Let's make fun of Catholics...it's bound to be funny!
Two Angels who were cast out of Heaven discover a loophole in the Catholic faith that would allow them to achieve instant, complete forgiveness, and therefore enter heaven. What they don't realise is that since this would contradict god, and god is, by definition, infallible, the ensuing paradox would unmake the universe.
Since God is currently missing, Metatron (the voice of god) asks Bethany, a Catholic and abortion doctor, to help stop the angels. She's helped by the two Prophets, Jay and Silent Bob, and hindered by the Stygian triplets, three hockey playing dead teenagers, who, as is revealed in a deleted scene, died on their way to a detention centre after smashing in a toddler's skull to see what it looked like.
One of the things I really disliked about Dogma was Linda Fiorentino's character, Bethany Sloane. She's a smug know-it-all, and despite having her beliefs continually proved wrong, still insists that she's right. Like the traditional fantasy character who insists that "It's not scientific," Bethany holds onto outdated and ignorant beliefs. For instance, when Jesus' siblings are mentioned, she says, "That's impossible, Mary was a virgin."
First of all, yes, Jesus was the result of an immaculate conception. At no point in the bible is it said or implied that she remained a virgin forever. Nevermind the fact that Jesus' siblings are actually mentioned in two out of four gospels. Do some research, for god's sake. There's nothing wrong with the actress, but the character seriously annoys me. Considering she's the one Catholic main character, having her so annoying and downright ignorant of her own faith is really an insult to the Catholic Church (although, to be fair, few real Catholics have actually read the entire bible). I don't consider her working in an abortion clinic as being ironic, considering that, if you actually read the bible (which I have, several times, which explains my strong opinion) it's not actually strongly for or against abortion. Anyway, to get back on topic, films like Saved! and the book, Plain Truth, at least had characters like Patrick and Samuel who represented the best version of their chosen faiths. Dogma has nothing like this, and I'm not surprised it's come under criticism for that reason.
Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, as, respectively, Bartleby and Loki, make a great duo. Although they only use it effectively in one scene, they have a good cop/bad cop relationship, the dynamics of which switch rather dramatically towards the end. Bartleby's feelings of rejection from God, and his homesickness come across at certain times, although the character attempts to hide it. Damon is the more comic character while Affleck plays the more serious role, and they complement each other well.
Salma Hayek, Chris Rock, and Jason Lee are all pretty good in their roles. Their performances aren't particularly notable – although Jason Lee does look very cool in his white suit – but they were, at least, believable. Alan Rickman, as the Metatron, often appears to be making fun of himself or the script, delivering the lines as if he doesn't believe them, let alone expects the audience to.
Visually speaking, the film isn't amazingly impressive. It's not bad, but it's unremarkable. Some images, such as the demonic attributes some character have are impressive, but the angel's wings look kind of shoddy and unrealistic.
Several scenes were cut, for no apparent reason, and these greatly detract from the film. The one which most stands out most is the scene Evil is an Abstract, which can be viewed on youtube or the special edition DVD. It shows why one of the characters, Azrael (Jason Lee) acts the way he does, and is one of the key moments of the film. It also, once again, shows Bethany's complete ignorance of her religion. And she calls herself a Catholic. The scene is Lee's best within the film, as well as being one of the key plot points, and its loss is only to the detriment of the film as a whole.
In summary, Dogma is pretty funny, but it's marred by the cheap shots it takes at religion, particularly Catholicism, without bothering to do any real research. It's not an intelligent film, and it's pretty insulting to any practising Catholic, but then it's no worse than any other stereotype filled film with no real substance.
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