Why I Won’t Be Seeing “For Greater Glory” UPDATED

Pick up stones and hurl them at me if you want to, but I won’t be dragging the family to the theaters this weekend to watch For Greater Glory. Nope, not even at matinee prices. I’ll just wait for it to show up on Netflix, if I bother to watch it at all.

Yeah, yeah, I know what it’s about. I know it’s about fighting for religious liberty, in Mexico, the Cristero War, etc., etc., with bullets and bloodshed and all that ruckus. But here’s the thing. The movie, according to my go-to source that has never let me down (except once*) is screaming “avoid.” And sort of like a pilot flying through the soup, see, I tend to trust my instruments. Especially when tickets to the movies for a family costs as much as filling up the gas tank, if not more.

In the past, I’ve written about time being too precious to waste on a bad movie, and I’ll be sticking with that assertion. If you want to be like the die-hard Ayn Rand lovers who claimed that the best, most important movie of all time was last years release of Atlas Shrugged, Part 1, by all means be my guest. But for those of you who don’t have limitless entertainment budgets (show of hands), Metacritic recommends you avoid For Greater Glory. In case you’re unfamiliar with their ranking system, here’s a refresher.

Joe Six-Pack, USMC is the master of the obvious (if anything at all). Guess what else? He’s cheap too. Or frugal, depending on your frame of reference. The bottom-line? I filter my possible movie viewing choices through a trusted source before deciding to commit my limited amount of entertainment dollars to seeing a movie.

My tool of choice for vetting films is a website called Metacritic. And unlike some of my friends recommendations, Metacritic has never let me down. Here’s how they scored The Love Guru. Um, yes, I passed on that one.

What’s the Metacritic story?

It began as a simple idea back in the summer of 1999: a single score could summarize the many entertainment reviews available for a movie or a video game. Metacritic’s three founding members—all former attorneys who were happy to find a more constructive but less profitable use of their time—launched the site in January 2001 and Metacritic has evolved over the last decade to reflect their experience distilling many critics’ voices into the single Metascore, a weighted average of the most respected critics writing reviews online and in print.

Metacritic’s mission is to help consumers make an informed decision about how to spend their time and money on entertainment. We believe that multiple opinions are better than one, user voices can be as important as critics, and opinions must be scored to be easy to use.

It’s as easy as Green, Yellow and Red. Just as simple as your experience decoding a traffic signal. And now, they even score TV shows (I’ve no time for those) and music (they make new music?) as well. They also have a feature where folks can post their own reviews, but the official Metascore is based on the reviews of professional critics.

When I shared that information the first time ’round, Metacritic scored the Ayn Rand epic (flop) a whopping 28 out of 100, solidly in the red light department. Guess how the Andy Garcia/Eva Longoria film scored? 35 out of 100, landing in the heart of the red light district. And did I mention that the film is rated R? Another huge strike against it in the family viewing department.

A little while ago, I saw a post with the following headline: Roger Ebert Pans “For Greater Glory” For Being Too Catholic. Unfortunately, that is not quite the case. As the good folks over at Metacritic clearly show, Mr. Ebert (who is a lapsed Catholic, for those of you who are interested) actually gave the film the best review that it has received thus far by any major film critic. His review was scored as 63/100. Barely in the green, true, but a positive review nonetheless. Here’s a review from Movie Line with a headline that pretty much says it all: Despite Cristero War Setting, “For Greater Glory” Could Use a Better Story.

Hmmmmmm. Okey-dokey.

If you really want to ignore everything I’ve shared with you here, and go see the movie anyway, that’s the beautiful thing about America. You are free to spend your money as you see fit. But don’t come crying to me when you are disappointed by it. Deal? Besides, Stephen D. Greydanus liked it, so I might watch it on Netflix one day after all. Before heading out though, you may want to check the scores on all the other movies playing in theaters now. Just to be on the safe side.

Have a great weekend!

UPDATE: Read a firsthand account of persecution from before the Cristeros War over on the YIMCatholic Bookshelf here, and here. More titles available on Amazon.

UPDATE II: How did Metacritic rate other movies you may have loved? Metacritic gave glowing, nay, awesome, reviews on these three great films: Cinderella Man? A deeply green 69. Into Great Silence? A green homerun and a 78. And remember  Of Gods and Men? A grand slam at 86, which equals “universal acclaim.”

UPDATE III: Have you read Graham Green’s The Power and the Glory? Here’s a solid post about the Cristero War from Le Fleur de Lys.

UPDATE IV: Fr. Michael Gossett has a review and a plea for good Catholic movies…

Everything you need to know about the Cristero War

*It led me to waste 3+ hours (that I’ll never get back) on watching the alleged masterpiece (scored 85/100 = “Universal Acclaim”) by Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life, so it’s not foolproof. zzzZZZzzz Thankfully, the art house theater in my town sells beer now. Unfortunately, when The Tree of Life was playing, they didn’t have their license yet.

  • Nancy Larrick

    I paid the 5 bucks (senior discount) and saw it this morning. I thought it was so good that I want to see it again and buy the DVD when it comes out. I rarely buy DVD’s. It held my attention so well that I forgot to eat my popcorn – not a dull moment. It was a very moving film that people who love Joan of Arc would like. (Hint, hint.) After the credits were over, everyone in the theater got up looked around at each other and said, “WOW”, then several of us total strangers walked out together and talked about it in the parking lot. I made 3 new Catholic friends today!

    • Frank Weathers


  • RosalindaL

    Dear Crazy Man – There are things that are more important than ratings or charts. Whether you’re Catholic or not, this movie is the most amazing movie I have ever seen, next to Passion of the Christ. Even if I had felt that this movie was not up to par with ratings, I still would have spent the money to send a message that the crap that is thrown at us from Hollywood is not acceptable. I haven’t been to a movie in theatres for years because the previews are disgraceful, disgusting, immoral definate wastes of my precious time, let alone a full blown ball of crap. This movie is worth every single moment, every single tear, every single emotion I felt in the theatre! I pray that everyone loses your email or ignores it and goes to the theatre in total support of morality and a reminder of the courage it takes to keep a country truly FREE!
    PS: I do agree that a child under 13 should not be watching this movie. It’s very violent, but with 90,000 people losing their lives in the name of freedom, it would have to be violent!

    • Nancy Larrick

      Amen! I concur (except I think a lot of kids under 13 could handle it.)

    • Thomas R

      You know this is maybe going to anger some, but there were things I didn’t really like about “Passion of the Christ.” Like the devil and the devil baby in it. For some reason that just bothered me. It’s not Biblical and I don’t even recall it as part of the “Stations of the Cross” or tradition as I was taught. And that could be okay, but it just seemed to almost give a “horror movie” feel to parts of it for me that I didn’t like.

  • Nancy Larrick

    BTW, I have no idea why it’s rated R. That’s ridiculous. I would take an 8 year old to see it. As I’ve said elsewhere, someone doesn’t want people to see this movie…

    • Joan Barber

      I agree, Nancy. Someone somewhere has an agenda to prevent the public from seeing this fabulous movie. It’s so ironic that there happened to be a FULL PAGE ANTI-CATHOLIC ad in today’s USA Today ……urging people to leave the Catholic Church! Coincidence? I think not!

      • Frank Weathers

        Who is Frank Weathers? Just a guy with a blog. But somehow Joan, you read souls through your keyboard and decide that “he’s obviously a liberal, an atheist…or both!” Stay classy, por favor.

        • David Naas

          Uh, how did you get what you replied out of what she said? Do you see stuff that is censored before it hits the public viewing?
          Actually, in spite of everything, I am somewhat glad tht the movie (a movie, for happiness sake) is stirring up controversy, and maybe, a decent dialogue.
          And, it’s ok to watch it on netflix. With your shades drawn. And the volume turned down. So nobody knows. But you.
          That’s freedom.

  • enness

    Oh, I’m cheap but I might give it a chance. If it flops you know that’ll be used as an excuse to not make anything with a decent story again for a long time. I would expect it at least to be better than the latest crappy rom-com. My only other qualm is, why is Eva Longoria in this? Isn’t she a high-profile Obama supporter? Can’t she see the parallel?

    • Nancy Larrick

      She’s in the movie, but has a very small role in the beginning. You don’t see her much after that. It really is a good movie – worth the time and money.

    • Thomas R

      I don’t want to diminish what Obama is doing, but I think people on both sides are making too much of an analogy here. Killing or exiling priests is different than what Obama’s doing. He’s doing something worrisome to me too, but I think the difference between him and Calles are pretty real.

  • http://thecatholicsciencegeek.blogspot.com/ The Catholic Science Geek

    I just got back from seeing it and think that it is well worth the time and money. I just hope I have time to see it again…this is coming from a cheap PhD student who never has time on her hands. Forget what the critics say…this movie was BEAUTIFUL and certainly one of the best I’ve seen to date. The way they portrayed the martyrs, etc…just plain beautiful. Also…how often do you get to see ANY movie that brings out the beauty of Catholicism…saints, martyrs, sinners, and all?!?

    • Frank Weathers

      Thanks Doc!

    • Nancy Larrick

      Peter O’Toole’s alb was beautiful and I wish I could get my hands on a copy of the huge Sacred Heart picture that was in the boy’s house!

  • http://www.mulberryandbliss.com Tim Canny

    I usually wait to hear what Barbara Nicolosi has to say about a movie before making my final decision. Still think I’ll probably go see it this weekend even though I don’t think she’s made a pronouncement on it yet.

    • Frank Weathers

      I’ll give her this, she isn’t an easy grader! Scroll down to her post on the Mighty Macs, if you dare. I’d be interested in seeing her take on this film as well.

  • Elmtree

    I expected it to be bad, but I found I liked it. I was pleasantly surprised. Mind you, it had flaws (mainly in the craftsmanship of the script) but acting was good, and even with the flaws it kept my interest. Better than many films with a religious topic, though it could have been better with possibly one more rewrite (by a more experienced scriptwriter). Some great scenes, particularly with Oscar Isaac’s character. If you go in expecting a film with weaknesses you won’t be let down. Worth a viewing.

  • Romulus

    Just got back from seeing it with my wife. It’s not a deathless classic, but nor is it in any sense a bad movie. Screenplay was a bit anachronistic and lacking in subtlety. Score too Hollywoodish — a golden opportunity to feature authentic Mexican music, blown. But solid acting and excellent production values. Most importantly, a true story, respectfully handled. I find Frank’s standoffishness bizarre. If it’s not in the family budget I can accept that, but let’s not dismiss it as no good because a mindless formula (that allows no weight for extraordinarily good timing in a matter of grave importance to Catholics) spat out a low score.

  • http://www.DeaconPat.net Deacon Pat

    Just returned from watching the movie with my wife and 18 and 16 yo kids…… What a great movie and inspirationally Catholic! I am glad we say it!

  • Carol

    The problem, Frank, is that this is a story that desperately needs to be told as the majority of the public have no clue. If it’s so bad it does a disservice to the truth that’s different but no reviewer is claiming that or looking from that perpective that gets a point on Metacritic.
    I don’t go to movies not even these. One, they never are playing in my area, the capital of the left coast, SF. Two, I don’t have money. Three, my babies are little and I have no sitters. But using your blog to send people away from what could be a good for the overall public so you can be right first….meh.

    • Frank Weathers

      Libraries fill the bill in this regard quite well.

  • Carol

    OH but thanks for the Cristero links. :)

    • Frank Weathers

      Weren’t those accounts great? :)

  • Jennifer

    You are a fool if you do not go and see this movie in the theatre. It was brilliant and moving. On par with Schindler’s List. Go, you won’t regret it.

  • Jenn

    What exactly are you afraid of Frank? I will take your review into consideration only after you have seen the movie… Be a gentleman and speak only of that you have knowledge of. Young women like me are waiting for our men to stand up and become true gentlemen they can be… Like the men portrayed in this movie…

  • Rose

    I can’t believe what I’m reading on your blog regarding the movie “For Greater Glory”.
    “If you bother to watch it at all”, “with bullets and bloodshed and all that ruckus”, time to precious to waste on a bad movie”, instead of trusting your instruments , please try reading a little more about the history of the Cristero War and the persecution inflected upon the laity and clerics before, during and after those turbulent years. Some current informative articles include: Edward Pention’s article at Zenit.org, Matthew Cullinan Hoffman at National Catholic Register-05/29/12, Isabel Morales at the scattering.wordpress-05/15/12. Graham Greene referred to this era in Mexicos’ history “as the fiercest persecution of religion anywhere since the reign of Elizabeth”. I’ll be traveling over 60 miles to see the movie since my local theater tends to bypass anything closely related to religion. Hopefully, you’ll change your mind & heart and watch it someday on Netflixs.

  • Thomas R

    I have to admit things like this is where I don’t really trust metacritic. I do use it some, but with caution. Some things appeal to film critics, but don’t appeal to me or vice versa. Going by metacritic Sideways is like one of the best movies ever and, although it had its moments, I kind of didn’t care for it on the whole. I think I may have watched it due to the critics.

    The film “Ratatouille” oddly made critics make more sense to me even if it was ostensibly discussing food criticism. They don’t have much say in whether a blockbuster succeeds or fails. Or whether things that appeal to popular interest in general succeeds or fails. Their strength is in praising “the new” or things that you might not come to on your own. So they sometimes overpraise independent and foreign films or under-praise films that are popular. Granted this isn’t a popular subject, but another issue with critics is they are largely literary and arts educated people. Things that successfully “capture” that world capture critics. “Sideways” captured the world of randy artistic heterosexual male drunks fairly well, I’ll grant that, it’s just not a world I’m interested in myself. But the further you get from the world/values of “authors and artists” I think the more disconnected and maybe lost many film critics might feel. Even if they wouldn’t acknowledge that. (Some can manage it though)

    However not wanting to take your kids an R-rated movie sounds pretty sensible.

  • Tammy

    While I never waste money seeing a first run movie at the theater, we WILL be taking the family to see For Greater Glory this weekend. Major reason, to support Catholic film making. I won’t spend my money on the usual drivel Hollywood puts out, but I will support an attempt at showing a Catholic story, from a Catholic point of view. Also, the R is only for some war violence, not any sexual content or anything that I would mind my kids seeing. War is real. And the topic of religious freedom is very pertinent to our lives in America today. So for once, I totally disagree with you, on every level. That’s unusual.

  • Ella

    I saw the movie yesterday and would definitely see it again. I can’t believe it has an “R” rating because it is less violent than a lot of PG-13 movies I’ve seen and the violence is never gratuitous. I thought it was powerful and moving and very timely. Yes, there were some (minor) flaws but overall beautifully done. I loved the spiritual transformation of the general. I encourage all people to see it, especially Catholics (but not small children- too intense).

  • Joseph L

    I found it interesting that Frank Weathers encourages us to “check out the other movies scores” when making a movie selection this weekend. I see his much-beloved Metacritic has given the movie “Cabin in the Woods” a 72, which one reviewer said is an update on the “classic coed campsite massacre,” where 5 people get hunted and maimed.

    Everyone complains about a lack of movies with faith and values coming out of Hollywood, but then a movie like Cinderella Man or For Greater Glory or Into Great Silence or Of Gods and Men comes out and people like Mssr Weathers put down the movie without even seeing it, and Catholics end up ignoring it, and eventually wonder why good movies aren’t showing up on their Netflix menu.

    • Frank Weathers

      On the contrary, Metacritic gave glowing, nay, awesome, reviews on the three films you mentioned, Joseph. Have a look for yourself: Cinderella Man? A green 69. Into Great Silence? Green and a 78. As for Of Gods and Men, a grand slam at 86, which equals “universal acclaim.”

      • http://www.spicycatholic.com Victoria

        Frank- Con permiso, but Of Gods and Men was so boring, my husband and I couldn’t even get through it. Yes, Catholic history, and important to see and support, so we did, but Yawn fest. Your dismissal of an important part of Mexican history is so typical it’s almost stomache turning. For shame. This is a way to lift up our Mexican brothers and sisters by paying attention to the bloodshed they faced- that hopefully we will not have to.
        NTM, did you read Archbishop Chaput’s review, I mean, come on, if HE has the time, I think you do too. And it’s also important to Mexican people- not just kinda, but really. I for one, didn’t even know about this persecution and war before I heard the film was coming out- and how many Catholics did??? Let us here in our developed world lives be warned, and seriously.
        Weak! -is my rating of your rating system. God is beauty. – and art can bring beauty into life brother, even from war, even from a film some guy did or didn’t like.
        John 1:4 “What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race;
        the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. ”
        You should try not just relying on someone else’s opinions for your choices and negative blog post. In the interest of full disclosure; we had to miss it last night, but seeing it asap.
        And while I am not good enough at this yet- To testify to the Lord, this is Why I Am Catholic.

  • http://www.brutallyhonest.org Rick

    Archbishop Chaput calls it “a film that no Catholic should miss this summer”.
    Here’s his review.

  • http://egregioustwaddle.blogspot.com/ Joanne K McPortland

    I think you’re being misunderstood, Joe Sixpack, and misunderstanding a little, too. :)
    I myself don’t read reviews until after I see something, just for kicks. And we all have our favorite guides. I prefer thoughtful discussion of a film’s joys and flaws to a quick rating, but then I’m not buying tickets for anyone but myself. All reviews are subjective, just as our opinions about the films we see are objective. Nobody should see this just because Archbishop Chaput says to, or avoid it just because you’re planning to.
    I’m looking forward to seeing this film, not for apologetics but because it’s a time in history that few US folks know about, even though it involves people who are part of our fastest growing demographic. After its on Netflix, if you see it, I’ll look forward to talking with you about it.

  • Frank La Rocca

    Bad call, Frank. The portrayal of Bl. José Luis Sanchez del Rio alone is worth the time and money.

  • Jennifer J in Mn

    So, let me get this straight, you “reviewed” a movie you didn’t see? Glad there are actual people I trust doing actual reviews. Sad.

    • Frank Weathers

      In the title, it’s pretty clear I didn’t see the movie. Reviews of “actual people you trust,” and from those you don’t, were linked throughout the post.

  • Barbara Nicolosi

    You’re a brave man, Frank. Refusing to jump on the latest Catholic bandwagon project is not for the lily-livered. Viva Cristo Rey!

    • Frank Weathers

      Thanks for stopping in Barbara. If you review this film, shoot me the link.

      Indeed, ¡Viva Cristo Rey! ¡Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe! ¡Viva la libertad religiosa!

      And now, as the severs at Patheos are melting from the highly unusual volume in my combox (heh!), and before the signal to noise ratio rears it’s head, I’ll close comments here.