Angel of Death
MGM // R // $25.98 // January 18, 2005
Review by Jeff Paramchuk | posted January 19, 2005
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There are a couple clues that stand out above the rest when it comes to the potential quality of a movie, the first being the director name. If Alan Smithee is involved, chances are high that the movie is not going to be making it on to a highly praised list anytime soon. The second tip is a movie where the name changes prior to being released on DVD, and even then more than two years past the initial release date. Angel of Death falls into the second category, even slipping through the cracks of the IMDB which has no listing of a movie of this name with this cast.

Originally released as Semana Santa starring Mira Sorvino and Olivier Martinez, this dud of a movie made it's way to North American shores with a translated and name change to what we currently see. The plot revolves around the Holy Week in the gorgeous town of Seville, Spain. During the week before Easter, Penitents parade through the streets in their hooded costumes leading massive floats which contain candles and hold statues of a weeping Mary, adorned with jewels for tears. However, this particular year something goes awry and people start showing up dead. Enter the under whelming performance of Mira Sorvino, who plays Maria Delgado, a cop who moved here to get away from Madrid.

It's not only that dead people are surfacing that makes the plot try to move forward, it's how they were killed and how they are connected. It seems that someone associated with bull fighting is committing the crimes, as banderillas have been used in all the killings. Olivier Martinez, who did a great job in Unfaithful, put in an atrocious performance as Quemada, the police officer who was investigating the crimes along with Maria.

Aside from the script, the largest disappointment with the movie was the performance from both the leads. Each actor seemed to phone in their performance; even then the phone call was on a generation one cellular phone, over international boundaries, with a dead battery and no antenna booster. The acting was so poor it was laughable. I found myself laughing out loud during a scene late in the movie where Quemada dove into a foyer of a building, wearing his Miami Vice suit and performed one of the worst entry rolls with gun drawn I have ever seen. I think that I even did better dives when I was a child playing out in the bush with a twig as my gun.

How's it Look:
The first few shots into Angel of Death looked quite well produced, with great style showing the candlelight processions of the Penitents. However, once the movie actually started, the look changed and things became quite dull and boring. Colors were muted and things just looked quite soft. Flashback sequences did look quite interesting as the footage took on more of a sepia tone to give the illusion of age and time passing.

Overall quality of the print was surprisingly quite decent. A lot of the film takes place in darkened areas and the blacks stayed black, it's just too bad the other colors didn't pop as much. Especially, given the banderillas are quite colorful and could have provided a nice impact with the contrast. I didn't notice much in the way of pixelation or dirt and dust on the print. Overall, just some minor complaints on the colors. Angel of Death is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio as the only video option.

How's it Sound:
An English and a French Dolby Digital 5.1 track are your options for audio pleasure when watching Angel of Death, why a Spanish audio track doesn't exist on a movie that takes place in Spain is beyond my comprehension.. Based on technical sound, I didn't have much to complain about as the sound stage was used just enough to envelope the listener, and not overblown. However one must add that the voices were quite obviously re-recorded and dubbed (poorly), because in some scenes the mouths don't match with the words too well. Going back to the acting issue from earlier, the enthusiasm from the actors in this movie really was obvious from the vocals...they had no enthusiasm. No emotion came through in the audio track, and it affects the entire movie as a result.

How're the Extras:
For once in my life, I think I am actually elated that there are no additional features to be watched here. No commentary (although, it would be nice to hear exactly what director Pepe Danquart was thinking), no deleted scenes, and no featurettes.

Although, something on the history of what Seville actually does during Holy Week might have actually been a decent thing to see. I do know that some of what was taking place in the movie actually occurs during this week, but more background could have been something that added some value.

Ok, there are a few trailers on here for some MGM movies, but nothing that really counts as boosting the entertainment or monetary value of the movie.

Final Thoughts:
Bad movies usually have one or two saving points, and to be honest with you there was nothing in this movie to save it. Even the slight detour into the Fascist history and the struggle that some civilians put into fighting Fascism wasn't interesting enough to make me want to watch the movie. The resolution to the movie was slightly convoluted as well, with very minor characters all of a sudden playing a large role in the outcome, with very little as far as explanation of why we should care about these people. As a package, there is nothing on this DVD that warrants a purchase that isn't anywhere else (this would be the trailers). I suggest staying away from this if you see it at your local store, it's not even worth the rental. Skip it.

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