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Thursday, April 29, 2010

FALLEN -- DVD review by porfle

There have been several movies about fallen angels over the years, and for me, the ABC Family miniseries FALLEN (2006-07) is better than most of them.

Paul Wesley (VAMPIRE DIARIES) plays Aaron Corbett, a typical high school kid who's on the wrestling team and has a really big crush on a pretty girl named Vilma (Fernanda Andrade). Though happy living with his foster parents Tom and Lori and their autistic son Stevie, Aaron wonders what his real parents were like. On his 18th birthday, he finds out--his father was a fallen angel (one of Lucifer's followers, banished from Heaven for rebelling against God) who married a human woman, and they gave birth to a being known as a "nephilim"--an abomination with the powers of an angel and the soul of a human.

Now that he's of age, Aaron's angelic side is manifesting itself in weird ways. He can talk to his dog Gabriel as well as other animals, he can speak any language, he can do some of the cool "amaze your schoolmates" stuff that Peter Parker did in the first half of SPIDERMAN, and, according to a bum named Zeke (Tom Skerritt) who claims to be one of the Fallen, Aaron just happens to be the Redeemer whose coming has been prophesied for centuries. As such, he has the power to "redeem" fallen angels who repent of their rebellious ways and send them back to Heaven. The downside is that now, he's the target of a group of really badass angels known as The Powers, whose job it is to track down both fallen angels and nephilim alike and kill them.

As if the usual growing pains weren't enough of a problem, this new wrinkle in Aaron's life proves quite an inconvenience during the three feature-length segments of FALLEN, which originally aired in 2006-07 in five parts. In order to keep his foster family out of danger, Aaron hits the road along with Camael (Rick Worthy), a former Power who believes the prophecy and is protecting Aaron. Together they seek out fallen angels so that Aaron can redeem them, with the help of Ariel (an appealing Ivana Milicevic, who played Le Chiffre's girlfriend in CASINO ROYALE), the leader of the Fallen underground.

But whenever Aaron uses his abilities, the Powers are able to pinpoint his location, which leads to a series of lively battle sequences. The best one--the high point of the whole movie, in my view--occurs early on at Aaron's rural family home when the dreaded Verchiel (Lisa Lackey, MULHOLLAND DRIVE) and her minions show up to take on Aaron and Camael. Lackey's sneeringly hostile performance as Verchiel is a real joy, and when she sprouts a pair of huge white wings and takes flight, it's just plain cool-looking. Armed with flaming swords that spring out of their hands like lightsabers, the winged opponents do aerial battle via some surprisingly above-average CGI. This scene is good enough to serve as the finale for most films, and is even better than the eventual showdown between Aaron and Lucifer in the last episode.

Another great character is Azazel (Hal Ozsan, "Dawson's Creek"), released from a 5,000-year captivity by Lucifer in order to befriend Aaron and lure him into the Dark One's clutches. Azazel ventures into the new world like a kid in a candy store, dressing up like Jim Morrison, hitting on every attractive female in sight, and gorging himself on his new obsession, french fries. With his motives and allegiances always in question, Azazel is one of the show's wild cards who help keep things interesting.

As the homeless Ezekiel, who first clues Aaron in on who he is and what's happening to him, Tom Skerritt provides a "big movie star" name to the cast while giving an oddly eccentric performance. Fernanda Andrade as "Vilma" provides the love interest for Aaron, although my initial fears that FALLEN would turn out to be TWILIGHT with angels instead of vampires proved totally unfounded. This is definitely not some gushy teen romantic fantasy.

All of this sounds like the set-up for an extended TV series--sort of an action-oriented update of "Highway to Heaven" or "Touched By an Angel"--but to my relief the story is resolved with enough finality to provide adequate closure while still leaving open the possibility of further episodes. With the Powers hot on their heels, Aaron, Camael, and company make their way toward their inevitable encounter with Lucifer (Bryan Cranston, "Malcolm in the Middle", "Seinfeld") in a mountaintop monastery. Their meeting may be a bit anti-climactic if you're expecting a really slam-bang finish, but it plays out well and offers a surprise or two. Directors Mikael Salomon and Kevin Kerslake handle it all with style and keep everything visually interesting, while David Williams contributes a robust, percussion-heavy musical score.

The DVD from Image Entertainment is in 1.78:1 widescreen and Dolby Digital stereo, with no subtitles. The sole extra is a trailer. "Fallen: The Complete Movie Event" (Parts 1-3) provides a total running time of 4 hours and 7 minutes, although the story is also available as two separate DVDs--"Fallen: The Beginning" (Parts 1 and 2), and "Fallen: Destiny" (Part 3).

FALLEN starts out a little iffy but just keeps getting better and better until it becomes very involving. I don't know how Biblically accurate it all is--I'm going to take a wild guess and say "not very"--but as an action-packed supernatural thriller it's a lot of far-out fun.

Buy it at
Fallen: The Complete Movie Event (Parts 1-3) DVD
Fallen: The Beginning (Parts 1 and 2) DVD
Fallen: Destiny (Part 3) DVD

1 comment:

Julie Shryock said...

So far off from the books....I really wanted to watch it but now I think I will save my money and skip it!!!!!!!! Pisses me off when they try and make the story better by changing it all around and all they end up doing is fucking ahit up!!!!!