Science fiction and fantasy                                            



Gabriel

directed by Shane Abbess

Gabriel poster  
Gabriel (Andy Whitfield) is the last of the seven Arcs, an angel who comes to Earth and assumes human form. His job is to fight for the souls of humans, against the fallen. The seven Arcs seem to be fighting a losing battle as the fallen have gained control and darkness reigns.

The action takes place in a city that's dark in both senses of the word. It's full of the homeless, the desperate, of prostitutes and criminals. This film is full of washed-out colours and grimy faces. It's a clichéd look that perfectly complements the hackneyed characters. The fallen are easily distinguished by their glowing eyes and their taste for violence and bad-guy couture.

The premise of an angel coming down to Earth has a lot of potential for fish-out-of-water humour and interesting interactions between angels and sceptical ordinary people. But Gabriel wastes this opportunity by focusing on fighting, making the battle for souls a very literal one. The characters can move with unnatural speed, in spite of their supposed human forms, although their powers do wane over time. However, the effects in this film might have been acceptable in the 90s, but for 2007 they don't impress. For a movie that relies so much on fighting, it's battles are unconvincing: they're bloody but dull.

"Forgive me" is Gabriel's catchphrase, and it's even the very first line he utters. It's the screenwriters who should be asking for forgiveness for such flat and obvious dialogue. There isn't a line of witty banter in the entire film, not a moment when the atmosphere of grim seriousness is shaded with a little levity, or at least some nuance of feelings. For a story with a religious basis there's a curious lack of touchy-feely moral issues. Anything that gets in the way of a smackdown has been discarded.

Other than their allegiance and the look of their eyes, it's difficult to distinguish Gabriel from the fallen, in terms of his behaviour. Couldn't they find a better way to fight evil than by waging war? This is an unimaginative movie, and just about every aspect, right through to the overly melodramatic ending, emphasises how brain-dead it is.

Gabriel is a very low-budget effort, and though this is obvious in the effects it's a poor script that really hammers the nail into this movie's coffin. Andy Whitfield's intense portrayal of Gabriel is perhaps this film's best feature, but after a while his serious attitude becomes overwhelming, and it's not enough to rescue this snoozeathon.

Film Details

Year: 2007

Categories: Films

  Fantasy

Classification: 15

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1 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson