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Dogma


Reviewed by: Rachel Hughes
Genre: Comedy
Video: Widescreen Anamorphic 2.35:1
Audio: Dolby Digital 5:1, Surround Sound/ English
Language: English French and Spanish
Subtitle: English French and Spanish
Length: 2hrs 8mins
Rating: R
Release Date: June 26, 2001
Studio: Columbia/Tristar
Commentary: Two Cast and Crew commentary featuring Director Kevin Smith, Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, Jason Mewes, Producer Scott Mosier and View Askew Historian Vincent Pereira, and Technical Audio commentary with Kevin Smith, Scott Mosier and Vincent Pereira.
Documentaries: None
Featurettes: None
Filmography/Biography: For Director and Cast
Interviews: None
Trailers/TV Spots: Original Theatrical Trailer
Alternate/Deleted Scenes: 16 deleted scenes
Music Video: None
Other: "My Opinion," "Don't Play This Movie," Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash Spot, Storyboards, and Outtakes
Cast and Crew: Cast Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Linda Forentino, Salma Hayek, Jason Lee, Alan Rickman, Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes and Chris Rock
Screenplay by: Written by Kevin Smith
Produced by: Scott Mosier
Directed By: Kevin Smith
Music: Howard Shore
The Review: "Dogma" is the story of two angels, Loki (Matt Damon) and Bartleby (Ben Affleck) who have been banished from Heaven by God and are forced to spend all eternity in Wisconsin. Azrael (Jason Lee), another fallen angel banished to Hell, has found a way to get the angels back into Heaven by taking advantage of plenary indulgences by passing through a church in New Jersey and receiving forgiveness. However, Azrael fails to tell them that if they go through with the plan they will undo the fabric of the universe. To stop them, the Metatron (Alan Rickman), the Voice of God turns to Bethany Sloane (Linda Fiorentino), the last Scion. To aid her in her quest she will be joined by two prophets (Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes), Rufus (Chris Rock), the 13th Apostle, and Serendipity (Salma Hayek), a muse. They must beat the angels to New Jersey and stop them from entering the gate. When first released this film was lambasted by the Catholic Church. Others said it was disrespectful to religion in general. They must have been watching a different movie. Sure the film points out some embarrassing observations about organized religion, but for the most part they are painfully accurate. This movie wouldn't destroy anyone's faith, but may actually strengthen it. The message about God and Jesus is one that they are there and they do love us, no matter what stupid things we do in their names. We just get so caught up in a rigorous belief structure that we have lost sight of the message. As Serendipity says; we do not celebrate our religion, we mourn it. Besides having a message the film also has some top-notch performances from some great actors. The film was cast before Affleck and Damon won their Oscars for "Good Will Hunting," so Smith looked like a casting genius. Chris Rock, Linda Fiorentino and Salma Hayek's movie careers were taking off. The veteran player here is Alan Rickman.
Image and Sound This is perhaps one of Smiths most visually traditional film. This print is better than watching the film on VHS, but when compared to other DVDs, it isn't quite up to snuff. The quality varies throughout the film. There are parts that are crisp and clean. The colors are sharp and the blacks come through well. However on other shots, mainly the wide shots, the colors seem to fade and become soft and fuzzy, while the edges become blurry. There are also a few instances of grain and artifacts on the transfer, but these are not so bad they distract from the enjoyment of the film. Overall this wasn't a bad transfer, but it was not quite as good as we are accustomed to. The sound was much better. As all of Smith's other films, "Dogma" is a dialogue-driven film. However, this film also has more action so your speakers will have something to do. Most of the dialogue is heard through the center speakers. The only complaint is that at times it is a bit soft. The track makes good use of the split surrounds, though it is used rather subtly to create engaging ambient surroundings. The main scenes where your speakers get to do the most are: the arrival of Metatron, the introduction of Serendipity and the Golgothan, the fight on the train, and the final battle. There is also a 2.0 mix on this disc. However since the film is so centered on dialogue there is little difference between this and the 5.1 version. So if you do not have 5.1 capability don't worry, you aren't missing anything.
The Extras Based on the incredible packages put together for Smith's other films, "Clerks," "Mallrats" and "Chasing Amy," fans were expecting great things from Dogma when it was first released in May of 2000. However they were greatly disappointed when a bare-bones disc was released. Kevin Smith announced that a special edition was coming in the near future. Thirteen months later the special edition has finally arrived. Thankfully it was well worth the wait! "Dogma: Special Edition" is two-disc set. On the first disc there is the movie itself and the two commentary tracks which I will go into more detail about them later. There are two other small extras on the main menu. Down on the right hand side there is "My Opinion" featuring Harriet Wise. Ms. Wise also gives different bits of "advice" whenever you select any of the sections of the first disc. The second extra is when you "Buddy Christ" is selected there is a bubble that says "Play Movie." If you move left there will be another bubble that says, "Don't Play This Movie" and here there are text messages with useful everyday advice on how to live a good life. There are several different ones, so you should select it often. The second disc is where the best stuff is located. "Dogma" features the most extensive collection of deleted scenes of all of Smith's other films. There are a total of 16 deleted scenes that run for well over an hour. Smith and Vincent Pereira introduce each scene with appearances by Jason Mewes as well as Smith's wife and daughter. These segments are almost as funny as the clips themselves. One of the highlights of the deleted scenes is the "Fat Albert" dance and singing scene performed by Jay and Silent Bob. Several of the scenes give more detailed information on various characters backstories, the wonderful performances of George Carlin and Jason Lee's that were left on the cutting room floor due to length. Next there are three storyboards. These are rough sketches drawn on a torn legal pad. They feature the Mooby Sequence, the Triplet Attack Sequence and the No Man (Golgothan) Attack Sequence. The most interesting is the Mooby Sequence, which is where Loki kills all the Mooby board members. The movie received a lot of publicity about being too violent, but what was actually shot was extremely toned down. Also included are 13 minutes of Outtakes. These mainly feature the actors laughing uncontrollably, which is always contagious so you'll laugh too. There are some wonderful outtakes concerning Loki's rant on religion and sex in "Star Wars." The oddest extra is found all the way on the top left hand corner called Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash Spot. This is a hammy commercial for View Askew merchandise. It runs for about a minute and a half and is quite funny. To round out the extras there is the original theatrical trailer and the Cast and Crew Filmography section. The Filmography section is one of the most interesting ones I have seen. It is listed under Saints and Sinners and each actor has there own "trading card." You can read a short biography about the actor and see a selected filmography. The final extra is one many people overlook. On the inside of the DVD case is the standard flyer that comes with the movie. They generally have a chapter list. This one also has an essay written by Kevin Smith about the filming of "Dogma." He explains everything behind his ideas for the film. This is a wonderful addition because it is always nice to get the writer's point of view of what the film was supposed to mean.
Commentary There are two commentaries: Cast and Crew commentary and a Technical commentary. The Cast and Crew commentary can be viewed in two ways. The first is just the straight commentary. The second is with the follow Buddy Christ for more hijinks with the cast and crew. Here, similar to "Mallrats" and "Matrix" a small picture of Buddy Christ appears in the lower corner and if you hit enter you will be taken to video clips of the commentary session. There are about 32-and-a-half minutes with over nine different segments. These can be found in the following chapters: 1, 4, 9, 12, 21, 22, 24, 26, and 28. The only drawback is when the clip is over the movie skips backwards a few seconds. However the commentary can be viewed with or without this feature. The commentary itself is typical of the other Smith films. There isn't much talk about the action on the film. As with any commentary with this many participants all the talking is done by one or two people. Smith and Affleck, who have a great rapport, dominate this one. While there is abundant humor here, most of it is self-depreciating of the acting and the movie itself. They do tend to stray off subject quite easily, talking about their favorite television shows and what they are going to do after the session. Pereira tries desperately to get everyone back on the subject of the movie, but rarely succeeds. While there isn't much information about the movie itself this track is worth listening to. Apparently the Producer, Scott Mosier, wasn't happy with the informal first commentary track and wanted a more informative track. Luckily for the fans, he got his way. The Technical Commentary has all the behind-the-scenes information we come to expect from the film. Just because this is listed as a technical commentary doesn't mean it focuses solely on camera angles or sound methods. Here you also find out about casting, location spots and interesting stories about making the film itself. This track is a wonderful contrast to the first. It shows that while all the participants are full of irreverent humor, they also know quite a bit about filmmaking. It would have been wonderful to have such informative tracks on Smith's other films. It is interesting to point out that the commentaries were censored. They left in all the swearing, but took out any negative reference to Disney/Buena Vista, which was originally supposed to release the film.
Final Words: This DVD was certainly worth the wait. This two-disc set has almost everything one could want. I say almost because there are a few things that would have made this a perfect package. First Smith mentions an Anamatronic for a Hosties cereal commercial that was ultimately never shot. It may be on their somewhere, but I couldn't find it. The other one was "In Defense of Dogma." This 40-minute piece looked at the controversy that surrounded this film. However the rights to this is owned by Disney and therefor not included here. Besides these small omission this DVD package is a must for any Kevin Smith Fan. For those that couldn't wait and bought the original release this one is worth the upgrade.


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June 25, 2001