What a bunch of uncaring, callous scoundrels. That's the biggest problem with 'Angels Crest,' a movie based on a novel by author Leslie Schwartz. Its characters are unfeeling, selfish jerks. Every one of them. It's like watching a group of self-centered assholes trying to deal with grief and loss. Why would anyone want to watch that? Oh wait, no one did want to watch it. 'Angels Crest' only made, according to BoxOfficeMojo.com, $832 domestically.
The movie centers on a sad tragedy which is made even gloomier by the way the people act after the tragedy takes place. Ethan (Thomas Dekker) is the proud, single father of his young son Nate. Nate is a precocious youngster. He likes to explore and pretend, you know, like most little kids. They live in the snow-covered Rocky Mountain town of Angels Crest. One day Ethan takes his son up in the mountains to watch the falling snow and track some deer. Only when he gets to the special spot, Nate is sound asleep in his car seat. Thinking that everything will be fine, Ethan hops out of the car and proceeds to track a deer into the woods (yes, this is the type of intelligence that is on display the entire movie). Most of us wouldn't even think about leaving our kids in the car. If I run over to the neighborhood convenience store I unlatch that giant car seat and carry it right in with me even though it weighs around 20 pounds. Leaving my kid inside a car, in the mountains, during a snowfall? There's no way in hell. Yet, Ethan does just that and the consequences are disastrous.
Once Nate is gone, lives in the small town start to crisscross at a dizzying pace. There's Nate's mother, Cindy (Lynn Collins), a drunk and reprehensible human being. Collins has been told that the more she sneers at the camera the drunker she'll seem. There's Cindy's mother (Barbara Williams) who happens to be a religious zealot who lays it on so thick you'll think that they snatched this character right out of the Stereotype Factory. Then there are the town lesbians Jane (Elizabeth McGovern) and Roxanne (Kate Walsh) who are making jokes about "being wet" hours after poor Nate has gone missing and has probably frozen to death. There's Angie (Mira Sorvino) who owns the town café and whose presence in the film seems rather needless. I still have no idea why she was about to have sex in the kitchen of her restaurant or what it had to do with the story at all. Why was she even in this movie? Rusty (Joseph Morgan) is quite possibly Ethan's brother, although honestly I have no idea. Finally, we have Jack (Jeremy Piven) a local prosecutor who is looking to charge Ethan with negligence in the death of his son. Jack has some of his own skeletons, which are simply kept ambiguous and in the end have no bearing on the plot whatsoever.
All of the characters described above are generally unlikable. Sure there are some great actors peppered in there. Most people will know Elizabeth McGovern as Cora Crawley from 'Downton Abbey.' You also have seasoned actor Jeremy Piven who can be great in the right stuff, but as we've seen from this and 'I Melt with You' it largely depends on the material given to him.
This movie wants to be all about grief, yet none of these characters appear to be suffering all that much. They walk around spouting stilted dialogue that sounds as if it was churned out by The Grief Machine 2000. The way they interact with each other is simply laughable. None of these people seem to be feeling anything remotely resembling remorse. Most of them have no real effect one way or the other on the plot at hand. Why we had to delve into the silly subplot of Jane's son and pregnant girlfriend coming to stay with them for a while is beyond me. It only served to shoe-horn in a few "teaching moments" about accepting lesbians for who they are. No teaching moments have felt more out of place.
It's disgusting how self-centered all of these characters are. They're flat, one-dimensional "me, me, me" machines. A poor kid has frozen to death in the wilderness and we're getting lectured on homophobia? What in the world is going on here? The frosty surroundings have apparently turned the inhabitants of Angels Crest into icy idiots.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This Magnolia release comes pressed on a 25GB Blu-ray Disc. It comes in a standard size Blu-ray keepcase and is coded for Region A use.
At the beginning of the film the 1080p presentation doesn't look half bad. The snow-covered visuals of the Rockies shine as brightly as any nature documentary. There's a scene at the beginning where Ethan comes across a pristine river banked by snow on both sides. The high mountain river appears as a beautiful shade of dark blue. There certainly is beauty to be had in this transfer, but much of the beauty is gone in the first 15 minutes or so.
What follows after the stunning scenery, is a below average depiction of detail and shadows. Blacks are awfully flat here. They give off that flat shiny blue look. Crushing is a major problem that never lets up. I did notice a few scenes with light banding and aliasing. While the opening nature visuals are stunning the rest of the movie pales in comparison. The blacks present a real problem here. Ethan's hair disappears into a mat of flat blackness. Wherever blacks are, there is no representation of any sort of detail.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix also leaves a lot to be desired. Considering its source, a very low budget film, the sound isn't all that bad. However, compared to anything else out there, we're looking at a very underwhelming audio presentation.
Dialogue is clear for the most part, but whispers seem to get lost often. Surrounds are relatively silent. The only time they really perk up is when groups of searchers are yelling Nate's name as it echoes in the surrounding forests. Other than that ambient sound is at a minimum.
There's really no LFE to speak of. There's some low rumbling for car engines and such, but nothing more than that. Directionality and panning effects seem forced as sound jumps from one speaker to the other instead of flowing seamlessly through the soundfield. Just another forgettable audio presentation plastered onto a forgettable movie.
The subplots in 'Angels Crest' end up just as abandoned and just as lifeless as poor little Nate. Nate deserved a better film. A better cast of characters who actually knew what grief was and how to handle it. He deserved a film with a director and screenwriter who knew how to cut the fat off of a movie and stick to the important parts. Nate deserved so much more. What's really sad is that after watching this movie you'll have a hard time feeling bad for Nate because the movie surrounding his tragic demise is so ham-fistedly ugly. You know something's wrong when you're watching a movie about the heartbreaking loss of a toddler and all you can think about is how terribly unemotional and idiotic this movie is. Sorry Nate. You deserved better buddy.