Kevin Smith is full of himself. I came to this conclusion after seeing Chasing Amy a couple years ago. I had avoided his first two films and caught Amy shortly before filming Foreign Correspondents in order to see what other filmmakers were doing with budgets similar to mine. I walked out of Amy thinking, "I just watched some so-so actors mouthing so-so dialogue – but it didn't seem at all like I was looking at real life or real people." The problem is, I believe Smith actually believed he was capturing real life, instead of churning out a bunch of hogwash.
Nevertheless, I looked forward to Dogma simply because the trailer made it look like an imaginative outing. By movie's end, however, I had come to a new conclusion: Kevin Smith is an amateur. There's nothing wrong with that per se, but after four years, he still doesn't know how to pace a film, where to put a camera, how to get an engaging performance out of an actor, or even how to tell a story.
The plot: two fallen angels (Ben Affleck and Matt Damon) learn that they can get back into heaven through a loophole that the Catholic Church has just introduced. All they have to do is find a particular church in New Jersey, walk through its doors, and they're free. Naturally(?), this proves the fallibility of God, and will supposedly negate all existence. So another angel (Alan Rickman) comes to earth to recruit a lapsed Catholic-turned-abortion clinician (Linda Fiorentino) to stop the fallen angels. Various wackos join her on her quest. And the audience has to endure endless scenes of "revisionist" religious banter.
Here's why I consider Smith an amateur: he keeps doing the same things that I saw countless guys doing back when I was in film school, in that a) he thinks he has something really important to say, b) he thinks he needs a lot of dialogue to say it, and c) he doesn't think anyone else has said it before him. It was bad enough when he was trying to educate the world about his brilliant discoveries about human relationships in Chasing Amy. Now he thinks he's the first guy to come up with such "radical" ideas like, What if God's a woman? What if Jesus was black? Ho hum. Dogma may find its fans amongst angst-ridden high schoolers, but I'd hope the rest of us are too grown-up to buy into it.