Review: 'Fallen', Angst-Ridden Angels Engage In Lousy 'Twilight' Knockoff

"Better never than late" purrs bad boy rebel-angel Cam (Harrison Gilbertson) to befuddled human eye candy Luce (Addison Timlin) at one point in Fallen, and you'll likely agree with him after enduring this half-baked Twilight knockoff. Based on the first of Lauren Kate's romance YA novels, which have sold more than 10 million copies, the film isn't about warring vampires or werewolves, but fallen angels with a chip on their shoulders...er, wings. What's their beef? They refused to pick sides in the epic battle between the G-O-D and the Devil, and have been banished to attend reform school where even celestials fall into familiar social cliques.

It's at the Sword and Cross reform school that the troubled Luce arrives, still grappling with a friend's mysterious death that she may or may not have been responsible for. But who has time to worry about that when there are so...many...hot guys around, like the aforementioned Cam and the dreamy but evasive Daniel (Jeremy Irvine). Luce seems to have a connection with them both, but with Daniel it's a super-sized case of deja vu. Every time he's near the screen wipes and we see flashbacks, glimpses of another life that Luce remembers but can't possibly explain.

I get that this is just the opening salvo and any sequels, which are apparently in development, will flesh out the story but so little happens that it's tough to imagine anybody caring. Luce and Daniel frequently trade long, anguished look at one another without revealing what all the angst is about, while Cam broods somewhere in the background. Supernatural beings wrestling with their hormones is old hat, and we expect it to be overwrought but who asked for it to be such a chore? These angels have been around for thousands of years, you'd think they'd have learned how not to be such tools. See, this is why they were exiled. There's no mystery to Luce and Daniel's bond and even less romantic chemistry between them. Timlin is a strong actress but she's best when given a lot to work with from her co-stars, while Irvine isn't the most expressive actor around and probably never will be. It's a match made in Hell. The underrated Lola Kirke makes a case for stealing the entire film as Luce's nerdy pal, Penn, while Joely Richardson should have vamped up her role as the shady religion teacher. I think she's the only teacher in the school, actually. There's a shocking lack of students around which makes me think the reported $40M budget went elsewhere, although it wasn't on the special effects which are minimal and unimpressive.

Directed by Oscar-nominee Scott Hicks, best known for ShineHearts in Atlantis, and the unfortunate The Lucky OneFallen is an apt title for his career trajectory at this point. While he can't be blamed for the lousy script, cardboard characters, or clich├ęd premise, he's responsible for the lack of narrative momentum and visual flair...and for taking this gig at all when he's deserving and capable of better.

It didn't take long for Twilight to fall into self-parody and we've seen the YA brand evolve as a result, with diminishing results. Apparently somebody forgot to send Fallen the memo.

1.5 out of 5