Tag Archives: angels we have heard on high

Constantine (2005)

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“The wager between Heaven and Hell is on Earth.”

Directed by Francis Lawrence
Starring Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weiss, Tilda Swinton, Djimon Hounsou and Shia laBeouf

Grumpy, terminally ill misanthrope John Constantine works as a freelance exorcist, deporting demons to Hell if they cross a line and upset the Balance. When a plot to destroy the Balance forever comes to light, Constantine must rally for one final battle.

Continue reading Constantine (2005)

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I, Frankenstein (2014)

The I Frankenstein is fully compatible with the complete range of Apple products.
The I Frankenstein is fully compatible with the complete range of Apple products.

“200 Years Later, He is Still Alive”

Directed by Stuart Beattie
Starring Aaron Eckhart, Bill Nighy, Yvonne Strahovsky and Miranda Otto

After killing his creator’s bride and returning the body of Frankenstein – dead of exposure – to his family graveyard, the Creature (Eckhart) is attacked by demons intent on his capture, and so becomes embroiled in the age-old war between the Gargoyle Order, led by Queen Leonore (Otto), and the 666 infernal legions of the Demon Prince Naberius (Nighy). Despite his best efforts to avoid the conflict, he is tracked by the demons and intercepted by the Gargoyles when he tries to take the fight back to his hunters.

Meanwhile, Naberius is working with human scientist Terra Wade (Strahovsky) to recreate Frankenstein’s work as a means of reinforcing his legions and breaking the deadlock in the war. Only the nigh-indestructible Creature – named Adam by Leonore – has the power to stop him. Continue reading I, Frankenstein (2014)

Legion (2010)

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Few critics were ever much enamoured of Warhol’s religious period

“When the last angel falls, the fight for mankind begins.”

Directed by Scott Stewart
Starring Paul Bettany

In the end time, the Archangel Michael descends to Earth to battle an army of possessed killers in defense of a remote diner. His allies are a band of strangers, each in their own way lost; his goal is to save an unborn child who will restore God’s faith in his creation; his enemies, every other angel in Heaven’s army.

What’s wrong with it?

Legion is a crazy mess of a film, full of action scenes which are mostly just guns being fired off screen, and a lot of very confused exposition. The characters are pretty stock: The bitter father and his optimistic son; the single mother; the religious older black man and the good-hearted banger; the uptight middle class couple and their slutty rebel daughter.

What’s right with it?

The climactic battle between Michael and the Gabriel is actually pretty well done, and the film allows each of its characters their chance to shine, albeit mostly in death; apart from the uptight middle class couple, who are uptight and middle class and, therefore, the devil.

How bad is it really?

Legion is not terrible, but it’s not very good either.

Best bit (if such there is)?

Gabriel, a full on angel with wings and everything, and his fight with Michael are actually quite beautifully done. It’s no Avatar, but for the budget it’s impressive.

What’s up with…?

  • The woman who believes that she can make a deal with the army of the apocalypse? I mean, this is pretty well outside of what life prepares you for, but dead-eyed, ceiling-crawling possessed freaks are a sign, yo.
  • Evil demon children? In general. Yick.

Ratings

Production values – It’s not exactly summer blockbuster standard, but for what it is, the visuals are well done, and the production professional. 4
Dialogue and performances –  The performances run the gamut from staunchly professional to actually pretty decent, but the material they are given to work with is frankly a confused mess. 14
Plot and execution – Legion is… confusing. It’s essentially pretty straightforward, but drops bits and pieces around without really developing its underlying principles very well. 15
Randomness – As noted above, Legion keeps it simple, but still manages to be confusing. That’s impressive. 11
Waste of potential – So, this is basically what Gabriel could have been if it sucked less. It’s still pretty sucky, but not Gabriel sucky. 8

Overall 52%

Gabriel (2007)

Gabriel-2

“Far From Grace”

Directed by Shane Abbess
Starring Andy Whitfield and Dwaine Stevenson

The souls of the dead go either to Heaven, or to Hell, or to Purgatory, here depicted as Gotham City with the shine buffed off, locked in perpetual darkness because the Light is losing the eternal battle over the fate of the city’s souls. The last Arc Angel (sic), Gabriel, is sent down in human form to restore light to Purgatory with a pure heart, dauntless faith, and a pair of silenced .45s, but the Fallen are waiting for him.

What’s wrong with it?

Gabriel is one of those films that take elements from successful movies and emulates them badly. The film lifts from The ProphecyThe MatrixSin City and Blade, among others, but lacks the money or the talent to pull it off. It’s moody lighting is merely dark, its dramatic music overwhelming and laden with bathos, and its attempted mix of philosophical dialectic and hard-edged profanity comes out swinging wildly from childish potty mouth to dull and incomprehensible rambling. On the rare occasions when the film actually makes a point, it doesn’t seem to know what it is.

There is also an unpleasant aftertaste of misogyny in the fact that the one female Fallen is a pseudo-sapphic bondage queen and the only female Arc, having been beaten by Sammael, is reportedly raped and then forced into prostitution, and survives the slaughter of the other Arcs through pointless apathy.

What’s right with it?

Sadly, the handful of occasions where the film is actually saying something or getting a shot right are quickly spoiled by incompetent handling.

How bad is it really?

Oh my, it’s bad. It’s also, despite its level best efforts to be dramatic, dull as paste.

Best bit (if such there is)?

Perhaps the most memorable scene, in a somewhat horrifying way, is the reveal of Asmodeus’ whore, altered by plastic surgery to look like him.

What’s up with…?

  • The baffled and baffling denouement? ‘Sammael’ is revealed to be the fallen ‘Arc’ Michael, chafing under the authority of the Light. Rallying to defeat him, Gabriel declares ‘the Light isn’t control, it’s choice’, but then inexplicably decides that if he goes back to the Light then an unavoidable cycle will begin again and apparently kills himself. I guess the filmmakers suddenly felt bad that they weren’t sticking it to the man.
  • The terminology? Light instead of Heaven, okay, but ‘Arc’ instead of archangel? What’s up with that? Did they not realise that it has an actual etymology?
  • Everyone warning Gabriel that indulging human passions is how the Arcs lose their strength, then him having redemptive sex with the wingless Amitiel/Jade to save him from his own Fall? Actually, I’d be okay with this if I thought it was about being sex positive, rather than just getting some sex in the movie.
  • The conflicting messages that the Arcs are supposed to provide an example, then when anyone takes hope from Gabriel’s presence they get slaughtered like chumps?

Ratings

Production values – Much in the vein of the great Albert Pyun, bad movie superstar, Shane Abbess appears to know how to make a good film, he just can’t actually manage to do it. On a limited budget he tries to make something memorable and distinctive, but everything is actually derivative, and by failing to recognise his constraints, he produces something ill-lit, mumbling and confused. 16
Dialogue and performances –  Aside from the odd shouty bit, there isn’t much of note in any of the performances, with lines like ‘hello; how’ve you been’ getting the same level of emotion as ‘you were my brother and you betrayed me’. Still; any more effort would have been wasted on the lines. 18
Plot and execution – A mad jumble of ideas and ideologies, plus some stock bad guy nastiness and misogyny. 17
Randomness – The mishmash of philosophies; the sudden reversals; the redemption sex. 16
Waste of potential – It’s hardly an original or the most promising of concepts, but there is a lot of room to have done this better. 14

Overall 81%