Reviewed by Uncle Creepy
Starring Andy Whitfield, Dwaine Stevenson, Samantha Nobel, Michael Piccirilli
Directed by Shane Abbess
Distributed by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Even though I am agnostic, I am still a sucker for films with religious themes. Don't get me wrong; I'm not talking about stuff like The Ten Commandments. I'm talking The Exorcist, The Omen et al. No matter how you slice it, religion can be pretty scary. We've all heard the stories -- if you don't live your life a certain way, you're going to be sentenced to burn in the fires of Hell for all eternity. While said belief doesn't exactly invoke the all-forgiving light and love of God, it can be quite effective material when handled the right way. Enter the Australian indie flick Gabriel.
The story is a bit on the familiar side. The Arcs (angels) are at war with the Fallen (fallen angels, duh!) to control the balance of purgatory (life on Earth?). Something ends up going horribly awry during this latest clash between good and evil. Simply put, the bad guys have wiped the floor with the all-mighties. As you could well imagine, this doesn't sit well with the man upstairs who lives in the sky and controls the lightning. It's not long before "the source" (God, as it is referred to as in the film) sends his best soldier, Gabriel (Whitfield), to the old battlefield to get a handle on the situation. Unfortunately for Gabriel, by the time he gets his feet on the ground, things are even worse than he could have ever imagined. His fellow Arcs have either lost their faith, their lives, or even their wings courtesy of the uber-evil Sammael (Stevenson). So what's an angel to do when he finds himself down on his luck and facing incredible odds? Bust out the old pistolas and start doling out hot lead for the Lord, that's what!
Gabriel is a surprisingly solid film. From beginning to end it's a headsy, visually arresting thrill ride packed with solid performances, amazing effects, and great action. There are a few times when the pacing drags a bit and things get a little too wordy, but the lulls never last long. You may not have heard the name Shane Abbess just yet, but I'm predicting within a few years we'll be well acquainted with it. Rarely have I seen such a promising directorial debut.
One sitting through the special features, and I guarantee you'll appreciate this movie even more. During the three behind-the-scenes featurettes that clock in at about an hour and a half(!) total, we get to follow Gabriel through some truly tumultuous times. Apparently just before it was scheduled to start shooting, the company who was set to insure the production dropped out and the filmmakers were required to go with someone twice as expensive. This shrunk their already small budget considerably, and as a result the film was almost shelved. Thankfully the passion of the folks responsible pulled it together, and thirty-five days and just under two hundred thousand dollars later we have what we see here. Just incredible. One look at this movie and you'd swear it was big budget. I'm still amazed by this. Gabriel's tale from script to screen is enthralling and makes for some really good supplemental material. Add on about eight minutes of deleted scenes, and what we have here is a lean and solid package.
Gabriel stands head and shoulders above the usual direct-to-video fodder. In fact, there's nothing usual about this movie at all. Go to your stores, cue up your Netflix, or take the plunge and click the link below to make your purchase online!
Saints be praised!
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
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