Expelled might not have been the most moving documentary I saw last week, but for a film that received an astounding 9 percent on the Tomato-meter, it was an overachiever, I'd say. Subtler and cleverer than the Michael Moore rants to which it will no doubt be compared, Ben Stein's defense of intelligent design education offers a biting (but not generally sensational) critique.
The movie's editorial commentary comes largely in the form of newsreel and black-and-white movie clips that amusingly make some profound points. Adding that to interviews with many of the big-name supporters of intelligent design, the film is well-constructed and appropriately paced, and it presents the foundational philosophical, scientific, and logical arguments in the debate.
Far more fascinating, though, are the interactions with some of ID's prominent opponents, who are given plenty of airtime to present their cases. It's an agenda-driven documentary, of course, but the soundbites are way too long to be simply discarded as editing sleights of hand. I can see why Richard Dawkins hates this movie so much -- did the God Delusion author really suggest that maybe intelligent aliens could have planted the first organisms on our planet? If anything, he must wish that the producers had edited out more of his contribution.
In the interviews with Dawkins and others, Expelled effectively reveals that at its most fundamental levels -- particularly regarding the origin of life -- evolutionary theory drifts into a question of philosophy or, ironically, faith.