Friday, March 20, 2015

Dogma (1999)

Director: Kevin Smith
Writer:    Kevin Smith
Cast:       Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Linda Fiorentino

An abortion clinic worker (Linda Fiorentino) with a special heritage is called upon to save existence of humanity from being negated by two renegade angels, Loki (Matt Damon) and Bartleby (Ben Affleck), trying to exploit a loop-hole and reenter heaven. The voice of God (Alan Rickman) communicates to her that two prophets (Jay and Silent Bob) will help her and along the way they meet Rufus (Chris Rock), the thirteenth apostle. If you think the ensemble cast is not big enough, you got George Carlin playing a cardinal, Salma Hayek as muse and Alanis Morissette as God no less. 

I recently saw 'Noah' and it also involved some angels called 'Watchers' about which I had no idea despite having gone to Sunday School for a long time. Going to Sunday school might have had a strong influence on me becoming an atheist and face it, who the fuck would really want to spend half your Sunday on such a thing. Instead of the do-good stuff from New Testament, had they taught about the moody genocidal God from the Old Testament and the rebellions he/she faced from angels like Lucifer, it would have been more interesting. I guess it is not PG-13 stuff. Loki, Angel of Death, is the one who did the genocidal stuff for the God and when he was engineering a plague on God's orders, another angel Bartleby talked him out of it by making him feel guilty. They were banished for eternity from heaven to Wisconsin for their insubordination. When a cardinal (George Carlin) declares an arch from his church to be one which can cast away your sins upon crossing, the fallen angels see it as a way to reenter heaven. But since it would make God fallible, by making his curse redundant causing the whole existence to be negated,they have to be stopped and the film revolves around this.  

Kevin Smith really was on ball during the early part of his career and Dogma was his first really major film at least based on the Cast list even though it is strictly independent in spirit. It was his fourth film with Clerks, Mallrats and Chasing Amy coming before it. One could say he went off boil after Dogma but Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Clerks 2 were watchable nevertheless. His most recent film 'Tusk' was him coming back to form and he had admitted that he was thinking about packing it in altogether after making some thoroughly forgettable films. Looks like he is gonna be prolific again with two films in production (Yoga Hosers and Clerk 3) and another two announced. Hopefully the quality won't suffer for it.

Overall Dogma is a great watch but at over two hours it is lightly longer than it should be. I had seen it a long time back with it being the first one I saw from Kevin Smith and on re watch its quality does not drop. In fact it was more enjoyable second time round with plenty of jokes that you might have missed on first watch. It drew protests from the predictable quarters even before its release and Kevin Smith got two death threats for it. Even Kevin Smith joined the protests against the film and got himself interviewed doing it. The overall message of the film is that it is good as long as people see things as ideas rather than making a belief structure around it. Before filming, Kevin Smith warned Jason Mewes to be on his behavior because of the involvement of actors like Alan Rickman and Jason went on to memorize the entire script, according to his own words, so as not to annoy the 'Rickman dude'. 

Rating: 4/5