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Summary:

The world of web series is no place for bimbos: If you want to excel, you can’t just look good, you have to be smart too. Take Angel of Death, the new Crackle action extravaganza premiering today. Despite sporting high-end production values, a talented cast, and […]

The world of web series is no place for bimbos: If you want to excel, you can’t just look good, you have to be smart too. Take Angel of Death, the new Crackle action extravaganza premiering today. Despite sporting high-end production values, a talented cast, and beautiful RED camera cinematography, it still would have been possible for the Zoe Bell-starring series to crash and burn. But it doesn’t in the slightest. And why?

While stuntwoman-turned-actress Zoe Bell (Grindhouse, stunt double for Xena: Warrior Princess and Kill Bill‘s Bride) deserves no small portion of the credit, creator Ed Brubaker is really the answer. Crossing over from the comic book world (where he’s accumulated many awards and killed many superheroes), his writing takes the world web serials to a new level. The clever dialogue and meaty character interaction give the actors something meaty to chew on, and the fast pace and well-structured cliffhangers keep the momentum going — providing the emotional intimacy of a small-screen drama, coupled with spurts of Hong Kong-quality action.

The violence is real, harsh, and occasionally flat-out awesome: Bell’s career was built on making kicking butt look good and Death really puts her through her paces. But Angel of Death is more than just an action spectacular. While it’s easy for the girl-assassin genre to be reduced to an opportunity to fetishize girls and guns, Eve is a fully realized and likable character.

In fact, it’s surprising how likable she is — perhaps it’s because the audience immediately recognizes her as capable and strong, as believable as any male assassin tasked with the same job. At the beginning, we don’t quite know the specifics behind her chosen career and why she’s so driven, but the, um, vulnerable position she finds herself in at the end of the first episode triggers a character arc that deconstructs her fierce persona even as her professional situation takes an abrupt turn.

Crackle is taking a slightly unconventional approach with its distribution of the 10-episode series, hyping it up as a must-see event by releasing an episode every weekday for the next two weeks. My biggest regret is that, as Brubaker explained to Chris Albrecht, it was constructed to work as a feature film as well as a web series — the four episodes available for review definitely represent a slow build to a greater conflict, and as the narrative builds momentum you can sense that this story has a definite ending. And I really wish that weren’t the case, that I had weeks and weeks of the show to look forward to. But in the dangerous world of murder-for-hire, you take what you get. Or so I’ve heard.

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  1. Really enjoyed the first episode. Kudos to the director and editor, as well as Brubaker and Bell.

    Still, I’m not sure your description of the budget as “high” is sufficient. It looks “extremely high” – I would guess it’s up there in the rarefied Dr. Horrible and Quarterlife realm.

  2. saw the beauty….not sure about the brains. Kinda mindless if u ask me. But good stunts for sure!

  3. Liz Shannon Miller Monday, March 2, 2009

    @SR — we go strictly on a Low/Medium/High basis here without specific budget information, but I absolutely agree.

    @Patty — I’d recommend watching a few more episodes. It goes a little deeper. :)

  4. Spike Finds More Content Online, Picks Up Angel of Death Tuesday, June 2, 2009

    [...] which stars stuntwoman Zoe Bell as an assassin (see our review and our interview with Bell), was produced by Sony’s Crackle.com and debuted in this past [...]

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    [...] Way, much like Angel of Death (Crackle’s big action smash from last year) was filmed essentially as an independent feature, [...]

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    [...] Way, much like Angel of Death (Crackle’s big action smash from last year) was filmed essentially as an independent feature, [...]

  7. Top 10 Professional Favorites from 2009 Tuesday, December 29, 2009

    [...] Angel of Death March 2009 kicked a whole lot of butt thanks to the Ed Brubaker-created Crackle series, which is now available only on DVD. It’s a disappointing decision, but the memory of Zoe Bell with a knife stuck in her head will endure. From Crackle: Angel Of Death Trailer [...]

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