DISCLAIMER: In this post I present my biased opinion as to the way it was filmed and put together. I also like to throw a bit of humor in just to lighten it up. This is not meant to disparage the Endowment or the film. Also I don’t discuss anything I have covenanted not to. I hope there’s no hard feelings from any of my L-DS friends(if they read it).
After a brief pre-recorded introduction the officiator sat down. I was surprised how few people were in this session because of how many cars were in the temple parking lot. I had joked with my wife that, “All these people must be here for the premier.” Then lights in the creation room dimmed and the movie began. The first new thing was the music. It had some good oomph to it, but the violin parts made it seem really small for an epic expansive space shot. Then multicolored nebulae appeared on the screen. However they seemed a bit to stiff and motionless, I was hoping for something a bit more epic.
As we panned through another nebula white streaks of light appeared from the bottom of the screen. Then in a bright flash there was God, Jehovah, and Michael. Their bright white clothing was a significant improvement over the plastic shower curtain style of the previous films. God looked Jewish and Jehovah had effeminate lips accentuated by his white mustache and beard. The whole scene was brightly light with glowing effects. The hardest part to make out was what they were standing on. It was like a big glowing rock.
After some dialogue, heaven disappeared and in a bright flash and we were back with the nebula. As the dialogue of the formation of the earth progressed we saw several shots of the earth forming. A ball of gas; a molten planet; then the planet cooling. They definitely did a pretty good job of incorporating modern scientific understanding of planet formation.
Then as they planned the formation of land we saw a “Lord of the Rings”-esque planning shot with drawings of water, mountains, volcanoes and rivers appearing on a parchment-like background. When we got to the stage of actually carrying out the plan(“we will go down”) we saw actual shots of volcanoes, rocks, rivers, etc.
If I recall correctly it was at this point that we went back to heaven in a bright flash. Then I realized just what it was they were standing on. I noticed that this “rock” has an opalescent quality. I also noticed diamond and glass-like qualities to the surface. BING! That’s supposed to be like the “sea of glass” mentioned in revelations. It was kind of cool but also a bit disorienting. They were just standing on this blob of glowy, glassy, shiny stuff.
The creation continued with Lord of the Rings parchment planning scenes and the live shot “creating” scenes. The dialogue hadn’t changed so it didn’t seem any more open to evolution than any of the previous versions. The only big difference is that we saw the earth form as I mentioned above. Also something new happened when they were creating the lights, the greater to rule the day, the lesser to rule the night; when they got to the stars we all cast our gaze skyward as LEDs which had been installed in the ceilling, lit up to engross us in the experience.
Then when the earth is pronounced finished we saw a huge wave crash dramatically over a rock, probably filmed somewhere in the pacific. It was a nice shot.
Then we went back to heaven and prepared for mankind to be created. When they started discussing it, we get the parchment drawings again, but this time of Adam and Eve and a pair of hands holding the forbidden fruit. The actual tree of the Fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was rather small. It was dwarfed by the palm trees behind it.
We went down to the tropical paradise garden(Really, why is it always a tropical paradise? Why not a north American forest or something?). As Adam was formed the camera panned past some rocks with a small cleft where we briefly caught a glimpse Adam laying down. Then it moved past the rocks and we got a clearer view of Adam. He was laying down with his upper body propped up against a rock. Everything below his neck was covered in mist. I noticed that some light chest hair could be seen on our Adam. Behind Adam was something like a thin rock wall. Elohim and Jehovah were standing behind the rock wall. This was one of the corniest shots, because it looked like Adam is snoozing in a hot tub.
Adam was a Josh Brolin look-alike. He was in his late 30′s. He didn’t necessarily have white-white skin, but his black hair and eyebrows made his skin look white. However Adam’s voice wasn’t what I expected, it was slightly high pitched and nasally.
After Adam got up, Elohim and Jehovah presented Eve to him. Adam and Eve looked off into the distance at the Garden as they are about to be introduced into it. The lights went up and we moved from the Creation Room into the Garden Room.
Eve was also in her later 30s and not as attractive as many have been hoping for. The blonde Eve in the previous film was probably the most attractive. Our Eve was a Miriama Smith look-alike except she looked older and less attractive. Of course for all I know it could very well have been Miriama Smith who would now be older and maybe less attractive than when I saw her in “Other Side of Heaven.” (I don’t think she really is, but then again I don’t follow celebrities).
NOTE: I know some may find discussing the attractiveness of the actress who plays Eve to be distasteful. And I find it a bit superficial myself. However I’ve noticed it is one of the topics discussed about the new temple movie. So I feel it is appropriate to include it.
In the Garden Room with the lights dimmed the film resumed. We saw various shots of Adam and Eve walking through the Garden. We literally NEVER saw ANYTHING below the shoulders. Thankfully though, instead of the only employing the miraculously placed flora trick to hide Adam and Eve’s naughty bits, they were carrying baskets woven from plants(I thought there was no death before the fall. So how could they kill the leaves of a plant to make a basket?). They were gathering leaves and fruits in these baskets presumably to eat.
Adam was carrying one such basket when suddenly he saw a red robed man crouched near the Tree of Knowledge. This was of course Lucifer who then stood up and offered Adam some fruit. Adam refused the dried-ornamental-pepper-strawberry-tomato fruit(I would too. It looked all dried and disgusting. I prefer the triple-lobed-pear-plum fruit of the previous film.).
Lucifer in this film was easily forgettable compared to Micheael Ballam’s Lucifer. He was a
small mousy man. He was clean shaven and balding. The only thing that gave him any screen presence was his wardrobe. He wore bold reds contrasted with dark blacks. Golden embroidery adorned his apparel. As the film progressed Lucifer, Adam, and Eve’s attire changed, presumable to represent the passage of time. It was a nice touch that helped the story feel like it was moving along.
Next we saw Eve sitting down, her naughty lady bits covered in the latest“modest is hottest” woven baskets. Lucifer approached her from a distance. Slowly he snaked his way closer, tempting her. Then he knelt before her with his head bowed, offering the fruit to her as the only way to become like God. She paused and contemplated. She stood and looked towards the tree. You could see on her face that this was a difficult decision. Then, almost tearfully, she took the dried-ornamental-pepper-strawberry-tomato fruit and took a bite.
Lucifer kind of seemed like a nice guy up until this point; but after Eve partook his demeanor changed as he knew he had succeeded. He told Eve to get Adam to partake. In the next shot Adam was sitting by a tree with bushes that just happened to be blocking the camera view to anything below his shoulders(the camera man couldn’t have moved the camera?). Eve tearfully approached Adam and explained what happened. She told Adam that he will be left alone in the garden. He knew what he must do to remain with Eve. A tear rolled down his left check as a took the fruit and ate it. Then they embraced to show their unity and solidarity through this situation.
They did a really good job at eliminating the mindlessness of Eve. They were portrayed as much more active and loving to each other.
Then Lucifer came back his face was partially obscured by shadows so that it looked almost grey. Another negative against Lucifer was his “Dark Knight” voice. However instead of gargling marbles he just hissed all of his lines in loud whispers. Gone are the days of an operatic Satan bellowing his lines boldly! Now his lines quietly hiss forth out of his mouth.
When Elohim and Jehovah returned, after Adam and Eve had supposedly cover their naughty bits in fig leaves, we saw probably the most campy shot in the film. It is from the perspective of God looking at Adam and Eve. There was literally dense foliage EVERYWHERE. Then in the center of the screen were two little heads poking up out of it. The foliage near Adam and Eve looked like CGI, or they were standing so close to it that was casting odd shadows. I mean seriously, why are Adam and Eve going to be standing around, nearly naked, in dense, prickly plants. They already covered their naughty bits in fig leaves so God wouldn’t see their nakedness. Maybe they didn’t have enough time to weave fig leaves so they just ducked into some brush. Nevertheless, I want to see some fig leaves!
The lights went up and we moved into the room representing the Lone and Dreary World. As the film resumed we saw Adam and Eve get cast out of the Garden. Now when they say cast out into the Lone and Dreary world, they mean LONE and DREARY! They contrasted the lush garden, not with sparse forest and dead trees like the previous film, but with the Grand Canyon. We’re talking DESERT! In some wide angle shots of the canyon you can see a tropical lush mountain in the distance(Eden?).
Then Peter, James, and John came onto the scene. Peter was an older, bald, white guy. James had greying hair and seemed almost middle eastern. John looked like a Filipino American.
Eve doesn’t just stand around during this part anymore, she has a little more to do. At one point Lucifer threateningly sat down next to her and she bolted to her feet to get away.
Finally when Satan want on his schpiel about ruling everything he was standing on a cliff edge with montage of shots of him filmed from a circling helicopter.
Overall, I would say this film is an improvement. The visuals are vastly improved. Yet, I would say there is still a touchy of campy-ness that makes you feel at home. The acting is WAY better. However their casting leaves much to be desired. Adam came of as bit of a sissy; Eve was alright but won’t give the men much their much craved eye candy(not that that is her purpose); Satan was forgettable; Jehovah looked like the bearded lady; and Elohim is about that same as in previous films, meaning he doesn’t do much, just gives commands.
On the drive home I was talking about it with my wife who also agree that the actor for Satan was the most illogical choice. But then I thought that maybe it was on purpose. the most common comment you hear about the previous endowment films is that Satan was the star. So perhaps they intentional cast this guy so that people would like Adam and Eve better. Just a thought.