Plot: What’s it about?
Bartelby (Ben Affleck) and Loki (Matt Damon) were once glorious angels, but now they’ve been banished to Wisconsin, never to return to the splendors of heaven. But their stay in the Cheese State could be headed toward an end, as they’ve discovered a loophole in God’s word. If the two can pass through the doorway of a certain church, their souls will be renewed and when they perish, they will return to heaven. In the process, the word of God will be proven fallible and then, all of creation will vanish. In an effort to prevent this Rufus, the unknown 13th apostle (Chris Rock) has been sent to gather some help to stop Loki and Bartelby. He soon joins forces with Bethany (Linda Fiorentino) and the slackers Jay & Silent Bob, all of whom have some kind of connection to the issue, it’s just unknown what that is. Can this band of folks manage to stop the renegade angels before they undo God’s work, even with the aid of Metatron (Alan Rickman) and a gorgeous muse, Serendipity (Salma Hayek)?
This film was surrounded by controversy when it debuted, so when I sat down to watch it, I had certain expectations. In the end, I am unsure why it was so hammered by the various groups, as I think writer/director Kevin Smith plays it pretty safe here, much safer than I had figured on. But while Dogma is more mainstream and less offensive than expected, it is a pretty amusing movie and has some colorful performances. The waste of spaces Matt Damon and Ben Affleck aside, Dogma’s cast is terrific, including such names as Chris Rock, George Carlin, Salma Hayek, Jason Lee, and the great Alan Rickman, who is greatly underused here. As usual, Smith supplies a literate and often base screenplay, which is well performed by the able cast, at least for the most part. I think Rickman and Rock steal the show here and I wish they had more screen time, to be sure. This is the long awaited special edition of Dogma and while some expected features were dumped at the last second, this new dual disc release is more than worth the upgrade. The film is good, but this two disc set is great and as such, fans will not want to miss this release.
This film was written and directed by Kevin Smith, who has amassed a lot of fans in his brief filmmaking career. Although I don’t think he is the genius some of his fans claim, I think Smith is a solid writer, though his direction is substandard. I do think his film have a lot of humorous moments however, I’m just not as rabid as some of Smith’s fanbase. In Dogma, Smith has delivered his most sound film yet on a technical basis, but still comes across as an overblown, overly long picture in all respects. Smith writes some terrific sequences in Dogma, but not enough to justify the extended running time, if you ask me. Even so, Smith supplies enough humor to make it a worthwhile movie, though I think he would be better to suited just to write and allow someone else to helm the films. Other films directed by Smith include Clerks, Mallrats, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, and Chasing Amy. The cast here includes Ben Affleck (Armageddon, Pearl Harbor), Salma Hayek (Desperado, Timecode), Chris Rock (Lethal Weapon 4, Nurse Betty), Alan Rickman (Die Hard, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves), and Linda Fiorentino (Men in Black, Vision Quest).
Video: How does it look?
Dogma is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. As usual, Columbia/Tristar issues a terrific image and in this case, I saw very little flaws to report. The colors are smooth and vibrant, with no smears to be seen and of course, flesh tones are natural also. No complaints in terms of contrast either, black levels seem dead on and I saw no visible detail loss. I couldn’t pick up on any digital problems or print flaws either, this is an excellent visual presentation indeed.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included Dolby Digital 5.1 option is quite good, but due to the nature of the film, the surrounds aren’t used throughout. But some scenes do spark the surrounds and to great ends, so it isn’t like this is an active track, not in the least. I was impressed when it opened up and while that isn’t too often, it happens when needed and that’s what counts. The musical score sounds really good here also, while the dialogue remains clean and easy to understand also. This won’t be the track to demonstrate your home theater with, but it handles the material and that’s we can ask for really, I think. This disc also includes 2.0 surround tracks & subtitles in English, Spanish, and French, in case you’ll need those.
Supplements: What are the extras?
I was let down to see ViewAskew and Columbia/Tristar give in to Disney’s demands to remove the documentary here, but in the end, there’s still some cool stuff to explore, so this is not a losing situation, not by any means. The first disc contains two audio commentary track and as usual, one features Smith, as well as various cast & crew members. The session is humorous at times, but I prefer the more informative track, which provides more insight into the production. The second track features Smith and some crew members, which means a more serious look, but still amusing at times, to be sure. Whether you like technical sessions or you want real information, you’re covered with this release, as it includes both. You can also view the complete storyboards for three sequences, which is great news, as these aren’t included on DVDs as much as I would like. The meat of the features however, is one-hundred minutes of deleted scenes, which fans are sure to consume, given the wealth of excised material included. I wouldn’t say all of the scenes are that impressive, but it is quite cool to have them all tacked on here. This release also includes a special Follow the Buddy Christ feature as the flick plays, some talent files, a reel of outtakes, and of course, the film’s theatrical trailer.