Last weekend, Scott Stewart's apocalypse film, Legion, seemed to strike a chord with audiences, delivering just what the trailers promised -- B-movie angel-on-angel action. Although our Peter Hall didn't agree, writing: "The trailers may have you thinking that Legion looks silly and stupid but in a good way; a kind of cinematic junk food. It is not. It's worse than that. Legion is the cinematic equivalent of a Styrofoam cup. It's an empty container as easily disposed of as it is manufactured and just begging to be tossed in a junk yard."

Nevertheless, who knew there was such a big demand for Paul Bettany, Action Hero? He certainly doesn't look very threatening -- wingless, gaunt, and oh-so-British -- but I can think of seven more angels so wimpy they make Michael Landon look like Sonny Landham.

7. Scott Glenn as Glaeken Trismegestus in The Keep

Glaeken Trismegestus is as weird as his very weird name. In Michael Mann's little-seen 1983 WWII horror-fantasy The Keep, Trismegestus awakens like a sleeper cell agent to stop a demon from being unleashed on the world by a well-meaning Jewish doctor. But instead of taking the fight directly to the devil, the angel instead has tantric sex with the doctor's young daughter, hooking up with her quicker than you can say Glaeken Trismegestus. While he does end up defeating the demon later, with a flashlight that we're supposed to pretend is an ancient heavenly artifact (the propmaster should've been fired), he sure does take his sweet time getting there. Glaeken may be the only angel on the list who actually defeats a devil, but he does so in a fog-machined laser light show set to a mellow synthy "Tangerine Dream" score.

This remake seems like less of a movie and more of an excuse to sell Christmas-themed soundtracks on the good (at the time) name of Whitney Houston. Houston has since come out and revealed that she was coked out of her gourd for every day of shooting on the Penny Marshall film, making her 100 times more dangerous than co-star Denzel Washington. Let it snow, indeed, Whitney. Denzel is so vanilla in this movie as to be almost completely forgettable. He's prayed down from heaven to save a church, but spends most of his time playing marriage counselor to Courtney B. Vance and Houston. Doesn't God know we already have marriage counselors here on Earth? He didn't need to send one.

In what could only be some kind of misguided attempt to recreate the success of Splash, we ended up with this forgotten 1980's rom-com about a nice guy with a brain tumor who nurses an injured angel back to health after she bangs up her wings on an orbiting satellite. They fall in love, naturally, despite the fact that she can't speak (and despite that fact that he's engaged to a shrew). She's certainly gorgeous, and she loves french fries (for whatever that's worth to you when seeking a potential love partner), but unless you need to be healed from your inoperable brain tumor, she's utterly useless.

In one of the greatest prayer misunderstandings in cinema history, a boy prays for the California Angels to win the pennant after being told by his deadbeat dad that Daddy will start acting like a responsible father when the Angels win (translation: NEVER). Instead of God sending angels to mend the broken home, God takes the kid literally and provides divine intervention in the form form of Al, the baseball-loving angel, to help the Angels with a winning streak. Yay? Sure, you don't have your dad, kid, but, hey, the Angels won some games.

Seth gave up his communion with The Divine for all of eternity for one chance to shtup Meg Ryan. Then, she dies in bicycle accident. Smooth move, Seth. (It's a very far cry from the source material, Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire.)

2. Henry Travers as Clarence in It's a Wonderful Life
Clarence really has an amazing power when you think about it -- the ability to open windows into alternate versions of reality. Heady stuff. He uses it to stop a loan officer from committing suicide, which seems pretty short-sighted. Maybe there's another angel that can show Clarence a reality in which he could've used his powers a couple of years earlier to stop Hitler. I smell a sequel!

1. John Travolta as Michael in Michael

What exactly was he sent here to do? Make William Hurt fall in love with Andie MacDowell? Give Joey Lauren Adams an orgasm? Eat breakfast cereal with his shirt off? Maybe I need to cut him some slack since he's supposed to be on some kind of extended Earth vacation, and not technically on-duty, but he lets the sweet old lady who discovers him die, while using his angelic power to resurrect a dead dog later in the film. His primary goal seems to be a visit to the Sears Tower in Chicago, which I can't imagine looks any better than any of the celestial palaces in Heaven.
categories Cinematical