Okay, so I do have to admit that every character's appearance was somewhere between unexpected, surprising and simply hard to accept. Then again, it seemed that upon arriving in purgatory, the mid-world between heaven and Earth, Gabriel seems surprised at his new, corporeal form. For that matter, it seems to take a while to get used to. (That's what one of the first scenes of the movie is about, in case you wonder why Gabriel is screaming, staring at his hands, falling over a lot and trying to fly without wings.)
Gabriel presents an interesting vision of a battle between the forces of good and evil for control of purgatory and the ownership of the souls therein. Gabriel was a low-budget picture, but was targeted at the mainstream crowd, rather than having the artsy feel that many low-budget films have. While Gabriel has some Matrix-esque feel to it and looks like it was filmed in the outskirts of Gotham, it seems to suffer a bit somewhere between directing and editing, as the timing seems, quite frankly, slow. I watched Gabriel with two other reviewers and won the privilege of reviewing it by being the only one not to fall asleep during the movie. Upon watching the deleted scenes, I found that one of the deleted bits would have made one of the scenes that was kept make more sense and my instinct would have been that they should have kept that scene, but I do have to admit that something needed to be cut for time. What should be cut is often not an easy decision. That's not a decision I'd want to make, but it seems like something could have been done to make it drag less.
So, I've talked around Gabriel, but let's speak about the movie itself for a bit, shall we? Gabriel has that "angels and devils come down to Earth to fight for our souls" kind of feel, but, in fact, the action is supposed to take place in purgatory, not on Earth. Interesting details are paid close attention to, such as the unfamiliarity angels have with bodies and sexes, but no explanation is given as to why they seem to have an Earthly form when they're actually in purgatory. And, it seems, a fallen angel by the name of Sammael (Dwaine Stevenson) has taken over purgatory along with a group of fallen angel henchmen. A series of archangels were sent from heaven to purgatory to defeat Sammael, but none of them had been successful. It seems that the darkness in the mid-world was too much for them. The fate of purgatory - and mankind - rests on the shoulders of the last of Heaven's seven archangels, Gabriel (Andy Whitfield). Gabriel is said to be one of the greatest of Heaven's warriors, second only to Michael, who has gone missing and is assumed dead. Gabriel picks off Sammael's fallen henchmen and attempts to return hope and health to his comrades who had gone into purgatory before him, including "Jade" (Samantha Noble), an archangel who had been defeated and made mortal by Sammael. Jade - previously known as Amitiel - seemed to be an existing love interest for Gabriel, which seems strange, as Gabriel seemed unfamiliar with the gender of archangels he was searching for - at least early in the movie.
Gabriel proves to be a worthy adversary for Sammael, but, in the end, Sammael reveals a terrible secret that changes everything that Gabriel thought he knew. The very end of the movie has a very film noir / Blade Runner feel to it, with a "the end is the beginning is the end" narrative in the last scene, and I am afraid that, while I can defend other design decisions in the movie, I found the ending itself to be less than desirable and, quite frankly, not adding up. I keep trying to figure out why Gabriel would make the decision he makes at the end of the movie and the only reason I can think of that anyone would want that ending would be so that the poetic reiterative narrative could be employed. Which is not a good enough reason, in my opinion.
Overall, the movie had a definite vision, but the implementation seemed a bit off. Some will complain about the movie being too slow, while others will have issues with plot holes. If you're not ready turn off at least part of your brain and simply accept that if Gabriel were to show up in purgatory, he would brandish a pistol with a silencer, then you might not be ready for Gabriel. If, however, this scenario sounds right up your alley, grab a tub of popcorn that will last you for almost two hours and have a great time.