The Fallen Ones is another selection from the Sci Fi Channel Original Film series. This one is more of a low-rent mummy knock off than anything resembling true science fiction, but that's probably overly nit picky. The Fallen Ones takes the Christian myth of giants on pre-mythical flood Earth, fallen angels, and hybrid angel/human children and the idea of the end of the world and mixes it all together with Casper Van Dien as an archaeologist, Tom Bosley as a Rabbi, and Robert Wagner as a real estate developer drawn in to a plot to destroy Las Vegas with a giant mummy.
It sounds sort of jumbly here in print but it makes a little bit of sense in the film. See, back before the mythical flood an angel named Ammon (Navid Negahban) had relations with Rachel (Who is Rachel? I have no idea, I'm atheist. The only Rachel I know is the one who works at the local Mobil station). Apparently she's someone special to God, or something. She has a giant baby. Ammon has the giant, now full grown, killed and mummified and buried out in the California desert.
Cut to the California desert some 5000 years later where Matt Fletcher (Casper Van Dien) is doing an archaeological survey of land destined to be a new Las Vegas (because the old Las Vegas isn't kitchy enough apparently). He literally stumbles into the burial chamber of a mummified baby, and a mummified giant. This puts the development, led by Morton (Robert Wager) on hold. He doesn't seem too broken up about this though, which is sort of surprising as in most films like this he would be one of the villains. Refreshingly enough in The Fallen Ones, he isn't. I like Robert Wagner, and he's good and convincing here as a realist dealing with an unreal situation.
Morton brings in a new person to supervise the dig for more mummy stuff, she's Angela (Kristen Miller – AKA the voice of Lisa in Team America World Police), and put in charge of how the digging will take place. This causes an iota of conflict between Angela and Matt, but Morton puts the kibosh on any real anger between the two of them.
Matt brings in Rabbi Cunningham… er.. Eli Schmitt (Tom Bosley) to decipher some stone tablets found in the burial chamber of the giant mummy. They are written in ancient Hebrew, which for being in the California desert is weird enough, but also explains the back story of the giant mummy, the angels and human women mating thing, and the whole flood business.
Before they can fully excavate the giant mummy people begin disappearing from the dig site. The first to go is Joseph (Saginaw Grant) then a few others. They appear to be vanishing into a series of otherwise unknown and rather shallow caves. Matt takes Gus Ferguson (Geoffrey Lewis) and Mickey (Scott Whyte) to investigate. They are attacked by a bunch of guys in purple karate shirts and black cargo pants who keep moaning "Ammon". Mickey is kidnapped. The lavender ninja's vanish.
Matt and the others learn that a new man is being brought in to handle security at the site, a man named Raphael Ammon. Neither Matt nor Gus catch on to the whole Ammon thing. He puts the camp on lockdown so that even the mummy is off limits to the dig team.
Strangely this is seen as a necessary annoyance and not at all suspicious by Matt. Did I mention that Casper Van Dien plays Matt? I did… Well, Casper Van Dien acts every single scene in this film like he has a moderate to severe head injury. His emotional range is nil. He literally has the same goofy semi-smile for the entire movie. Mostly this is annoying, but some scenes, like at the end of the film it's downright maddening. But we'll talk about that later.
The power goes out in the camp. Ammon begins torturing the captives using his magic angel powers that consist of wobbly CGI blobs and flashes. His henchmen are also up to something, they are building an effigy, which is a sort of big metal cage shaped like a giant where people take up the places of the muscles in a human skeleton and make the thing walk. Why? I have no friggin idea. But it does look cool when they finally get it up and walking.
Ammon states that tonight, during the lunar eclipse, he will awaken his son and mate with another human woman. This time Angela, who is, as he says, a descendent of Rachel from the bible. Ammon has this conversation with Tom Bosley just before he kills him. Ammon's plan is to win back God's favor by doing to Vegas what he did to Sodom and Gomorrah, that is burning it to the ground and killing everyone within.
Soon the mummy is running around the desert, Matt and Mickey and Morton are chasing it, and it's a race to defeat Ammon, the giant mummy, and save Angela before the end of the eclipse.
There, that's the film. And for what it's worth the script isn't bad. Even a biblical illiterate like me could make heads and tails of the fairy tale aspects of the script. The special effects by Chad Cole and James Davidson run the gamut from very very good (the giant mummy running around the desert) to very very bad (just about everything else, which admittedly isn't all that much). But hey, it's made for TV.
I wish they would have taken the final third of the film and really gone to Vegas. The CGI was good enough that watching the mummy tromp around the strip would have been a blast and harkened back to the good old days of Colonel Glen Manning doing the same thing in the Amazing Colossal Man and War of the Colossal Beast. I was really looking forward to those potential scenes too… damn you Kevin Van Hook!!!
Kevin Van Hook's direction is adequate and he manages to frame each shot as if it was going to be airing on TV. While the DVD is in 16x9 widescreen, I never really got the impression that he was wasting the frame (a crime for which I hate Chris Columbus's treatment of the Harry Potter films). His script is sprightly and has a little humor here and there. Robert Wagner is the funniest of the cast and manages to deadpan his delivery enough to make the meager jokes still work.
The acting is okay from just about everyone (no Bulgarians with overdub so that's a definite plus) and after a while you just sort of ignore Casper Van Dien and concentrate on the better actors in the film, Wagner, Lewis, Negahban, Miller, the rocks, the CGI Mummy, the retarded guy who moans "Ammmmmoooooonnnn", the two Jeep Wranglers, and the flashlights.
My only other gripe is with the score by Kevin Kaska and William Richer. At first it's really sort of nice and stringy and suitably epic, then by the climax the soundtrack devolves into screaming synth cacophony that drove me absolutely batshit. Blech!
Anchor Bay has stacked the DVD with a whole bunch of stuff too, which ads to the overall value. A really nice extra is a PFD of the actual screenplay that can be pulled off the DVD. This is a GREAT extra and should be mandatory on all films. There is a nice short storyboard gallery for the opening scene when the caveman is squished by a giant hand. A making of featurette, a commentary track with the director/writer Van Hook, the two producers, and the digital effects supervisor. It's a little boring as they get lost in the minutiae of the production which if you aren't savvy to all the film techniques and tools they mention is sort of difficult to follow. Finally the DVD comes with an image gallery of behind the scenes shots and the trailer.
It's really not a bad hour and half, and if you poke around the extras, two hours, to spend with a B-picture about mummies and God and floods and lavender coated ninjas and Casper Van Dien.