19 February 2010 | momsroo
"Winged Creatures" wants very much to make A Statement about modern life: the interconnectedness of human beings, the devastation wrought by random shootings that have become an unfortunate cliché in American communities, and the shock waves that erupt from the epicenter of these violent acts. Fragmentation can be an effective storytelling device for this kind of drama, and "Winged Creatures" has some impressive predecessors. Despite the movie's imitative efforts, however, "Crash" it ain't.
"Creatures" follows the aftermath of an act of anonymous violence in an anonymous diner full of anonymous people in an anonymous working class neighborhood. Writer Roy Freirich and director Rowan Woods want to draw us in with Everyness of their characters: Clara, a young, single-mom waitress (Kate Beckinsdale); Charlie, a middle-aged man (Forest Whitaker) with more serious matters on his mind than trying to get Clara to do her job; Anne and Jimmy, two young friends (Dakota Fanning, Josh Hutcherson) who cower under a table when the shooting starts; Dr. Laraby, an emergency room physician (Guy Pearce) who decides to find out what it really means to play God.
All of this is familiar territory. Handled well, films of this nature engage us with recurring "A- ha!" moments and sparks of true insight into the human condition. Unfortunately, "Winged Creatures" never quite reaches those heights. The back stories are unimaginative and sometimes contradictory. Motivation for Pearce's doctor is hinted at, but never concretized, making his personal about-face downright baffling. Instead of graceful complexity, "Winged Creatures" settles for clunky symbolism that has all the depth of a coat of paint and the subtlety of a jackhammer.
I wanted—and tried—to like this movie. I enjoy films that ask me to follow a cat's-cradle maze of intertwining stories. I think that pop culture is uniquely qualified to help us forget about the banality of evil and reignite our tendency to care when bad things happen to good people. And the "Winged Creatures" cast, including Jeanne Tripplehorn, Embeth Davidtz, Jennifer Hudson, and Jackie Earle Haley in supporting roles, is talented and deserves material that showcases its diverse strengths. Despite my best efforts, however, I simply couldn't overlook the weaknesses in the script and direction. Ultimately, "Winged Creatures" never gets off the ground.