Image Entertainment // 2006 // 247 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // April 19th, 2010
Torn Between Good and Evil
For those of you not reading too closely in Genesis, there are a couple of references to these creatures called Nephilim. Since The Bible isn't too clear about what exactly these creatures are (it doesn't say more than they roamed a particular bit of desert, although Genesis implies that they were the children of men), scholars and fiction writers have had a field day with them since then. Since the word means "fallen ones," the most common interpretation is that the Nephilim are the offspring of a mortal woman and an angel. The TV movie Fallen pretty much runs with that idea, combining it with the concept of the heavenly war led by Lucifer (much like Prophecy). Throw in some kung fu, flaming swords, and suspect acting and you've got Fallen.
Aaron Corbett (Paul Wesley, Vampire Diaries) is your typical orphan: he's had some success as a wrestler at school, but the girl of his dreams barely knows he exists and he's a little distant from his foster parents. He walks up on his eighteenth birthday, and things don't seem quite right. He's got a splitting headache and suddenly he can understand a number of different languages, including his dog. A strange-sounding homeless man, Zeke (Tom Skerritt, Whiteout), tells him he's a Nehphilim, which means that he'll be the target of a group of angels bent on destroying any offspring of the fallen angels who dared to defy God. Aaron must save himself and his family while wrestling with his new powers, which apparently include the ability to redeem the Fallen.
Fallen was sent to Verdict as a screener, and what's here feels like it's only Part One. By the end of the film Aaron is revealed as the redeemer of the Fallen, and he's perfectly poised to travel the world having adventures saving the angels who sided with Lucifer. I wouldn't mention it except it perfectly encapsulates how Fallen works: it's obviously a mythology episode that's saving the bulk of its narrative power for future installments. We get a fairly heavy handed introduction to the mythology of Lucifer's war in heaven, some generic orphan back story for Aaron, some sketchy character development for mentor and father figure Zeke, and very little action for the film's 80 minutes. Taken as a pilot, it does a pretty good job setting up the world of angels and their powers while giving Aaron a good reason to be a redeemer. The show also sets up plenty of opportunities for future development, either in Aaron's family history or Zeke's.
However, since this is just the first part, we have to judge what's here, and what's here is only so-so. The characters and situation are interesting enough, but we've seen this kind of "young-man-discovering-he's-special" narrative so many times before it's become old hat. Fallen does absolutely nothing to distinguish itself from any of the other "special orphan" flicks. It's not horrible, but it's also just not that great.
From what I can see, the only reason that Fallen is getting any release at all is because star Paul Wesley has become popular on the CW show Vampire Diaries. All the press materials mention this link, and I can only assume his rugged good looks are expected to inspire most of the show's viewers. He does an okay job as Aaron, letting his All-American good looks carry him for some of the earlier moments, but he shows some decent chops towards the film's end. He's in the middle of the road as far as the performances go. Many (especially of the avenging angels) are hammy and over-the-top, while Tom Skerritt's practiced hand brings a tired dignity to the role of Zeke.
Image sent Verdict a screener, so final specs may differ, but from what I can see Fallen looks and sounds pretty good. The source looks clean and the film apparently had a decent budget. Some of the special effects can look a bit on the cheap side, but I didn't notice any compression or authoring problems. The audio was decent and unspectacular, with clear dialogue that was balanced well with the score. There were no extras on this screener.
Fallen is really only for the Paul Wesley faithful. Although it's perhaps above average for a TV movie/pilot, the story thus far is tired, the acting so-so, and the kung fu and flaming sword effects only passable. The disc might be worth a rental in between seasons of Vampire Diaries, but overall there's very little to recommend Fallen.
There's a reason they're Fallen, so these angels are guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 247 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated