Elitist Film Critics Sneer at Religious Freedom Epic: 'Catnip for Crusaders'

Elitist film critics at several big city papers, Friday, mocked the Christian-themed movie For Greater Glory as "catnip for crusaders," a movie that exploits the struggle for religious freedom with "maximum teary-eyed outrage."

The movie, directed by Dean Wright, tells the story of a Catholic uprising against religious persecution in 1920s Mexico. However, Los Angeles Times film critic Robert Abele sneered, "'For Greater Glory' is mostly single-minded, dying-for-the-cause fodder, catnip for crusaders but not so interesting to those looking for a deeper view into how politics and religion can tragically clash."

Abele huffed, "...The film is ultimately a stodgy, overblown and repetitive slog."

New York Times critic Stephen Holdin minimized the story of Jose Luis Sanchez del Rio, a 14-year-old who refused to renounce his faith: "The boy’s arrest and persecution are staged as a kind of passion play exploited for maximum teary-eyed outrage." (Although, in fairness, Holdin did go on to describe the child as a "fearless young warrior.")

Detroit News reviewer Tom Long could barely hide his disinterest in the movie's subject matter:

Apparently in the 1920s, the Mexican government went on some sort of rampage against Catholics. Priests were shot, churches shuttered, that kind of thing.

Not surprisingly, since the entire country pretty much converted to Catholicism, a rebel force arose to fight for the right to be Catholic. In the film, an atheist general (Andy Garcia) agrees to lead the rebels because he believes in religious freedom.

And then lots of people get killed. Priests, children, endless soldiers shooting one another. Director Dean Wright has obviously been charged with creating a Historic Epic here, with all the fuss and overkill that requires.

He succeeds in making enough noise, but what the noise is about is left pretty unclear. Why was the Mexican government, personified by Ruben Blades as President Plutarco Elias Calles, intent on secularizing Mexico? And why do we care?"

Once again, some of the nation's most prominent film critics have shown their disdain for movies with strong religious content.

To see MRC President Brent Bozell's review of For Greater Glory, go here.

[Thank you to MRC intern Kelly McGarey for her assistance.]

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org