Friday, August 17, 2012

How the Noble Have Fallen: A Movie Review (Blu-Ray)

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*full disclosure: a Blu-Ray screener of this film was provide by Warner Bros.

Director: Gregory Hoblit.

Writer: Nicholas Kazan.

Cast: Denzel Washington, John Goodman, Donald Sutherland, Embeth Davidtz, Gretta Milano, James Gandolfini, and Elias Koteas.

Tagline: "Detective John Hobbes is searching for a criminal he's already met...already caught...and already killed."

Fallen is a supernatural thriller that was originally released in 1998. In 1998, this film was released in theatres to large crowds. The cast including: Denzel Washington, John Goodman, Donald Sutherland and Elias Koteas were likely the reason for such a great debut. Recently, this title has been released on Blu-Ray for the first time as of August 14th.

This reviewer has seen this title a few times now. And, horror fans might remember a story of Detective Hobbes (Washington) fighting a demonic force. This force is formless and able to inhabit bodies at will. This demon, named Azazel, has to follow a couple of rules, however. It cannot live outside of a human being for more than a half breath. It also cannot inhabit the body of the noble such as a determined detective. Thus, a contest is formed between the supernatural and the mortal with director Gregory Hoblit's use of Ektachrome amplifying the demon's point of view.

Azazel has fallen from heaven much like Satan. He torments the living by forcing some to murder. Those Azazel cannot possess immediately are targeted for torture later. Det. Hobbes is just such a man. His moral right protects him, but it does not protect his family or friends. So, Azazel possesses those closest to Hobbes to turn the protagonist against himself. How many must die before Hobbes gives in to the demon's torturous ways?

Hobbes continues fighting until the end. As often happens in horror and supernatural thrillers, Hobbes is not able to eliminate evil. Hobbes is only able to use Azazel's constraints against him temporarily, but he is unable to eliminate the demon's presence completely. The hero is outmatched and the story ends more with a whimper and a mocking laugh than with a war cry.

Fortunately, the film is shot with an excellent and stylish type of film, Ektachrome. The scenes utilizing Ektachrome are used only when the demon is seeing events. This style of shooting amplifies colours, all of which seem to blend into each other. This film stock was also utilized in Three Kings. In this film, deserts were given a washed out effect. Both films have this unique look that set the scenes apart from any other film.

Fallen is not only visually stunning, but the film's execution is of quality. The acting from the A-list cadre of performers is top notch. There are no delays in the storytelling and the story itself is interesting and compelling. The story has also developed its own supernatural mythos that deals with angels and demons in a unique and dark way. There is more than nostalgia to enjoy in this latest release from Warner Bros.

Fallen on Blu-Ray is a must see. The visuals from the film are excellent and so is the storytelling. Production is top notch. This outing also includes an audio commentary from director Gregory Hobit, producer Charles Roven and writer Nicholas Kazan, which offers new insight into the film. Overall, Fallen is a great supernatural thriller that utilizes a few rules to give foolish characters a chance at heavenly greatness. Of course, humanity is not up to the challenge.

Overall: 7.5 out of 10 (as good now as 1998, good acting, great unnerving music, experimental visual style).

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