Directed by #JeffordHumes
Film review by Nathanial Eker
Ever since 2014's The Lego Movie, filmmakers have looked to capture the next big toy-inspired way of making movies. Such is the case with Jefford Humes, a director - screenwriter - actor - and pretty much everything else, who has made a film set entirely in the online world of Roblox - a game creation system launched in 2006. While the effort is certainly there and the documentary segment at the film's end presents a man bursting with passion, Angel is regrettably a snooze-fest, and a baffling one at that.
Alex is a seemingly normal boy, haunted by dreams of strange angelic knights that warn him of a great catastrophe to come. He discovers there is more to humanity than meets the eye in a story that blends science fiction with mythological fantasy.
Describing it in those few sentences may deceptively make it seem like this genuinely compelling premise would be the film's focus. Sadly, the screenplay feels more like a stream of consciousness than a well-thought out map of intent, as random transitions lead to pointless scenes and so much filler that the actual plot barely raises its head until about thirty minutes in. Everything presented prior to this point is dreadfully dull, with obvious jokes, stereotypical characters, and dialogue so on the nose it's practically up the nostril.
The Roblox format also does nothing but distract, as important scenes are ruined by basic animation faults or the name of a player hovering above our lead character's heads, reminding us that this service was not meant for making films. Though it seems trite to say, there is no semblance of a mise-en-scene present. Every setting is a hasty recreation which - while impressive as an in-game creation - is not a satisfactory representation of what is meant to be happening.
Characters fare just as poorly, as each are offered only a few facial expressions which do nothing to give us a sense of who they are, a problem not aided by Humes' questionable desire to voice every single one. It becomes difficult to invest in a love scene when it's clearly just a man speaking to himself using a higher pitch, for example.
The message behind Angel is also unfocused, yet well-intended. The notion that everyone can change the world is a respectable MO that is good for children to hear. However, that does assume that they haven't already switched off thanks to the film's horrendous pacing, which allows for arduous scenes that both serve no plot function or adequately present anything resembling character development.
However, there are moments of genuine entertainment, such as a few drole jokes that stick the landing and well-implemented music. It's also worth noting that nothing in Angel will negatively impact your child, though it may send them straight to sleep. As a tool to keep very young children busy it could hit the mark, though the complicated exposition that blends reality with fictional mythology may lose them.
Angel is clearly a passion project with a tonne of love put into it. Unfortunately, love can't save it from committing the primal film sin of just being boring. It offers only the most basic requirements to be classed as a film and its thinly veiled plot is transparent from the beginning.
The models may be three-dimensional, but this film is anything but.