Angel of the Skies (2013)
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I can forgive the CGI flight scenes that look like they came out of a game. Original planes from that period are far too rare and valuable to use to make a movie and special effects don't make a movie. The story makes the movie. Unfortunately the story is what let me down.
There is a phenomena called "suspension of disbelief" in a movie. Unfortunately they literally shot suspension of disbelief quite early. The cliché evil SS officer just blew it away. His actions were utterly illogical. His men didn't point out how his actions directly worked against the Third Reich winning the war.
The evil SS officer was the worst but it wasn't the only logical failure. Over and over I kept thinking "Why would they do that" and "What a wasted opportunity." I sincerely wish them better luck next time.
Well whilst over Germany they get shot and have to make an emergency landing and then decide to battle their way back to France and the safety of the British lines, this is set late in the war and Operation Overlord has already taken place so we are well past D Day. What happens next is the story of their journey.
Right, for war film buffs there are a few things wrong with this film, first off the planes are all CGI, which is not a problem as they are all done really well even the Mescherschmitts, with props that look real and proper smoke etc so well done there. Problem is these guys are flying during the day. By this stage of the war the USAAF were doing the daylight runs and the RAF were doing the night runs. And they had fighter escort in the latter stages when this is set and there are none here. They are also flying Liberators which were never deployed to bomb Bremen by the RAF as depicted here. Now you are doing CGI so you could have got a Lancaster or a Wellington even, but still never mind.
The acting is all quite good and the love interest in the shape of Kirky's beloved in good if underplayed Lillie Claire as the neglected and dutiful lover is actually really convincing. This does have its moments and is far from being a bad movie, but factual errors really annoy some people and it is not a real full on 'action fest' especially once the plane goes splat, but I still found a lot to actually like here, hence the rating. If factual errors annoy you then best to avoid, and it was originally released as 'Angel of the skies' in a reference to the plane and not the overblown title we have presented here.
"I rather liked the slowish pace in the beginning. I really was able to get to know each character and hence care about them as their various fortunes unfolded. If anything I could have had more character building, only because I occasionally got a tad confused between two of the airmen who looked alike. Overall, a superb and surprising film that manages to capture the allure of those old classic war movies that many of us oldies grew up on. Guns of Navarone, Battle of Britain, the Dirty Dozen. Yet the film has also succeeded in being contemporary. There were moments when it resonated and drew triggers from and with Inglorious Basterds, A delight to watch a 'home spun' film made with such technical expertise with a dead straight storyline with the magical and universal appeal of a boys own adventure novel. My only slight criticism was with the texture of the dialogue which sometimes had a audio quality that seemed not to match the environment it was enacted within. Thanks!" - Andre J Smith
The film is informative about the strains, stresses & foibles of the young men sent to bomb Germany. Others have commented on the unlikelihood of a joint RAF/US daylight bombing raid. Night war action seldom excites on film. So perhaps we can afford the film maker some poetic licence. The main air action sequence is pretty good.
It is also good that young white South Africans should cast about for what to be proud of in their recent history, just like Germany's postwar generation has had to do. Both generations live under the shadow of twin evils - Nazism & Apartheid. Innumerable German films have dealt with the German opposition to Nazism. Now we have young white South Africans recounting the tale of young white South Africans fighting Nazism in WW2. The decision to use the SS rather than regular Wehrmacht underlines how evil Nazism was.
One could be cynical and say the anti-Nazi heroics of a few can hardly make up for the decades of injustice under Apartheid which followed victory in 1945. But that is not the point. We are talking about post-Nazi & post-Apartheid generations who bear no responsibility for the previous evils of their countries. It is good that a story like the one portrayed in this film can be seized upon by young South Africans, white & black, to show they have a common story of opposing racism & oppression - but in different times & different places.
Now the bad. The South African actors used in the film struggle with the British accent. The portrayal of the SS is too clichéd but does add a dramatic tension which is otherwise rather lacking. The British soldiers appear rather too spic & span for troops who have been fighting their way across France since D-Day.
This was a horrible horrible movie. I don't even know where to start, the title sequence felt like it went on forever, with the same grainy film in a loop overlapping at what felt like a whole newspaper I had to read.
The visual effects were appalling. Felt like it was rushed by a 9th grader using 3D studio max for the first time.
The characters was one dimensional and the acting was just soooo soooo baaaaad.
The story was boring, after the first 15 min I lost interest.
And the sound..ARRRG the sound....The background sounds were out of place and repetitive. The voices in some scenes sounded as if it were re-dubbed.
The ONLY reason i'm giving it a rating of 2 out of 10, is that at least the costumes looked authentic.
Rather save your money and re-watch something brilliant like Full Metal Jacket, Platoon, Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, The Pacific or We were soldiers.
I enjoyed this film, special effects were not up to the par. Was it like this in the real war? Acting is sometimes good, sometimes bad, I am not sure which way it is swaying.
The scenes of crash landing should of been done better, you can see it was some sort of special effect which did not turn out the best.
Plot is similar to any other WWII films of this type.
Camera work, is sometimes excellent, like the scene when they are running in the forest. Sometimes not so good, like in the plane sometimes.
If you like good WWII action film this one is for you.
Initially I thought the acting a bit wooden. Slowly each of the main characters idiosyncrasies grew on me until they became almost believable characters and worthy of the "Actor" job-description. The exceptions were the girlfriend of the main protagonist and a truly SSified SS officer. She; really quite irrelevant to the story. He; relevant but preposterous. Why, in the 21st Century, did the director decide to have a German SS officer who came from the same mould Hollywood production lines fabricated in the 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's...? The man who played "SS offizer" wasn't even any good at acting a simple 2D stereotype.
Bomber flight formations were good even if the CGI was a bit naff, though one can't be too picky as the producers certainly wouldn't have had a Spielberg or Cameron budget (and they can create disastrously bad films costing tens to hundreds of millions., ie., , Titanic, Avatar, Saving Private Ryan, Schindler's List, Jurassic Park series).
The plot would have been better served with less time in the air and more time on enemy occupied ground as terrorfliegers cautiously avoiding the wrath of a heavily bombed people and SS Panzer division.
The girlfriend (story) could easily have been ditched with no loss, and the cardboard cutout SS officer spun into a more credible human being. Which, frankly, is what I'd hoped the film would be like when I read the TV schedule description.
The VW Kubelwagen the SS men were driving had a RIGHT hand drive. In Germany, right hand drive vehicles have NEVER been in use. Not even in WW2.
The list of errors goes on and on and on...
Too much crap, not enough believable action!!! Compared to such greats as Reach For The Skies, or The Battle Of Britain, this REALLY sucks!!!
The accents were simply laughable and removed any sense of authenticity. As some of the other reviews have noted, the background sound design is obviously looped and this gets boring quickly.
The CGI was also basic, which in some cases can be charming, in this case however it just looked cheap.
I didn't finish watching this movie, I wouldn't recommend you start.
The film opened well enough, with a CGI dogfight over the Channel but it plummeted downhill from there. The CGI used wasn't a problem for me, it saves money and there aren't many WWII planes left to play with. The film was so full of holes it took away any sense of respectability.
The first problem was the acting, particularly the pub scene. Lots of wood speaking with very strange accents and it didn't endear me to the cast as it was supposed to. Then we had an RAF bombing raid flying during the day. This was the job of the Americans, the RAF went at night. They went with no fighter escort and the side gunner hanging out of the side opening was ridiculous.
After the plane went down, the crew broke all the rules of getting home, they traveled by day and slept at night, no one keeping watch, all sleeping. They also used a barn on a farm in Germany in an area they knew they were being hunted. It just got more laughable. Two go out to rescue a captured mate, taking a short cut given to them by the farmer's wife, and manage to run through and catch up to a motor vehicle and overpower it. They manage to shoot a German with a revolver while a German soldier with a machine gun missed them from the same distance. OK. This is now showing the Allies were great and the Germans useless. There was also an SS Captain who was every comic book cliché an SS man could be. There was a lot more to criticize but let's just say I was willing the SS to catch them quickly and put an end to the film. I really didn't care about the most unlikeable aircrew I've seen in a film.
All in all. Bad story, badly done and I've seen better acting at AmDram. Forget it.
The acting was also awkward and stilted, on the one side they tried to reproduce the attitudes and culture of the time but then threw in swearing which belonged in a Vietnam era film. On the whole I thought it was total nonsense and a waste of time.It belongs in the 99c bin at K Mart.
There are certain breeds of movie that we don't see often. Science fiction and Westerns commonly top the list, but war movies are also frequently spotted in attendance. Our friends out at Entertainment One, meanwhile, look to fix that with "Angel of the Skies," a movie that takes another look at World War II, this time through the aviators' eyes.
"Angel of the Skies" follows Earl Kirk, a South African man who leaves his pregnant fiancée to go fight in World War II as part of the Royal Air Force. There's no shortage of fighting left to go, and eventually Kirk is shot down along with his crew, forced to parachute into occupied territory. Now, the handful of men who escaped death in the skies must set out on foot, dodging a vicious SS officer who will go to any lengths to finish the job his countrymen started in the sky.
The good thing about "Angel of the Skies" is its wonderfully immersive quality. This feels like a look at the war, in this era, and at this point in time. It's deliriously authentic; it's like being there. It's the next best thing to actually being there. But this immersive nature also means the movie sacrifices a lot in the way of action, particularly in the early going. I don't believe I heard a shot fired in anger for the entirety of the first half hour, and that's a bit of a lag. Considering the movie only packs around 100 minutes to its name, losing roughly a third of those to a gunshot-free existence is a tough road to hoe.
Still, the further good news is that once it gets started, it gets started in earnest. There's more than its share of action, with a good bit of suspense tossed in for extra fun. It's always good when a genre movie can toss in elements of other genres–action blends with suspense or horror, comedy blends with action or a Western, and so on. "Angel of the Skies" does a fine job of mixing, and gives us a wonderful synthesis. War buffs, you'll not be disappointed, and action buffs in general, this is a fine slice of cinematic action.
Special features include a trailer for "Angel of the Skies," a set of audio options and English subtitles.
Though it takes a while to get started, "Angel of the Skies" will do a very nice job overall. A slow start isn't near enough to cut the tension that will be sparked throughout this one, and the whole thing will make an excellent addition to the roster of war movies out there.
It's a real pity, too, because as a former radar operator I appreciated the genuine-sounding dialogue of the flight crew. But after the characters land on the ground, the realism becomes garbage. When the stereotypically-evil SS officer ordered a civilian German woman to be summarily shot for no reason, I could not continue watching. German officer saw their role as protecting Germans, as all military men do. Yes, the SS were fanatical Nazis.. that didn't mean they killed German civilians for fun. These film makers seem to know or care little of history, whereas I do, because as I like to say, those who know nothing of history are condemned to repeat it. (Yes, that's my line. :))
Angel of the Skies has received mixed reviews by some critics. The biggest criticism of the movie has been its historical accuracy. There are some issues with said accuracy. But one must also take into account that no movie ever based on historical events was one hundred percent accurate in itself. That being taken into account, it really is not that bad of a movie within its genre. The story itself is worth a watch first and foremost for the themes tied into the overall story. Writer/director Christopher-Lee dos Santos ties into his story, the themes of brotherhood, determination, and dedication. He does so in a way that none of the themes overpower themselves through the course of the movie. They actually work together to give the story an emotional depth that will keep viewers engaged through the movie's near two-hour run time. The story's theme of dedication works quite well in a dual role here. On one hand, the theme of dedication works as it is linked to the sub-story between Flight Officer Earl Kirk and his girlfriend, Deborah Caldwell (Lillie Claire—Supernatural, Suing The Devil) and to the dedication of the flight crew to one another after their plane is shot down. That theme of dedication among the flight crew directly compliments the script's theme of brotherhood, too. Even in the greatest of odds, the men refuse to leave one another behind if at all possible, and will do whatever it takes to save one of their own from Nazi officers. In turn, that theme of brotherhood is directly linked to the theme of determination. The men were determined to survive and survive together at all costs. Each of these themes work together seamlessly to make a story that is worth at least one watch by any history buff and film buff.
The interweaving themes that make up the script behind Angel of the Skies are central to the movie's ability to keep viewers engaged. They collectively aren't all to be considered. The acting of the cast helps to move the story along, too. The actors that make up the movie's cast are largely unknowns. Despite that, they put on a believable performance. This is the case both by themselves and together. The men that make up the flight crew do quite the job in their roles. As enjoyable as it is to watch them take on their roles, it's the vile SS officer Stutze that truly stands out in this movie. Stutze (David James ~ District 9) is truly ruthless in his attempts to locate the South African airmen and carry out his duties. Not to reveal too much, but he is so vile that he goes so far as to have his men kill a German milkmaid that had protected the airmen after they were shot down. This after he told her that everything would be okay. He even gunned down a defenseless American soldier early on as part of his character's setup. The ability of an actor or actress to make his or her character that despicable means that said individual is more than doing his or her job in said role. If the combined themes aren't enough to keep audiences engaged through the story, then that juxtaposition of character types and roles will definitely do its part to keep viewers engaged.
The general writing and acting that comprise Angel of the Skies combine to make it a movie that is well worth at least one watch. They don't work by themselves, though. The movie's special effects and backdrops play their own role in making this movie worth at least one watch. Unlike so many other WWII based movies, this movie mixes CG with live action. The flight scenes are largely computer generated. It's obvious where the computer elements were used, too. But at least they weren't as cheesy as those used in the 2006 James Franco WWI flop, Flyboys. One almost couldn't tell the difference as the bombers were flying into German airspace. The only times that one could tell for certain that computer graphics were used were when the bombers came under fire from the Messerschmitts and when the flight crew's bomber crashed. The rest of the movie's story was set against a live action backdrop. What's interesting about the live action backdrop is that it didn't feel as over the top as those used in some other WWII era dramas. It felt more real for lack of better wording. That is an area in which far too many movie makers get things wrong. Too many movie makers look for settings that will enhance their movies. And it only serves to lessen the movies in question to a certain extent. That isn't the case here, though. That realistic feel combines with the movie's writing and the cast's acting to make it a movie that despite being an indie flick is still one worth watching at least once by any history buff and movie buff.
Captain Earl Kirk (Nicholas Van Der Bijl) has been fighting several years for the British. He is of course a South African and is looked down upon a new for not being totally British.
A young replacement by the name of Lt. Raymond Hawkins (Andre Frauenstein) has the cheek to question the authority of Captain Kirk. The crew are celebrating the night before a mission and Kirk has just left the new replacement. He is a little rattled by the young Lieutenant. Kirk is wanting to propose to his girlfriend Deborah (Lillie Claire) but she is not having it at this time.
The next morning the crew are ready to go and their mission in Bremen to destroy some fuel dumps. These dumps are crucial for they are refueling the Panzer's in France with little problem. The crew, Flight Officer Ed O'Donnel (Brad Backhouse), Flight Officer Harry 'Abe' Facey (Jason Glanville), Flight Sgt. Robertson (Adam Boys), and Flight Sgt. Don McEvoy (Ryan Dittman) are practicing a good luck charm of pissing on the wheel.
The mission is unusually normal until they head over France and enter German Air Space. The sky is covered in Flack from the German guns below. The plane is hit by a fighter plane and is only able to make it to Bremen. They will have to either bail out or crash land.
Now Kirk has had to deal with the plane, the new replacement, and now he has to land behind enemy lines. Will they make it back to the Allies? You will have to watch the movie to see the ending.
The film is excellent and is one of the better WWII movies I have seen as of late. Director Christopher-Lee dos Santos has put together a wonderful movie and I look forward to the next movie he puts together.
The DVD itself is excellent. The sound was beautiful and the scenes were beautifully done. This is a must see film and I hope you will take the time to pick it up. Enjoy.
The visual effects are not Hollywood quality, what do you expect from a film where the director himself, sat alone for 2 years doing the visual effects (www.chrisdossantos.com). The VFX may not be as great as what Hollywood has made people become accustomed to, yet they are good enough to tell the story, which is what counts in my opinion. I personally thought the fighter scenes in this particular film were more realistic that those of Lucasfilm's latest attempt, Red Tails. Red Tails had an astronomical budget, and their visual effects were done by none other that the legendary ILM, and yes, they are amazing, but they distract from the story and are unnecessarily over the top, very unrealistic.
The pace of this film is slow, which I believe works. This isn't an action movie, even though it may have been marketed as one, I believe the distributors thought they could make a quick cash in by convincing a certain audience this film is for them. As stated, it's not an action film, in fact, there is very little action for the most part. The characters are well thought out. They have depth, a reason for us to like them and to care whether they live or die.
I strongly suggest watching the Making of, which comes with the DVD. After seeing what limited resources were given to the filmmakers, I watched the film again asking how did they achieve any of this with the budget they had. After watching Angel of the Skies and reading up more about the film's long battle to get made, I am filled with hope that indie films have a chance to make successful films and earn a living in an ever saturated market.
I take my hat off to the filmmakers for achieving what they set out to achieve.
Now, the thing with most war movies, and in particular those depicting the Second World War, is that they show the brutality of that dark period in human history, and through that brutality weave in an element of optimism and hope.
This is exactly what I expected when I sat down to view Christopher-Lee Dos Santos' Angel of the Skies.
Dos Santos' movie contained all the elements that make war movies good and enjoyable, including a clearly defined hero and the beautiful woman he leaves at home in order to fight for the honour and glory of his country, along with, above all, the ruthless Germans who kill with little, if any, pity.
The opening credits for Angel in the Skies are nostalgic, all very 1940s. The screen is illuminated in glorious black and white, with newspaper articles from the period.
The wonderful credits, though, were instantly shot down by the poorly executed opening sequence showing a couple of aircraft engaged in a dogfight. It was poorly animated compared with scenes that followed.
Dos Santos made many more questionable decisions in making his film, including bad accents (and actors) topped with horrible special effects, all ultimately done in by a weak script.
On several occasions, the pace of the film dragged. Numerous scenes just did not do anything to progress the narrative or help develop the characters – even more so when it's a gratuitous sex scene.
The plot of the movie is that during the height of the conflict, when Britain declares war on Germany, a South African pilot, flight Lieutenant Officer Earl Kirk volunteers to serve in the Royal Air Force, leaving behind his pregnant fiancée to protect and serve the British Empire.
However, while flying over Europe, the Germans shoot down the plane he and his crew are flying. They land on German soil.
Action dominates the film's romantic narrative. At one point I had completely forgotten that a fiancée back home had been introduced.
Apart from its opening credits, the film's only vaguely redeeming feature was the score.