Actually, this movie is pretty interesting; I just think I need to reserve the Full Price designation for something more…I don’t know, maybe less forgettable. Directed by Gregory Hoblit, he who bought you Primal Fear (Richard Gere, Edward Norton), Fallen has fallen victim to its own marketing campaign. Instead of being the silly, NYPD Blue meets X-Files demonfest it looks like it will turn out to be, it’s more of an interesting, unsolvable-by-normal-means crime drama with a supernatural twist. One moviegoing companion pointed out that we learn too much about the enemy, and perhaps that is the problem. I noticed that even the preview gives too much away (what is with that, anyway? Remember when they were accurately described as “teasers?”) and that detracted from the fun of discovery.
I won’t tell you anything about it save that cop Denzel Washington puts away a bad guy but it turns out the bad guy was much much more than that, and now the evil essence is roaming the streets. Sounds stupid, yes, but it’s carried off with remarkable aplomb.
For lack of a better word, the “demon-cam” is a very interesting part of the movie – my favorite scene is the one with all the camera work and extras and where Washington realizes what’s going on. Let’s hear it for the DP, Newton Thomas Sigel! The script throws you a few red herrings, but not many, and some mildly pat “this is the mystic part” moments, but it is still engaging; more in that you want to know how Denzel will resolve the issue, rather than due to the subject matter. It builds pretty slowly but it doesn’t drag, giving you information as it feels like it. Ultimately it answers more questions than an X-Files episode as well.
The best part of the movie for me, the freak, was trying to pick out which extras will get used in bigger parts – the whole movie is a casting director’s party – extras tend to be cast because they are unremarkable, yet here are people who have to be unremarkable until they suddenly become central to the plot . It’s kind of like Saturday morning cartoons, where the part of the rocks that will come tumbling down is more vividly colored or strongly outlined than the rest of the cliff, so you know that portion will be moving and the rest is just the background painting. Again, the preview ruins a large portion of this movie, and I would like to start some kind of uprising to prevent that kind of thing.
On a side note, they also need to start mixing multiple versions of previews, and of course, stop ruining pivotal plot points. Maybe this is just me and my friends, but if I saw the Mad City preview one more time I was gonna take a bank hostage – and if I see one more Great Expectations preview, I swear to all that is holy that I will burn down the director’s house*. Spielberg previews are the best – they show almost nothing but totally suck you in. Godzilla’s previews have also been nicely resistant to this ULTRA-ANNOYING trend. But I digress.
Fallen prompted some discussion when it was over, which is quite a recommendation in and of itself.
*Legal note – if that guy’s house burns down, I really didn’t do it. I don’t even know who directed it because I cover my ears when I hear that mod music.
MPAA Rating R for violence and language.
Release date 1/16/98
Time in minutes 124
Director Gregory Hoblit
Studio Warner Brothers