Thursday, April 28, 2022

Fallen Angel / Ángel caído (Mexico, 2010)

It's been a long time (okay, maybe not that long a time) since the last time we felt justified to say it, but in the case of Arturo Anaya's Fallen Angel a.k.a. Ángel caído, we must warn you: "We've seen it so you don't have to." Not that you probably could even if you were a masochist who wanted to, at least in the English-speaking world, because it seems that the no sadist has yet deemed the film worthy of a dubbed English language version. Truth be told, no one probably ever will. Like Donald Trump — and so many of his proto-fascist acolytes — this flick sucks syphilitic elephant dick. 
Trailer to
Fallen Angel / Ángel caído:

In the wake of the mega-influential cash bonanza that was (and probably still is) Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003), everyone and their uncle turned to this or that literary source (or their own imagination) in hope of producing the next big series. We know not whether Ángel caído is based on some literary source or simply pulled from director Arturo Anaya's butt, but what we do know is that the movie functions and feels like a roughly two-hour-long prologue to a subsequent film. But that film never came; it is as non-existent as Arturo Anaya's current directorial career — so Ángel caído remains little more than a painfully overlong and tiring piece of fumbled foreplay that leaves one screaming for anything but more. Numbingly disinteresting and often boring, the film could easily pass as a poorly stitched together film version of multiple television episodes of some second-rate, turgidly paced mini-series. Worse, it doesn't even feel as if the TV series was even aimed for an adult market but, instead, was meant for pre-teens and purity-ring wearers.
Temporal and narrative jumps are interspaced with laughably clichéd interludes of monastic life, the training of fighting and magical skills, the sheltered lad going to college and befriending the rich rake, the chaste courting of a beautiful woman conveyed in a manner that would make a Disney film relationship seem sleazy, and spectacularly few action sequences. (Imagine, the final scene, played for straight like the whole unluckily too-terrible-to-even-laugh-at film, even includes the rich [former] rake now amongst those dressed in monastery robes.)
As an added attraction to all the overly formulaic narrative, most of the actors — even those who actually have tried-and-tested careers in Spanish-language (or at least Mexican) film, like Daddy Monk Angus (José Alonso of El hombre desnudo [1976 / trailer] and Motel [1984 / trailer]) or school director with an agenda Mr. Cain (Humberto Zurita of Under the Salt [2008 / trailer],  El asesino del zodiaco [1993 / murder],  Propiedad ajena [2007 / trailer],  Persecución infernal [1992 / trailer] and El Lamento [2016 / trailer]) come across as less than gifted of any thespian aptitude: they under-act and over-act, and but with the possible exception of the actress playing main female character of Persefone (Laisha Wilkins of The Zwickys [2014 / trailer]), they universally come across as lay actors desperately in search of talent.
Nowadays, one is hard pressed to talk of "Mexico" and "fantasy film" without making some reference to Guillermo del Toro, Mexico's greatest import outside of Tequila, tacos and donkey shows El Santo. But to bring that obviously talented man's name anywhere near the name of the obviously untalented director of Ángel caído is possibly a greater sin and bigger insult than any cheap P.I. joke about Mexico and/or illegal, back alley, beast-of-burden shows. Sure, some of del Toro's films are better than others, but from his first feature film Cronos (1997 / trailer) onward, del Toro has revealed an aptitude for layered, well-paced and enthralling stories with well-executed special effects, tight editing and eye-pleasing direction, not to mention nuanced performances from his actors. One can only assume that Anaya lacks all these skills, or at least sees then as immaterial to filmmaking, for one and all they are missing in Ángel caído. True, on a rare occasion, the screen might now and then be suddenly, unexpectedly, miraculously, graced with an amazingly beautiful, almost painterly CGI visual, but such sudden visual glories are not only far between but also oddly out of place in a cinematic disaster as blatantly terrible as this one.
And what is this slop bucket of filmic incompetence about? The usual: good versus evil. And as is so often the case, only one man (whom we watch grow up) supposedly stands between the survival of our planet and its demise at the hands of a conquering Lucifer and his fallen angels. Never has there been a more ineffectual hero, or a more tedious coming-of-age tale, or a more aggravating non-ending. Let us turn, for a moment, to the macho asshole that was the talented Norman Mailer (31 Jan 1923 – 10 Nov 2007) and a statement of his about another talented author he did not like, Jack Kerouac (12 Mar 1922 – 21 Oct 1969), but tweak it to fit Arturo Anaya: "[Arturo Anaya] lacks discipline, intelligence, honesty and a sense of [film or narrative]. His rhythms are erratic, his sense of character is nil, and he is as pretentious as a rich whore, sentimental as a lollipop."
One can see that with Fallen Angel / Ángel caído the director was, despite the movie's probable (as in obvious) low budget, aiming for the epic. And in a sense, he did achieve something epic: the movie is an epic misfire and epic turd. Scout's Honor: "We've seen it so you don't have to."

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