Friday, April 25, 2008

Expelled was the worst movie I've seen in a damn while

...and I've actually seen the films of Uwe Boll, but we tackle one horror at a time.

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed opened last Friday in more than 1000 theaters nationwide, and if that fact alone sounds like a positive then it is the only one the film has going for it. The film aims to tackle the conflict between Science and Superstit-... I'm sorry, between Evolution and Creationism being taught in our schools, and in spite of the fertile ground for investigation and provocative nature of the subject matter, the film only managed a dismal 10% on, with "positive" reviews from decidedly Christian outlets, themselves acknowledging the film's lack of evidence provided for either side of the "debate."

Honestly, that 10% score is only as high as it is because so few outlets have actually reviewed it so far. Despite the relatively wide release for a documentary film, the producers had decided that they would allow no critic to screen the movie in advance for review purposes. Oh, there were screenings of the film for church audiences and others who elected to attend, provided they signed a lengthy Non-Disclosure Agreement and weren't affiliated with the press at all. One such screening attended "covertly" by Richard Dawkins became rather notorious for the producers, who had first claimed Dr. Dawkins was invited and then that he had "crashed" the screening, but so much has been made of this already I won't dwell on it too long.

The main theme of the movie is in three parts: Firstly, that the "fresh, new ideas" of Creationism/I.D. are being actively suppressed in the hallf of academia; Second, that this is because Evolution will not permit challenges to the theory, which is extremely flawed; and Finally, that Evolution leads to every evil that Christian Conservatives have been bred to fight since infancy. The movie however, as the Christianity Today review has pointed out, is extremely light on facts to back these claims up, relying mostly on testimony with a vested interest in promoting those ideas. provides a thorough catalog of the various untruths the film tells, and it turns out to tell alot. Fundamentally every claim in the film is a distortion of the truth through the lens of the Christian Conservative's pathological need to feign their own persecution at the hands of "Big Science" and "Big Atheism" and "Big Empirical Evidence and Rational Thought."

The conspiracy theorists' dream that permeates the film comes to a frothy head in the final act where not only is Darwinism to blame for the Nazi holocaust, but also Communism, Assisted Suicide, Planned Parenthood, Metrosexuality, and UFO conspiracy nuts, and no, I'm not exaggerating in the slightest, that's all actually in the damn film. The connections drawn are by necessity very loose ones, Darwinism leads to Social Darwinism exclusively due to the name (Social Darwinism is about selective breeding, or artificial selection, not the natural selection of Darwin's theory) which says some people are "less evolved" and can be killed without a thought, Planned Parenthood providing birth control and abortions to the poor is exactly like wiping out the destitute of German Schtetls with death squads, etc. Again, goes into more and better detail than I ever could, and is well worth a read in and of itself without having to see the garbage film that it successfully argues against.

But as nonsensical as the film's thesis is, its composition manages to be worse still. While the producers have blogged proudly about how much better they are than Michael Moore by not stooping to his tactics, one one "quest for answers" near the end of the film, a camera crew barges unannounced into the Smithsonian, only to be removed for what I have to assume are security reasons. (Gee, buncha guys with electronic equipment bumrushing a major tourist center in the middle of D.C., unannounced? Why would that be cause for alarm?) The film features segments spliced in from countless other films as well, and not simply newsreels of the construction of the Berlin Wall (as in the opening of the film) but also as overused underscoring, for instance a clip of the late Charlton Heston screaming "Damn Dirty Apes!" and another of the Wizard of Oz's "Pay No Attention..." line, used in the most predictable ways possible (these clips, incidentally, are shown as black and white in the film, in spite of being in color originally, and one week after seeing this film I'm still not certain why).

The Cinematography is some of the worst possible in a film too: Richard Dawkins is interviewed twice in the film (and thats another thing, for a movie ostensibly about Evolution not willing to debate Creationism, there are an awful lot of evolutionists conceding to debate it. Funny that) and in the first interview theres a shot, on screen, where basically all we see for a full two seconds is his nose in close-up. An interview with I.D.-advocate David Berlinksy has him reclined in a chair as he speaks, parallel with the ground, and the camera at knee-height, zoomed in on his face, allowing us to look directly up the man's nostrils. I understand shots like this can happen accidentally in the hands of even a skilled cameraman, of course, but any editor worth a damn should easily have been able to remove such shots, unless the producers actually thought highly of this shoddy camera-work. Their presence in the film, then, speaks unintentional volumes about the standard these people apply to their own work.

There is no criteria by which this can be judged a "good" film, unless you are among the deeply converted whom this film preaches to directly, in which case everything in the world proves the film to be an unqualified success! I've been trolling on Ray "Behold, the Atheist's Nightmare!" Comfort's blog for some time, and its been tragically hilarious how deluded one man can be, boasting exclusively about the 1000+ theaters the film opened in, not mentioning the average 10-person per showing ticket sales, and directly ignoring the near-universal panning in order to show weeks-old "reviews" from Focus on the Family and random people's blogs about how wonderful the film is. This a film born of self-delusion that works to propagate greater self-delusional behavior, and I cannot recommend enough that you utterly avoid paying to see it. If you absolutely must see it, it'll have another week in theaters, go buy a ticket to Forbidden Kingdom or Harold and Kumar or something, and first step into Expelled and see how long you can withstand the masochistic, moral pugnacity of the endeavor before stepping out for air.

1 comment:

  1. I see you've commented on Ray Comfort's blog too.

    Could you inform Ray of this challenge (he won't post my comments on his blog):


    I will pay Ray Comfort a sum of money that I have estimated is equivalent to Ray first offering Dawkins $10,000 if one compares the projected incomes of Ray Comfort to Richard Dawkins based on book sales.

    All Ray has to do is go to this blog post:

    ... and debate me for about fifteen comments or more if he wishes. Each comment must be under 2,000 words. Once the comment number hits fifteen, I will pay Ray his money no matter what he has said.

    No other comments will be allowed in that one post. It waits here for Ray alone.

    Ray may start the debate on any subject he wishes.

    If Ray refuses this offer, at least he'll understand why Dawkins isn't going for Ray's offer.

    No traveling or other expenses. That's it, and it's far less effort than he is asking of Dawkins.

    Please, dear readers, inform Ray Comfort that this challenge has been made.

    What's a matter Ray, are you chicken? Afraid I'll defeat you without your editing tricks and censorship?