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Monday, February 9, 2015

80's Inspired "Angel of the City" Webseries Opens With a Bang!

"ANGEL OF THE CITY" (2014)
Genre: Action
Length- 19:38
Company: Hey Killer Films
Website: Official YouTube

Fremont is a city on the edge.  The police force has been disbanded in the face of an intense surge of criminal activity and a crazed minister known simply as The Father (Don Sweet) is organizing thugs to indulge himself in horrific rituals.  When a group of his men kidnap the infant daughter of Ellie (Jennifer Nasta Zefutie), it's clear she's going to need a hero . . . and fast.

Enter William Cartwright (Larry Mihlon), a vigilante who the press calls the Angel of the City.  His guns and wits are the only things keeping Ellie's daughter alive.

Bring on the gunfire, action and lots of 80's inspired synths!

THE GOLDEN AGE OF ACTION

Writer/director Russell Hasenauer is a clear fan of 80's film styles, drawing from that period's golden age of violent action films and '70s Westerns -- Clint Eastwood would be at home in his vision of crime riddled Fremont.  From a production standpoint, every frame of this film is peppered with stylistic nods, from the heavily saturated color palette to the digitized grain.  The amount of love and care put into "Angel of the City" is simply breathtaking.

The problem is with the writing.  "Angel of the City" is the first episode in an ongoing webseries, and as a result it has to set up the big bad guy (The Minister) and the good guy (William Cartwright).

Seven minutes are dedicated to setup, and it's still not enough.  It feels like the leisurely beginning of a full length film.  If we started the film en media res, maybe seven minutes in or so, the pacing wouldn't drag as much.

MIXING IT UP

On top of that, there's a revelation toward the end of the film regarding Ellie and a photograph that I didn't quite understand -- what exactly was going on?  Maybe this will be solved in later episodes, but I'm only able to review this one film as a beginning, middle and end.

It is worth noting though that the body of films that serves as the inspiration for "Angel of the City" were not concerned with story or plot.  They were vehicles to watch imaginative action sequences.

By that criteria, "Angel of the City" nails exactly what they were setting out to accomplish.  It wears its 80's influences on its sleeve, and it serves up just the right amount of fromage with their homage.

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 2.5 / 5.  Hasenauer delivers an action story.  It doesn't try to be anything more than that -- it moves chess pieces into positions where they can work some action magic.  The only real failings are the over long beginning and the lack of explanation of Ellie and the photograph at the end.
Directing: 4 / 5.  The film is visually brilliant.  I adored almost every camera move they made -- it's like watching an undiscovered 80's action film and it's a blast from front to back.  Hasenauer and Director of Photograph Kris Night turn in something gorgeous with this one.
Editing:  5 / 5.  Hasenauer also edited the picture, and its his triple threat talents that really bring this film together.  It's a fully realized package -- from Djigit Brand's coloring, the gawkish pink titles courtesy of Jason Carne and that incredible end credit sequence.  I loved it.
Sound/Music: 5 / 5.  Sam Kuzel delivers the absolute PERFECT soundtrack for this film.  It's a synth score straight of a John Carpenter film, drawing from Assault on Precinct 13 and Escape From New York in equal measure.
Acting: 3 / 5.  it's a blast to see Mihlon look badass -- he has amazing eyes -- and Ronald Giles (Class of Nuke 'Em High) is a hoot as the driver, chewing up scenery like a genre pro.  Zefutie, Sweet and the men who played the thugs are the worst thespians on display here, but to their defense they don't have much to do.

Final Grade: 3.9 / 5.

Don't miss "Angel of the City" and follow the webseries on Facebook!






Thanks for reading! I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. Most recently, I've worked with LMC Productions and Mad Antz Films in Australia. I helped mold Goodybag Productions' award winning screenplay "The Teacher" and Michael Maguire's feature length script "The Wolfpack", which is still in development.

Check out my blog and let's get in touch!