In order to foil a terrorist plot, an FBI agent undergoes a facial transplant surgery and assumes the identity and physical appearance of a terrorist, but the plan turns from bad to worse when the same terrorist impersonates the FBI agent.
Seth is an angel who accompanies the spirits of the recently dead to the ever after. Seth has never been human and so has never experienced touch or taste. When in the hospital however he comes across Dr. Maggie Rice, a brilliant young heart surgeon who is devoted to her profession and her patients. Seth has the power to let himself be seen but Maggie finds him far too mysterious. Seth also meets a patient, Nathaniel Messinger, who has news for him - he too was once an angel like Seth but chose to fall to Earth and become human. Seth makes a decision on his future, which does not turn out as he had expected.Written by
This horrendous remake takes a takes a clever, warm, ebullient film - Wings of Desire - and turns it into a big budget version of a Lifetime Original Movie.
The plot of both films is simple : Angels are all around us, they are the invisible recorders of human history, they do not get involved in human life. But one angel decides he wants to become human, in this version it's simply because he falls in love with a woman, and falls to earth. It goes on from there...
The ironic thing is that American remakes usually redo rather dark European films as big dumb action flicks and/or lighthearted romances. But City of Angels redoes a joyous, sweet film as the penultimate cheesy melodrama. Here the classic American overkill is not with more explosions and sex, but with more desperate, gaudy, manipulative solemnity and pretension.
In the original, Bruno Ganz plays Damiel, the angel, with a kind of casual elation. He falls to earth not simply because he falls in love, but because he wants to enjoy human life, the simple pleasures - coffee, cigarettes, the circus, children, color, smell, singing, sex, etc... And he doesn't have to have a freakin' epiphany with each discovery of a small part of human existence, part of the point is that he becomes acclamated because he is already more human than angel to begin with. Nicholas Cage plays Damiel like a terrified alien, most of the time feeling very very sorry for us sad humans, and occasionally shedding profound tears of wonder at our potential for good. Honestly I felt like punching Nicholas Cage in his poignantly wistful face every five minutes.
An even more blatent example of the needless overdramatizing comes in the form of the leading lady's role. In the original, the object of Damiel's affection is Marion, played by lovely and talented Solveig Donmartin. Marion is a trapeze artist who lives life to the fullest, but is dreamy and aimless, searching to find a true connection. In the remake, Meg Ryan is a *heart surgeon* trapped in the depths of a horrific depression over the meaninglessness of life and the pain of death. Can I get an oy veh? The love story in the original is quirky and fresh, the lovers spent the majority of time searching for each other, and when they do get together, it is one of the most beautiful and satisfying moments ever caught on film, totally totally devoid of shmaltz. The love story in the remake is ALL SCHMALTZ. Every moment they spend together is meant to be utterly profound, the height of joy and the height of despair - totally maudlin and manipulative. ICKY.
All the problems with the remake stem from these misguided attempts to make the film serious and meaningful. It's bad high-school poetry.
The real tragedy is that because Wings of Desire is a German movie, because it has a reputation for dealing with a lot of very profound and intellectual ideas, because it is very *complex*, people are turned off. I am here to tell you that, yes, Wings is more profound, more intellectual, more complex than City of Angels, but if you give it a chance, it is also lighter, funnier, more joyous, more entertaining, more beautiful, and more magical than City of Angels. Go see the original!!!
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