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Two mischievous angels who were kicked out of heaven, have figured out a way to get back in. Restoring ones soul by entering a new church is a part of the Catholic Dogma, and by restoring their souls, the angels could reenter heaven thus revealing a loophole. But their plan would prove God's imperfection thus erasing everything God had ever created. Jesus' last descendant is enlisted by Rufus, the unknown 13th Apostle to stop the fugitive angels. Along the way, she is aided by two prophets, Jay and Silent Bob.
For more about Dogma and the Dogma Blu-ray release, see Dogma Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on November 28, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Ben Affleck, George Carlin, Matt Damon, Linda Fiorentino, Salma Hayek, Jason Lee
Director: Kevin Smith (I)
» See full cast & crew
Dogma Blu-ray Review
The Catholic church, as well as religion in general, gets poked and prodded in Kevin Smith's often hysterically funny 'Dogma.'
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, November 28, 2009
You may have a love-hate relationship with either your chosen or, more likely, your inherited religion, but you have the luxury of certainty if you were indoctrinated into a faith early in your life. As an adult, after years of probably being forced to attend services for at least part of your upbringing, you have become absolutely certain your religion is: a) true or b) false or c) a fascinating amalgam of traditions and practices which are interesting from a sociological standpoint, but about which you really couldn't care less on a deeper, spiritual level. I personally don't have that kind of built in assurance due to a rather broad range of religious influences I was exposed to during my formative years. I'm the child of a mixed marriage, with one Jewish parent and one Christian. Adding to that hodgepodge of both religious and cultural influences was the fact that I was raised in my early years in Salt Lake City, back then even more a bastion of Mormonism than it is now. In fact, "history" in my fourth grade public school class was actually "Mormon history," and it included visits from the local Ward's ruling brethren. But even before I made it to public school, my parents, in a perhaps hysterical (in both senses of the word) attempt to keep me from the grasp of Joseph Smith's followers, put me in an Episcopalian parochial school for the first five years of my preschooling and elementary years, where I attended daily Mass and stared in horror at one of the most gruesome crucifixes I've ever seen, the centerpiece of my school's chapel. Is it any wonder I often say I'll believe anything you want me to just as long you'll leave me alone?
I actually envy those of you who have experienced only one religion, for better or worse, as that narrowness of exposure at the very least may keep you from outright confusion, at least the confusion that springs from seeing so many different sides of humanity's attempts to make sense of their place in the cosmos. But of course this partially tongue in cheek introduction doesn't take into account the confusion of believers in any given faith who have come through the years to a point where they don't really fall clearly into any of the three categories (true/false/don't care) I listed above, but are kept almost literally in limbo by the shifting sands of their personal psyches and their reactions to the vagaries of their individual lives. Enter Kevin Smith's rather brilliantly, if often hyperbolically, staged Dogma, a film which bristles with political and religious incorrectness, but which is a startlingly articulate (even for Silent Bob, who utters two words in the film) expose of the trials which believers and, yes, non-believers find themselves enmeshed in, either by their own design or, heaven forfend (literally), by the Deity's.
Dogma has so much dialectic stuffed into its two hour running time that it often plays like a screed, though a viciously hilarious one most of the time. Bethany Sloane (Linda Fiorentino) is an abortion clinic worker who is having a crisis of faith. When she's visited by the "voice of God," the angel Metatron (Alan Rickman), that only ups her personal ante, as Metatron informs her she is the "last scion," an individual with a very potent personal mission to keep existence from going "poof." The poofiness is due to two errant fallen angels, Loki (Matt Damon) and Bartleby (Ben Affleck), who have discovered a loophole in Catholic dogma which will allow them back into heaven on a technicality, after God had cast them out into the wilderness of Wisconsin. Along for this crazy ride are a gaggle of excellent cameos, including Chris Rock as the thirteenth (black) apostle, Rufus, Alanis Morrissette as God(dess), George Carlin as Cardinal Glick, a Catholic honcho who is spearheading a new marketing campaign for the religion, Salma Hayek as a muse cum stripper, and Jason Lee as the demon Azrael. All of this, plus Jay (Jason Mewes) and semi-Silent Bob (Smith himself).
Dogma works best when it pillories mankind's seemingly eternal delusion that God is bound by our laws and ideas, and not vice versa. In fact the fast moving debate between Affleck and Damon early in the film, as they discuss the loophole in Catholic dogma which will ensure their re-entry into heaven, is a marvel of egocentric human reasoning that if a church decrees something, who is God to argue? Other aspects of the film aren't quite that smart, but it all proceeds at such a manic pace that I doubt many viewers, especially Smith fans, are going to complain very loudly. Affleck and Damon are wonderful in self effacing roles, and Alan Rickman displays yet more of the endless range which seems to be at his beck and call. Rock is surprisingly subdued and Hayek really doesn't have much to do, frankly. Which brings us to Fiorentino. Once the "it girl," at least of B movies, her career has since been kind of spotty and she actually more or less disappeared for several years a little while after she made Dogma. Her delivery throughout the first two thirds of this film can only be termed as monotonal, with a lack of affect and "same old, same old" line readings that get actually annoying after a while. Whether this was a deliberate choice to evince a character in the throes of depression is anyone's guess, but it's off putting and seems especially ill conceived when Fiorentino's Beth suddenly leaps into actual emotive power late in the film. Fiorentino actually seems bored by the proceedings, even things as outrageous as angels, prophets and muses taking up residence in her own private road movie. In fact it's when the film goes slightly awry, with a sort of pre-DaVinci Code tangent, that Fiorentino finally finds her sea legs and injects some real human emotion into the proceedings.
Smith has repeatedly proven himself to be an uncommonly smart writer-director, even when he is both crafting and portraying patent dunderheads. There's a loving touch underlying the satire, and that keeps some of the most scabrous humor from inflicting collateral damage on the characters, whom the audience does come to care for, or the film as a whole. In several Monty Python-esque prelude text disclaimers before the film starts, Smith begs us to accept the film as parody and not to deluge him with hate mail (he evidently did receive death threats when the film was originally released in 1999). He specifically takes film critics to task for not having senses of humor. Hopefully that wasn't aimed directly at me, for I found Dogma not only laugh out loud funny, but amazingly thought-provoking as well.
Dogma Blu-ray, Video Quality
Dogma arrives on Blu-ray with a near perfect 1080p/AVC encoded transfer. While flesh tones are just slightly anemic throughout (especially Rickman's, who I assume was made up that way), the rest of the palette is suitably lifelike and very well saturated. There are some really strong dashes of color here, including everything from the deep crimsons of blood during Loki's frequent serial killing rampages (yes, this is a comedy, believe it or not), to the deep murky browns of the, well, the Pooh Monster (this is a family site, after all). While a couple of closeups of faces seemed awfully smooth, the overall look of the film didn't really argue for any massive DNR and I'll chalk up that lack of wrinkles to Botox. The only artifacting of any note I noticed is very late in the film, when Affleck and Damon reveal their chain mail suits of armor. There was minimal, though very noticeable, ringing around the tightly woven metal circles on their chestplates. Otherwise, this is an extremely crisp and clear transfer, with an excellently true to film appearance.
Dogma Blu-ray, Audio Quality
For such a talk-heavy comedy/fantasy, Dogma actually delivers a surprisingly robust TrueHD 5.1 mix, at least in some of the sequences. While the "everyday" segments are suitably directional and always clear as a bell, the film really comes to life with some foley effects and also the hyperbolic action sequences which crop up occasionally. Notice, for instance, when the skating Stygian triplets appear how the sound of flies buzzing wafts from channel to channel. Or in the two or three over the top shooting sequences, how bullet sounds fly from the rear channels to the front and back again, almost leading the viewer to an impulse to duck out of the way. During the train sequence, the exterior shots provide some great panning effects that will convince you you're standing in a field next to the passing behemoth. LFE gets a minimal, though effective, workout in scenes like the train passing and the shooting sequences. Dialogue is always excellently directional, and Howard Shore's nicely understated score is mixed well into the proceedings.
Dogma Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Several excellent extras supplement the main feature:
Dogma Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Religion is one of the thorniest subjects (no pun intended) any filmmaker can tackle. Kevin Smith might seem on the surface ill-equipped to handle a subject this complex and potentially controversial, and yet Dogma pulls few punches and actually manages to deliver several hearty belly laughs along the way. This is certainly no film for the politically correct crowd, but for free thinkers, it's an audacious and unusually thought-provoking endeavour.
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Dogma Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Dogma and Gattaca for Blu-ray on March 11th - December 31, 2007
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring 'Dogma' and 'Gattaca' to Blu-ray on March 11th. Both will be present in 2.40 1080p. 'Dogma' will feature cast and crew commentary, technical commentary, 100 min of deleted scenes (with intros), ...
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