Author Topic: Films: Dogma (1999), Highlander (1986)  (Read 3024 times)

Offline Tony Williams

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Films: Dogma (1999), Highlander (1986)
« on: December 19, 2010, 03:26:02 am »
I was pointed towards Dogma in an SFF discussion forum, so I gave it a spin recently. The plot of this comic fantasy is novel: two fallen angels (Ben Affleck and Matt Damon), living as humans in present-day USA after having been banished by God long ago, conceive a plan to get back to Paradise. The problems are that if they succeeded this would prove that God is fallible, and thus cause the end of all creation; and that God, who could stop them easily enough, has gone missing while in disguise, somewhere on Earth. To help prevent disaster, God's spokesman (Alan Rickman) recruits a woman (Linda Fiorentino) who, unknown to herself, is the last scion of the family of Jesus of Nazareth. She is tasked with stopping the angels, with the aid of an assortment of dubious characters.

This is the excuse for a lot of rather heavy-handed and sometimes crude humour, mostly at the expense of religion in general and the Roman Catholic Church in particular - I gather that it prompted protests from Catholics in the usual Pavlovian manner. Subtle it ain't, but it fires enough comic shots for a number of them to score hits. All in all, worth watching if you are in the mood for some broad humour, unless you are religious and of a sensitive disposition.

I've been meaning to watch Highlander for years, but have only just got around to it. The story of the accidental immortal Connor MacLeod (played by Christopher Lambert) who spends centuries battling the Kurgan, another immortal warrior, must be well-known by now. Two plot threads run in parallel with the scenes flipping between them; one in the sixteenth century, when Connor first discovers he is immortal and is trained by fellow-immortal Ramirez (played by Sean Connery) and one in 1985 when the climactic battle takes place.

I have to say that I was rather dissatisfied. There are yawning plot holes, with no attempt at any explanation for what is going on and why. Lambert makes a broodingly impressive hero but the Kurgan is a cardboard cut-out villain and the rest of the cast (except Connery) are unmemorable. I found the background pop music jarringly inappropriate, and the whole film rather pretentious and overblown. It compares badly with some of the more recent superhero movies. I gather it has cult status and is highly regarded compared with the sequels, so I won't be wasting time on themů

(An extract from my SFF blog)

Anthony G Williams homepage and SFF blog

Offline LouM

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Re: Films: Dogma (1999), Highlander (1986)
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2010, 08:16:19 pm »
I like Dogma (now there's something you never thought you'd hear me say  ;D)

The humour's a bit much some of the time (the Golgothan lurches to mind) but it is a Kevin Smith film, after all. I enjoy the absurdities, and I think there's some inspired casting. The thing that really does work for me about it - and without which the whole film would fall apart - is the relationship & chemistry between Loki & Bartleby - Damon and Affleck.

Offline mightyjoeyoung

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Re: Films: Dogma (1999), Highlander (1986)
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2011, 02:51:58 pm »
Can it really be a quarter of a century since I ducked into the town hall cinema on a wet Wednesday evening out of sheer boredom to see a film called Highlander? Back in the day I watched almost every film that cinema showed which took my fancy, (omitting chick-flicks and westerns) often several a week. I didn't much like the idea of what appeared from the poster to be a historical drama. Like I said, it was raining, I was bored. I got lucky.

Mr Williams, you said you'd been meaning to watch Highlander for years, but have only just got around to it. That's a shame because you've had 25 years of other influences such as the recent slew of superhero fayre for comparisons.

True there are yawning plot holes et cetera, but I can forgive them on the grounds of originality and the story coming from a student's project. You found the background pop music (a Queen soundtrack) jarringly inappropriate, yet this was made for and by the MTV generation, director Russell Mullcahy was a very well known pop-video director (Duran Duran's 'Wild Boys' and Ultravox's 'Vienna' among his works as well as 'Video killed the radio star', the first video shown on MTV). Of course it compares badly with some of the more recent superhero movies as it's a child of its time. The cheesy special effects were as good as you could get in 1986 with a budget of $16m (compare to 1978's Superman, with a budget of $55M). It's also worth remembering that only three years beforehand Michael Jackson's Thriller video was aired after midnight because of the gory content, so a film with random decapitations was a rare treat. It does have cult status because quite frankly there was nothing like it at the time, and like with most things, you never forget your first. If it had been better marketed with more appropriate advertising and a more interesting review from Barry Norman, it might have done far better. As it stands it has proven to be a hard act to follow even within its own sequels which were butchered by poor hurried scripts and an assortment of bad decisions from the film studios involved.

It's a shame you didn't watch it in '86. You might have loved it.

Offline Ash Hartwell

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Re: Films: Dogma (1999), Highlander (1986)
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2011, 09:32:44 am »
I loved Dogma. It pokes at religion with a stick them when it gets no reaction it just beats it about the head. The cast is accomplished and there are some well written scenes. The story does ramble but that's Kevin Smith's style. He seems to make it up as he goes, and generally get's away with it. For me it is a cult classic

Highlander. Agree that it is a film that has not aged well. Back in 1986/7 it was original, clever and probably destined for cult status. Then they tried to cash in and ruined the whole project.