DIFF student review – Angel of the Skies crashes and burns

2013-07-24 13:58

City Press is proud to host student reviews of the films on offer at the Durban International Film Festival. The students are postgraduates from the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Culture, Communication and Media Studies department.

I was interested to learn that we have a South African World War 2 movie making its world premiere at the Durban International Film Festival.

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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3am9oxF8zk

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.

» See the festival schedule here.

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