Note: We here at Xcritic have been the biggest champions of the movie Fallen by Brad Armstrong, starring lovely Jessica Drake, you will find. It provided entertainment, heated sex, and was clearly the best title by the company in 2008. We collectively believed that it was the best standard definition release of the year due to the abundance of extras, the technical aspects, the casting, and direction of the movie itself (it subsequently won various awards elsewhere too) so I was extremely happy to receive the Blu-ray version of the movie in a double disc package the other day. The good news is that it is a slight visual upgrade of the movie (though not presented in 1080p as it should have been), seeing the back cover list it as a mere 720p was bizarre!) but the bad news is that Wicked Pictures seems to think of the release primarily as a double dip, truncating the extras substantially although not as much as many of their other high definition versions. With retailers selling the flick for twice the SD version, most people I know expect some added fuck for the buck, not less so the rating of this otherwise wonderful flick has taken a substantial hit in this version and I caution people to check it out before buying. This review tries to capture the spirit of the movie itself and is largely based on the SD version of the movie, altered to address some of the changes found in my viewing of the double disc set as best I can.
Cast: Jenna Haze, Brad Armstrong, Jessica Drake, Jada Fire, Gianna Lynn, Lana Croft, Michelle McLaren, Ryder Sky, Derrick Pierce, Barry Scott, Eric Masterson, Sean Stylez, Randy Spears, Jennifer Dark, Tommy Gunn, Marcus London, Herschel Savage, Angie Savage, Shyla Stylez, Niko
Non-sex roles (at least in the movie itself): Alektra Blue, Jenaveve Jolie, Hunter Brice
Extras: The extras were mainly included on the second disc. The best of the batch for most of you will be a short deleted scene between Jessica Drake and Barrett Blade in the tattoo parlor lasting 13:47 minutes (oral and vaginal only with anal fingering), a deleted scene of dialogue between Brad Armstrong and Gianna Lynn that also included a blowjob lasting 8:17 minutes (heavy on dialogue and light on blowjob action but furthering the plot a bit too), four "Sex Booth" scenes with two camera angles each as Alektra Blue, Jenaveve Jolie, Hunter Bryce, and Angie Savage were allowed to masturbate in tidbits related to scene Seven in the flick (with toy action, anal, dirty talk, and each gal showing some personality in scenes ranging from Angie's 7:31 minutes and Jenaveve's 7:55 minutes to Alektra's 10:51 minutes and Hunter giving some fine squirting solo work for 11:33 minutes), a far better orgy scene lasting 40:06 minutes, and two interviews; one with Brad lasting 19:15 minutes and one by Jessica lasting 13:54 minutes.
Shyla Stylez and Jessica Drake!
The second disc also had an enjoyable 38:17 minute long Behind the Scenes feature starring the majority of the cast & crew by Jax and Miller (which I really liked a lot), and for those of you so equipped, a digital download of the movie for your computer/transportable player. There was also a set of three endings you could pick from (though curiously no audio commentary).
Jessica Drake and Brad Armstrong
Note: There were no issues playing this version of the movie as some have reported with the SD version I reviewed last year.
Pick and ending!
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Audio/Video Quality: Fallen was presented in an appealing 1.85:1 ratio widescreen color as shot by director Brad Armstrong for Wicked Pictures in the high definition VC-1 codec (in a mere 720p resolution, perhaps due to using film stock instead of video). Having watched the BTS feature, I know the equipment used to capture the scenes was high definition (see, there are always good reasons for watching those features!) and it appeared to be the same kind used for 1080 resolution works so I was dumbfounded as to why the weaker resolution was used for the high definition version. The video noise was still present in most cases and the composition of the scenes was well taken care of, enhancing the look of Jessica Drake and the other ladies in nearly all cases but there were times when I wished the high definition version was available to enhance the viewing experience. There were no obvious compression artifacts and the bitrate was typically in the mid to upper 13.1 Mbps range, some scenes nearly twice that but most of them on the lower end of the spectrum. The editing was pretty decent too, not the very best provided by the company but in the top third (a few out of focus moments, compositions cutting off heads or other body parts, and obviously distracting parts in need of polishing up by editor Eddie Door took away from the otherwise well done flick). The audio was presented in a 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround English track that balanced the vocals and music nicely (using 192 Kbps and a 48 kHz sampling rate), while the other two versions from the SD version were not included. The audio seemed to be another step in the right direction for Wicked Pictures, even though the vocals were almost certainly recorded in monaural or dubbed in later (not to mention limited in scope) instead of recorded in surround as would be needed for a higher rating. Still, the music was well done and the overall quality of the audio was better than average as well (much better in a few non-sex scenes such as the uncredited jazz club number).
Body of Review: Jessica Drake is one of my all time favorite performers in porn, aging extremely well over the last ten years to become a surefire candidate for the Hall of Fame when the clock strikes the magic number. In recent times, she has been focusing more energy on working behind the scenes, even directing her first release reviewed last week by yours truly. Well, her number came up to star in Brad Armstrong's yearly blockbuster title for Wicked Pictures called Fallen Blu-ray, and there was never any doubt in my mind that she was the best lady capable of pulling off the role on staff. The movie details the life of an angel stranded on Earth after neglecting her duties to protect a young lady from a disastrous elevator ride that claims her life. As punishment, Jessica is banished from Heaven to live among the humans, the story picking up after four years to see her embracing the nastier side of life in a series of meaningless sexual encounters. That is, until she falls for her soul mate as played by Brad Armstrong, the quirks of fate providing enough material for discussion in how the plot shows her inevitable attempts to seek redemption. While the plot had some serious holes in it (no pun intended) and a number of you may be put off by the religious angle displayed here, the nod to several mainstream movies as inspiration once again earned Armstrong some respect.
Extended orgy scene!
I don't want to spoil the movie for you so I'll concentrate on describing the sexual aspects instead of the plot elements in more depth, the cover saying this about the movie: "An erotic masterpiece comes to life as award winning director Brad Armstrong tells the tale of "Angel" (Jessica Drake), a fallen Gregorian Angel who has been banished to earth and stripped of her wings after the accidental death of the young woman she was sent to watch over. Alone and desperate for companionship, she finds it in the city's seedy underworld, far from the idyllic heavens she once knew. Follow Angel on her dark journey through some of the most sinful and perverse places this world has to offer. As she continues her fall into darkness, she discovers a glimmer of light in Keith (Brad Armstrong), a handsome mortal that she is inexplicitly drawn to. As Keith helps guide her back towards the light, a secret from the past comes back to haunt the duo, threatening to tear them apart. Can Angel regain her wings and soar once again. Or has she fallen for the last time, doomed to live out her days trapped in the purgatory she now calls home... Destined to become an adult classic, Armstrong's stunning visual style, combined with Drake's top-notch performance, mind-blowing sex scenes and a screenplay that delivers till the very last frame, Fallen is an unforgettable film." Here's a brief look at the scenes by cast and action, noting that condoms were used for those still interested:
Pretty cool menus too!
Scene One: Jenna Haze, a lean little tight bodied hotty that has been in most of the big "name" movies this year, was up first in bed playing a gal named Denise. She was in her black underwear and bouncing around in the sack with Brad Armstrong, showing a surprising amount of heat and sexual agility as the pair went at it. The editing was too heavy handed for stroking pleasure but even the montage aspects of it at the beginning seemed to illustrate some care went into the scene. This was probably the shortest full scene of the movie but he came in her mouth and even the use of the expected condom did not weaken it any more than Jenna's lack of chemistry with Brad. In all then, Jenna looked very sexy and it was a shame she wasn't able to be in a longer scene (or several scenes due to the plot).
Scene Two: Jessica Drake, Jada Fire, Gianna Lynn, Lana Croft, Michelle McLaren, Ryder Sky, Brad Armstrong, Derrick Pierce, Barry Scott, Eric Masterson, and Sean Stylez, were then up in an orgy scene where the people paired off in the smoky bar setting as Jessica established her need for some form of love/physical contact with others. The scene lasted about twenty minutes (out of the over three hours shot) and the extended version on the bonus disc flowed much better (and was twice as long). In any case, the emphasis was on oral loving, with the ladies slobbing knob much more readily than the guys ate the ladies out, a bunch of anal sex included such as Jada getting planked or Jessica and Gianna taking DP's but the enthusiasm here was my favorite part of the scene overall. Eric looked weird with his modified Mohawk hairdo and Michelle still didn't do much for me, Jessica coming across as the nastiest and most driven of the entire cast, other minimal distractions including cast members looking right at the camera (Derrick in particular), too many close ups, or the rapid fire tempo of the edits that dragged it down to merely good when it could have been great. Orgies are tough to get right though, needing a great editor to supplement exceptional camera work so I cannot be too tough on Brad's direction even if it looked like Jake, Francois, and the others needed him behind the scenes more than in the limelight. The scene ended with multiple wads of genetic juice scoring on the faces of the ladies, a fair bit of it cumswapped by the gals.
Alektra Blue in the bonus Sex Booth scene.
Scene Three: Jessica Drake, walking the street at night in search of meaning in her existence, came across policeman Randy Spears who wanted some fun with her on the back of his patrol car while his partner smoked a cancer stick. He was Officer Sinclair and knew how to use his night stick in Jessica's sweet ass nearly as well as his personal version of the device in her pussy, the blowjob and other tricks minimal as she cried out for him to fuck her. Randy could have had a bigger role here and this was a scene in need of more positions, perhaps beckoning for extended versions of the scenes like P2 provided to give the consumer the best of both worlds. The scene finished up with Jessica taking a face full of population pudding after fingering her own ass while Randy drilled her pussy. Her vocals were too low in the balanced version of the soundtrack but her moans are always appreciated by this reviewer.
Jenaveve Jolie in the bonus Sex Booth Scene.
Scene Four: Jennifer Dark, a lean brunette with a smoking hot body, was up next in bed as she engaged in nasty sex with both Tommy Gunn and Marcus London. She blew Marcus while Tommy ate her out, her black corset looking good on her all natural body. She really played the oral lover well this time, savoring the taste of cock as she wrapped her lips around them one at a time. In return, they fingered her pussy and ass before pounding her two holes, Jennifer showing more active riding in the ass than the pussy. The guys did manage to provide some DP footage too but it was not as inspired as the single pecker plowing she did, some chemistry displayed all the same as the trio got dirtier with time. The ending nuts went on her chest and face with Jennifer providing post coital sucking, the wave of light washing down on her far too heavily and the editing fair.
Hunter Bryce in the Bonus Sex Booth Scene.
Scene Five: Jessica Drake, having had a sensual time in the jazz club with Brad Armstrong, was up next in bed with him as he ate her and fingered her perfect pussy. This scene probably had the most chemistry of the entire movie, the real life couple showing they still had the hots for one another after considerable time. He would finger her and feed her some of the juices, the eager Jessica enjoying his attentive actions. She reciprocated with a swell hummer and the pair began screwing like horny students of love, the clock in the background demonstrating why clocks shouldn't be left in scenes that are edited. Jessica did some PTM and rode most aggressively, pumping herself on his rod with a degree of familiarity but passion as well. Her technical DP (her fingers in her ass and his cock in her pussy) was heated and the ending crotch pop was not the worst of the movie.
Angie Savage in the bonus Sex Booth Scene.
Scene Six: Jessica Drake, still in her dark outfit, was up next showing her trade with Herschel Savage, as she blew him in return for the cab ride she took from him (the gal riding on top of the cab as if flying through the city late at night). The alley was the best place for the action to occur, her attentive mouth very inviting but she showed precious little skin and even the theme of a public blowjob was not enough to make this a good scene compared to the others (it wasn't bad, just not complete or as heated). He rubbed out a load of spew to her mouth to finish up for those that care.
Scene Seven: Jessica Drake, preying on a newcomer at a local sex club, watched Angie Savage masturbate for her as she rubbed herself across from the glass partition. Both gals stripping and getting themselves off was a welcome change of pace, but it got better as the pair ended up together where they rubbed, caressed, and ate each other silly. There was some technical DP work here and I wished that the gals shown out front (Jenaveve, Alektra, and Hunter) could have joined them to make it a lesbian orgy but in fairness, this was a well done scene with only the two playing it up. The phone dynamic at the front gave Angie a Courtney Love kind of appeal too, at least when the musician was substantially younger and hotter. The tease was fun as well, precious little employed in most Wicked titles of late in favor of pacing, each gal getting ample time to shine before the ending kiss.
Scene Eight: Jessica Drake and Shyla Stylez, both exceptionally sexy looking in their angel wings and torn clothing, were up next in a fantasy sequence flashback with Niko. The rapid editing and close ups were heavy here too, the montage impact weakening the scene but still providing some true fun time as the gals blew him and treated each other to a lot of sexy times. The gals were active vaginal riders here and seemed to compete for Niko's attention as they double teamed him in the smoky room with religious accents. The ladies cumswapped his seed after jerking it out of him, resulting in a modest load all over their faces.
Scene Nine: Jessica Drake, all dressed down as she enjoyed the simpler things in life by the campfire, began necking with Brad Armstrong on the open campground by the fire. They had been toasting marshmallows and one thing led to another, serving up to show her evolution as caring for him way more than she initially wanted to when they first met. He went down on her and she blew him after he fingered her snatch, leading to a few vaginal positions on the open range (the couple on top of a sleeping bag). His semen seeped out of his cock to her mouth, the short scene okay but not the best of the show by any means.
Summary: Fallen Blu-ray starring Jessica Drake by director Brad Armstrong for Wicked Pictures was easily the best sex the company has provided in recent memory combined with a light plot that a great many people will enjoy. The loss of the superb packaging and the bonus disc material (two discs worth now missing) really impacted my decision on the rating but also remember the fact that the picture was not the best it could be (720p?!?) and the fact that the movie in this version costs twice as much for half as much material really weighed heavily on my mind. As the best showcase spotlight I have ever seen on Jessica Drake, this was an exceptional movie and fans of hers will definitely want to own a nSD copy, but Rent It in Blu-ray before dropping serious cash for such a flawed release, again depending on your taste for this kind of fuck flick.
---- You can email me with questions at Houstondon @ hotmail.com if you have any constructive criticism of the review too. :) Also you can follow me on twitter @HoustonDon