“The Principle” Gets a Tepid Review in Variety

“The Principle” Gets a Tepid Review in Variety January 30, 2015

Outside the hothouse of St. Blog’s, the normal world looks at a boutique film about quack science made by a super-fringe Catholic apologist, shrugs, says “Weird”, and gets on with its day.  True believers (led by producer Rick DeLano himself) show up in the combox to shriek stuff about the Liberal Conspiracy and pose for their pictures as strangely preening St. Stephens celebrating the Feast of the ASCII Martyrs–as if the Fifteen Minutes of Fame and the Diocletian Persecution are somehow one and the same for them.  It’s all very creepy, yet hilarious, yet… yeah, creepy.  So endeth the career of the film that will CHANGE THE WORLD FOREVER!!!

I still have to wonder about the folks who sank a fortune into underwriting this strange project.  Are they the sort of people who have enough money to blow on boutique quackery that they are just glad it exists even though nobody outside their hothouse takes it seriously or will ever see it?  Are they the kind of Catholic (like DeLano) who take it as a badge of honor when sane people point out that it is junk science and junk theology, as though such critiques are the persecution Jesus foretold?  How do they square their previous claims that this film would herald the dawn of a new epoch in science and theology with the complete failure of that Barnumesque claim?  Do they imagine that they stand at the foot of the cross, rejected by the world yet looking forward, with the help of God to the Rosy Future in which the gospel of geocentrism covers the earth as the waters cover the sea?  Or is the whole pose of laughing persecution just an act for the sake of the Catholic suckers who are paying the bills and, once the money dries up, guys like DeLano will doff the martyr’s robes, skip town, and find some new suckers to grift? He does, after all, sometimes radiate the impression (noted by David Palm) that for all his bluster about the world-changing nature of his film, he doesn’t believe a word he’s saying and diametrically opposes Bob Sungenis on the central claim the movie exists to make:

What is the movie The Principle really about? And do its producers believe that science has proven that the Earth occupies the very center of the universe?

Some people may understandably be confused because the producers have given diametrically opposed answers to these questions. For instance, Rick DeLano was recently interviewed on ScienceFiction.com (remarkably appropriate venue, that) and had this to say about the status of geocentrism as a theory and The Principle’s treatment of it:

We did not feel it was appropriate or possible for us to make the scientific case for geocentrism. The evidence is not there. There is still room for doubt. It would be incorrect to attempt to force this evidence into a solution that says “It’s geocentrism or nothing else.” We are not there yet. (my emphasis).

So according to the movie’s producer, The Principle doesn’t even attempt to make a conclusive case for geocentrism. In fact, it’s not even possible to prove the scientific case for geocentrism at this time.  This ambivalent statement about geocentrism could easily leave people scratching their heads in confusion, especially since the executive producer Robert Sungenis had this to say about their movie in a public press release:

Briefly, The Principle is unlike any movie you have ever seen or may ever see. It is the first of its kind, mainly because the information it presents has only been available within the last two decades, and very few people know about it. What is it?

 Brace yourself!! Indisputable scientific findings show the Earth, among all other celestial bodies, occupies the most privileged and unique place in the universe, the very center! (emphasis mine.)

So, according to this statement, not only does The Principle present a conclusive case for geocentrism, the scientific evidence is “indisputable.”

So is DeLano a True Believer like Sungenis?  Or is he tipping his hand that he doesn’t really think there’s a case for geocentrist quackery, but he’d really like you to lay down some money for his movie while he prepares his exit strategy should the whole house of cards come down?  Hard to say, but time will tell.  The ability of small sects devoted to delusion to rationalize every failure of The Vision is immense.  So is the ability of grifters to milk such sects.  So I don’t discount any or all of these scenarios.

But I do wonder how much more money the financial backers of this silly project are willing to pour into it before it dawns on them that they are getting taken to the cleaners.  It will be interesting to see what happens should that pool of money dry up.  Will the sect divide into the True Believers soldiering on in pursuit of the Vision and the cynical grifters who saw in the sect a temporary source of income?  Hard to say.  But I don’t see it ending well, cuz at the end of the day, making movies like “The Principle” is, like all moviemaking, all about the benjamins, and the box office for “The Principle” has been miniscule.  I wonder if they will try to get it on Netflix in that niche that features ancient aliens, documentaries about moon landing hoaxes, and chin-pulling tv shows about the Nazi search for the Hollow Earth.  Maybe MST3K will pick it up for a Riff Trax second life.

Best part:  The Real Catholics who have devoted massive  energy to promoting this piece of bizarre junk at Church Militant TV are the same Authorities who look at a the work of a *real* Catholic evangelist like Fr. Robert Barron and do everything they can to slander him and destroy his work.  Smart.

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  • Joseph

    “I still have to wonder about the folks who sank a fortune into underwriting this strange project. Are they the sort of people who have enough money to blow on boutique quackery that they are just glad it exists even though nobody outside their hothouse takes it seriously or will ever see it?”
    .
    Are you talking about the “Left Behind” movies? 🙂

    • chezami

      Same difference. Maybe they can get Nicholas Cage to play DeLano in the sequel.

  • petey

    “Liberal Conspiracy”

    i’m glad you put that in quotes, and may well point it out again sometime …

  • orual’s kindred

    A tepid response from a Hollywood magazine? Tepid? No hissing, no spitting? Not even a smidgen of vitriol? Commenters from this blog have given me the impression that the measure of a Catholic’s standing in the Church is the hatefulness he elicits from Leftists. Pope Francis, for instance, is considered a communist heretic because communist heretics love him. What then should people make of a lukewarm response from a Hollywood publication? And now at least one person apparently involved with the film has 1) upvoted a comment that describes him as manly and Catholic, 2) hinted at hat-trick lawsuits and depositions (a tactic used by bureaucratic Big Government proponents) and 3) suggested that a promise is only a promise if it is successful (an argument used by opponents of traditional marriage). How are these developments to be squared with the orthodoxy being ascribed to this film and its filmmakers?

    • D.T. McCameron

      What then should people make of a lukewarm response from a Hollywood publication”

      Possibly that a thing is only injurious to the faith on a minute scale, whereas a work of real harm might be celebrated, and one of sanctity condemned.

      I’ll be honest, when I first heard of this Principle business, I reckoned it was a clever bit of hipster “irony”. A whimsically old-fashioned bit of contrarian tongue-in-cheek.

      But now I see it defended with all the gusto and apparent sincerity Tommy Wiseau and The Room and…hmm…

      • orual’s kindred

        The Principle as hipster “irony”? I might actually watch that 😀

  • Middle Aged Catholic

    We need to disagree with them on principle and ideas. Mark, I can appreciate some of what you write, but your tone drips with vitriol. I do not understand how this helps.

  • Becky Duncan

    Seriously, I never heard of this before I read about it here. Why do you publicize something like this? Why give it the attention?

    • chezami

      Because it interests me.

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    The only thing that could make me want to see this movie is if Mr. T is narrating.