It's a Western with Kevin Sorbo. If you need to know more, read Judge Joel Pearce's review.
Our review of The Angel Collection, published July 1st, 2003, is also available.
Justice must be served.
Just to clear things up right off the bat, this is the review of a Kevin Sorbo (Hercules) TV-movie Western, produced by Hallmark. You can only expect so much from a movie with that modest pedigree. For what it's worth, Avenging Angel doesn't really disappoint as an acceptable Sunday afternoon nap companion.
Facts of the Case
An unnamed preacher (Kevin Sorbo) is burned out of his church by an evil ex-army colonel (Wings Hauser, The Stone Angel) and Sheriff Quinn (Nick Chinlund, Ultraviolet). When the preacher returns three years later, he finds a group of cheated settlers who are about to be pushed off the land, repeating the tragedy that happened to his wife and daughter. He can't just leave things alone, but he struggles with his inner conscience. At what point does justice turn to vengeance?
Here at DVD Verdict, we pride ourselves on reviewing a truly wide range of content. We try to approach small films with the same level of respect that we bring to mainstream blockbusters, because they are too often completely ignored by other media outlets. Of course, after sitting through a film like Avenging Angel, I can kind of understand why some media outlets don't bother with this brand of entertainment.
That's not to say that this is a bad television western, it's just that I don't have much to say afterwards. It is what it is. Avenging Angel features a tired storyline with several massive plot holes (a cowboy hat is not a very good disguise). It goes over horribly familiar territory in the world of Westerns, and once again exhumes the still-warm theme of vengeance and justice. This isn't a film that you would show your friends. It will never be anyone's favorite, and will never earn a cult following—even a small one. I expect many people saw it during its original television run, save several washroom and snack breaks. People will buy it on DVD, too. There is a market for this kind of movies, and many Western junkies are starving for new renditions of the stories that they love the most. I have a sneaking suspicion, though, that few of the members of this particular target audience will be reading this review before they buy it.
So who am I writing this for? I suppose I'm writing it for the fans of Verdict who read all of our reviews. We appreciate you, especially those of us who frequently review this kind of material. You are the ones who validate the amount of time I spend volunteering for this site. I suppose I am probably also writing this for the producers and participants of Avenging Angel, who may well stumble over this review somewhere down the line. This being the case, I will direct the rest to you.
First, a message to the cast. You did a decent job with the roles you've been given. I know you must show up on this kind of set realizing that you aren't making this for a gigantic audience of enthusiastic fans. I appreciate that you've put yourselves into the roles anyway. Kevin Sorbo can create a likable hero, and this role is no exception. This kind of film is usually marked with a cast that seems strangely absent or bored, and I didn't find that at all here: you showed up and did your job. Thank you for that.
Second, to the producers. I know that you don't have to put much work into these projects to get them out the door. They pretty much market themselves, and your audience doesn't change much, no matter how much work you put into the DVD package. That being the case, I appreciate how much work you've put in here. The DVD case looks quite nice, and you've even added some nice touches like embossed lettering. The transfer looks decent for a full-frame TV movie, and the Dolby Digital stereo sound has been put together with care. You've shown enough effort to include a heartfelt interview with Kevin Sorbo, who speaks with sincerity and candor about the production of the film. The production featurette reminds us how quickly and cheaply these films need to be put out the door. You've worked hard on it, and that's a good thing.
Finally, I need to say something to writer William Sims Myers and director David S. Cass. You are obviously two capable creative talents, and have put more into this project than was expected of you. Ultimately, though, I doubt this is the Western that you really want to make. Both of you are capable of much more, and shouldn't feel so constricted to stay within the boundaries set out for you by previous genre entries. Go make the movies that you really want to make—do something marvelous and unique and new, instead of simply retelling old stories that we've all seen before.
Ultimately, I can't really give Avenging Angel a strong recommendation. The people who want to see it have already seen it, and those who want to buy it have already bought it. If the idea of a Kevin Sorbo TV Western doesn't get you all excited, then the film won't either. It was better than I expected, though, and maybe that's enough to make it a bit special. Maybe.
Since Avenging Angel is what it is, I will let it go. If I see it again in these parts, however, I will be shooting first.
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