End of DaysThe trailer implies an eerieness that the film almost captures, but falls far short. Unlike Bruce Willis in Sixth Sense (reviewed in the James Bond Special last month) Big Arnie has not made the transition to suspense thriller, and this film is basically nothing more than a gothic action-thriller, an Arnie-fest with a slice of horror mixed in.
The film starts by showing Arnie holding a gun to his head (a la Lethal Weapon). Reminded by his sidekick (Kevin Pollock, with costume and lines befitting The Usual Suspects) that he has a job to do (ex-cop turned Bodyguard) he makes himself breakfast; a hi-protein bodybuilder drink with many disgusting ingredients thrown into a blender. Even a slice of pizza dropped on the floor goes right in. And that is what this film is - a bizarre concoction of so many different ingredients.
If you have to steal, you may as well steal from the best - but it should be improved upon, not blatantly flaunted as in a Leslie Nielsen pastiche.
The villain of the piece is not the usual evil entity that so often appears in these days of Political Correctness and multiculturalism. No, this is the Judeo-Christian devil, from a hot and fiery hell deep underground. Worse than that, it is the strict Roman Catholic interpretation of good and evil. Remember, those who do not follow the teachings of the one true Church are heretics who will burn in hell - even if they are good people who live decent lives.
DogmaThis is most definitely NOT Life of Brian. Indeed, it is anything BUT controversial. Some people might sneak in to see it on a Sunday, as this reviewer did, and STILL feel they had failed to do sufficient blasphemy for the day.
The fact this film starts with a disclaimer is a bad sign. Then we are given a wonderful atheist interpretation of the poem The Walrus & the Carpenter in Lewis Caroll's Through the Looking Glass - before descending into the doldrums of papal acceptability.
The problem is simple. Kevin Smith's movies usually centre around a pair of slackers called Jay and Silent Bob, the latter played by Smith himself. And this film is no exception. Ben Affleck, villain of Mallrats , is back - this time with best buddy Matt Damon, to play a pair of renegade Angels called Bartleby and Loki.
Bartleby and Loki want to re-enter heaven, but to do so will create a paradox that will destroy the universe. Jay and Silent Bob team up with the last descendant of the Virgin Mary ( Linda Fiorentino ), the voice of god angel Metatron (Alan Rickman - Harry Potter ), Serendipity the Muse ( Salma Hayek ) and the 13th disciple (Chris Rock - The 5th Element ).
However, the plot itself is far from controversial, except perhaps in the USA. Fiorentino's character works in an abortion clinic (this reviewer's view is perhaps closest to Jay's, who thinks it is a great place to pick up loose women). Rock's character was left out of the bible because he was black, as was Jesus ... Only in the USA would these be issues. Jehovah chooses a woman's form to appear in - Alanis Morissette - although sexist priests call it him. Hmm. So f*cking what?
The events along the way are similarly lacklustre - and the film is only interesting when Jay & Silent Bob or Loki & Bartleby are on-screen. Yes, Kevin Smith seems to have reached the limit of his abilities. Cool dialogue between laid-back 20-something slackers, yeah - but meaningful, controversial film-making? Sorry, no deal.
An example of just how stagnant this film is, compared even to UK fare? The slacker character Jay spends the entire movie trying unsuccessfully to seduce all the female characters. And because this is a mainstream USA movie we know there is NO chance of him getting lucky. Now, contrast this with recent UK production Guest House Paradiso which ends with the two despicable losers Eddie and Richie getting regular fellatio from the Renault supermodel! If Smith had been willing to do things the UK way for his film, he could have let Jay get fellated by Salma Hayek's character!
Return to the Winter Solstice 1999 Special Page.