City of Angels

 (7,691)6.71 h 54 min1998X-RayPG-13
Love story between a female doctor and a heavenly angel. When the angel finds out that he can be seen by the doctor, he longs to give up his immortality to become human.
Brad Silberling
Nicolas CageMeg RyanDennis Franz
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
Andre BraugherColm FeoreRobin BartlettJoanna MerlinSarah Dampf
Dawn SteelCharles Roven
Warner Bros.
PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
Content advisory
Foul languageviolencedrug usesexual content
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4.7 out of 5 stars

7691 global ratings

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Top reviews from the United States

richard brinkleyReviewed in the United States on April 29, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Fantastic movie. Very moving.
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Fantastic movie. My wife died 26 years ago at 33 so it is hard to watch people die and since I was in the military I can't bear to watch battle movies like "Saving Private Ryan", I cried the first 30 minutes of that movie solid. But City of Angels tore me apart. I won't say why. You just have to watch it.
39 people found this helpful
Jennifer M.Reviewed in the United States on September 8, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
Just as good as it was in 1998
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I grew up in a suburban Texas town where there wasn't much to do other than go to the mall or the movies. Because of this, I saw some movies multiple times in the theater...and *not* always because they were good! After watching this for the first time in 15 years or so, I am reminded that this is one I saw so many times because I loved it. The story holds up and the acting is fantastic. Nic Cage masters the art of being mysterious and loving without any level of creepiness. Which is actually pretty mind-blowing considering this is a dude following a woman around/randomly showing up wherever she is. Being older, I also appreciate some of the deeper emotional "life" feels that we get throughout this movie. Not something I necessarily appreciated or was aware of at 14. Watch again if it's been awhile. And watch for the first time if you never have.
18 people found this helpful
abbyjoReviewed in the United States on January 22, 2015
4.0 out of 5 stars
a jungle in which one sometimes finds movie reviews that are better written than scripts
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Welcome to Amazon, a jungle in which one sometimes finds movie reviews that are better written than scripts. It is a re-make. But it's not half bad.

Cage does the best he can with the script. He "falls" from grace for a mortal woman. In the course of so doing, he becomes mortal, but it is not a punishment, it is an experience he chose, exercising his free will. Cage's character is not unlike that of Starman, he is essentially a light being in a holographic body that cannot experience any sensory perception, because there is nothing "in" the body, no blood, no hormones. It is an ascended soul wearing a "human" costume.

The angel then, is the watcher who is also the man in black. He can see everything, hear everything, but only as a watcher, he cannot interact, be seen, be heard, it is a one-way street. He is "big" brother but in the form of countless individual angels. Few humans notice angels at all, even though "there is one in every room." Yet no angel can interfere with free will. "Fallen angels" play by the same rules but have more of them and keep their angel memories.

Even those who can see angels and feel their touch might not care what the angel feels. "Maggie" does.
It is the mutuality of interaction that makes the experience meaningful for humans. Humans feel what they expect to feel. At the same time, "Maggie" is the human who wants to ascend. She is cherubic looking. She is selfless. She is ready to be rid of the messy bloody noisy smelly putrid business of sewing up broken hearts that refuse to mend. She is curious to see where they go, perhaps. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

Is a moment of love, a few hours of romance worth a dimension shift? Many have said it not only is, but that love is the driving force in the universe. Without love, nothing would move. So some go up, some go down. For each action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The funny thing about love being a driving force is that it has to keep moving. There is no tying it up to a tree, putting in a cage. Even one called Nicolas.

These two souls were attracted to one another not because they "fit" as romantic partners but because they were alike, both curious, both ready to sacrifice everything they know to learn everything they don't know. True love is often a passing of like-souls in the hallway, so to speak. Seth does not get into the elevator, he waits for Maggie outside, a step ahead, during the courtship. Perhaps he does not want to see her choice of destinations.

The interesting difference here is the idea that angelic beings are incapable of feeling emotion, of tasting food, of enjoying sensual touch. That they hang around us in order to figure out what makes us tick. "Seth" asks "Maggie" what tears are, what makes the body cry. Is it a purely physical reaction? How does it work? He gets the technical explanation, he looks into the microscope, but some piece is missing. In the end, he becomes fully "human" by crying then grieving, then finding joy in renewal by loving little things, the pounding surf hitting the body swimming just in front of a wave.

And so do we all, moving in cycles from observer to participant and back again in the seasons of life and of lifetimes.
23 people found this helpful
Renegade: Bold As LoveReviewed in the United States on July 31, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Two Beautiful Films, No Need For Comparrison
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I am going to place this review on both Wings of Desire and City of Angels. There are references in each movie’s reviews to the other, so I’d prefer to share that there is no need for comparison. They each share a theme, but little more. They are each amazing movies and watching both is best as they are wonderful movies by any standard. To compare them is to say one is better than the other, and that is unfair.

Both movies tell the story of Angels. They can’t be seen, and have no direct ability to interact with the humans being watched. Observers, they are eternal and watch us. There is an occasional sign from them if they are moved in some way to get a human out of the way of a bus headed at them, but such is not why they are here. In both movies, we meet an Angel who decided to fall to Earth, give up eternity and become a human to feel, taste, hurt and did so to love someone. The fallen one is a glutton for human experiences and living life to its fullest. One of the observer Angels finds him and learns that he too can fall. Having a desire for a human woman, he falls to be with her. He has a companion Angel who is supportive and through their conversations we learn all the mechanics of being an Angel.

The premise is intriguing and allows insight, through their observations, of what it means to be human. It explores the human condition — no small task.

Wings of Desire was the original movie, and it is very much about the human condition. The Angels are the device to explore it. The Criterion Disc is excellent as all their collection discs have features to help understand the movie. This contains a solid interview with the director where he is very candid that the idea started as a notion, and evolved in production with the actors adding much to the story. There are four main characters: The Angel who falls in love with a stunning trapeze artist in a traveling circus. Next, his companion Angel who worries about his friend. Third, the fallen Angel, now human. Finally, the very important woman, the trapeze performer.

The movie is very much a classic art house foreign film, a German and French production set in Berlin with The Wall still standing. It is sparse, overt, character-driven and often abstract. The director lets the story emerge while filming, and the subject matter matches the almost serendipitous filming and storyline. The beautiful trapeze artist was the director’s then girlfriend, the main actors ones he had worked with prior, and the interesting addition of Peter Falk as, well, Peter Falk in full bloom while playing Columbo and he is known for Colombo fame by characters in the film. In an interview with Peter Falk, he found the premise interesting and decided to join the cast. The trust and comfort of the cast in the director is reflected in the film. The director lets the camera sit on faces. Eyes are intense and shown as key scenes. Just tight shots of the faces or eyes without words. The film is very real looking. Real locations, real people being observed — and that is the important element. He filmed real people doing everyday things. As the two Angels observe them, we can hear what they do, which are the inner dialogues of the people they observe. That is key to the understanding of the human condition. In attempting that, the use of the Angels, who can hear the thoughts, is not possible any other way. That makes the premise powerful to tell the story of the main character falling to Earth work, and to give insight to what it means to be human. If there is a punchline, I would guess the decision to be human says it best. Better to have lived than never lived at all. Love rather than never loved at all.

Wings of Desire is engaging, and the story unfolds nicely. It has been an inspiration to those viewing it and was a critical success and continues to gain praise. It’s simple and complex at one time. It makes you think. It is a pure movie that allows us to join the journey of discovery along with the cast, crew and director. It’s in the masterpiece category by most all critics and essential viewing for good reasons.

City of Angels should not be compared to Wings of Desire, although comparison is inevitable as it certainly follows the premise and is a US/Hollywood version of Wings of Desire. The problem in doing a remake is that will always be compared to the original. In that sense, remakes rarely are viewed as equal or better. I personally don’t think that is needed. Let the new version stand on its own as if the original was never made. That is the only way to approach City of Angels. If you do, you will appreciate the film for what it is: A beautiful, mystical film that goes far beyond what most Hollywood movies ever obtain, which is beauty. It is art.

Visually, City of Angels is stunning. As the title implies, it is set in Los Angeles. There are two worlds seen. The city, and the lofty heights Angels inhabit. They are everywhere. They are observing from the tops of skyscrapers, signs over freeways, and view things from a distance humans can’t. They have rituals of gathering at the ocean and the library. They all wear simple black trench coats and when in group, do not speak. They are shown as mythical, but have a purpose though none is defined. The treatment gives the Angels beauty and it is well done. We learn that they study humans up-close as well. In that, we meet one Angel, Seth, who is in a hospital operating room watching a human die, and essentially there to escort the soul to life beyond. In this film, humans go on. He observes a female surgeon, and “falls” for her. He follows her and hearing her thoughts, develops an attraction to her not typical of the Angels. He meets a glutton played by Dennis Franz who is an Angel who fell to Earth to be a human, and loves it. They are aware of each other and in that process Seth decides to fall, give up being an Angel, and feel the pain and joy humans experience. It’s a love story, pure and simple. The movie examines that love is the key to being a human.

More happens to support the pain of love and the nature of mortality here. The film does a great job of showing the difference of watching life from a distance, vs. living it. It speaks to jumping into real life, which is to love someone and put them ahead of yourself. That is a strong message and a beautiful love story. The premise shows the power of love and how we are not “above” hurt and heartbreak like the Angels.

The film works visually, and it features the true talent of Nicholas Cage. He is an elusive talent. He appears in so many film that don’t use him well you sometimes can forget how magic he can be in good film. His expressions, and above all his beautiful eyes, are key to this film. His haunting presence, eyes that touch you, and his look of awe make this a great performance and gives the character both an angelic and then very human quality that are the heart of the film. This is about his performance, and it is through that we learn the reason why we live to love, and to be loved.

Two wonderful movies. Two very different takes on an eternal question. Each has great performances and direction, and a premise that challenges us to think about who and what we are. This is not about one being better than the other. They are both touching, moving, enlightening experiences. City of Angels would be considered a masterpiece if Wings of Desire had never been made. But, it would not be made without Wings of Desire. So, I’ll leave it as maybe it was meant to be. Divine inspiration for all audiences telling us what matters, made in times when the value of the soul was being discarded for the loveless world we now all share. Let’s share it with the Angels from both these beautiful films.
Deborah J BensonReviewed in the United States on January 31, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
City of Angels....Sweet Film
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I've loved this sensitive film since it was first released. The premise is a little bit weird, and I'm not sure if angels actually sit up on top of skyscrapers, or stand on the beach in the morning, but the movie has heart. Just one of those "good cry films". Everybody needs one once in awhile. Nicolas Cage and Meg Ryan make the film, and Dennis Franz makes the laughs...a sweet-sided tough guy full of wisdom. The film is definitely a tear- jerker, but it's well worth watching.
15 people found this helpful
Misty ParsonsReviewed in the United States on April 10, 2014
5.0 out of 5 stars
The perfect romantic movie
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Meg Ryan - that should tell you enough right there. There are very few BAD Meg Ryan movies. Even fewer BAD romantic comedies that star Meg Ryan.

Then add Nicolas Cage - who is not one of my favorite people in the world - but is a TERRIFIC leading man. He's not devastatingly handsome. He's just interesting enough to draw you in. And this is his best work.

Meg plays Maggie - a doctor who takes it very hard when she loses a patient on the table when she did EVERYTHING right and he should have lived, but did not.

Nicolas plays Seth - an Angel who develops a strong attachment to Maggie and wants to help her and ends up falling in love with her. So much so that he allows her to see him - which he's not really supposed to do.

Dennis Franz plays Nathaniel Messenger - a former angel who decided to take the plunge (literally) and become human. Maggie is his doctor and he guides Seth to understand more about what's going on and explain to him he can fall to Earth should he choose - and become human.

The movie follows their path to claim each other. The most sensual and yet innocently sweet scene of any movie - a rainstorm and Maggie can't sleep - and she asks Seth to stay with her - although he won't let her see him. The music enhances that scene immensely - Sarah McLachlan's Angel - a more perfect song, I couldn't imagine.

If you've never watched the movie - the ending is actually perfect. It's not what you'd expect, but it is perfect. And beautiful. It's filmed beautifully, acted deliberately and wonderfully, and embedded as a fantastic memory.

It would be a sin - literally - to never see this movie.
13 people found this helpful
Susan GiammarinoReviewed in the United States on July 16, 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
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I fell in love with Nicky in this! I know it was fanyasy life but their acting was awesome & the music was off the Charts! I LOVE Alannis Morrisette's Uninvited, she has a good vibrato & control of her voice. And Sarah McLaughlins's Arms Of The Angel brings me to my knees since they used it on GH hospital when Sam & Sonny;s was a still born & Jason was the only one to hold her. I cried like a toddler! But u have to see it to see why my reaction was so emotional. GH knows how to make u cry for days on end!
4 people found this helpful
Comparison Shopping ConsumerReviewed in the United States on January 21, 2013
5.0 out of 5 stars
A moving spiritual/ metaphysical romance( NO SPOILER)
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I don't want to give away anything and I won't.

I hate when people don't warn you first and then offer a movie SPOILER.

I will say that ,I usually cry over animal movies- war movies- anything that has some powerful theme or message to it.

I never cry over romance movies for the most part. Something pretty profound has to happen or be said to move me.

For some reason though, this movie in all its simplicity- got to me.

In the dark, in my den, watching this with my sister, my face had tears- ranging from happy to sad tears and back again.

This movie for me, was heart stirring right from the beginning.

Seeing Nicolas Cage's face, so wide with innocence and wonder, versus Meg Ryan's tired appearance and jaded outlook on life, was a good contrast.

The operating room scene(very early in the movie) sets the stage for the storyline and explains the immediate connection Cage begins to feel toward Ryan, a heart surgeon.

Most of the emotions conveyed in this movie are done with looks between each of them.

The dialog does not carry the entire story.

There is a German version of this movie, I believe, and it also has a sequel to it.

You would have to go to Wikipedia to get the name of it.
Problem is- when you look anything up online, regarding a movie, you have to worry you will see a spoiler.

I just may see the German version and if it is as good as it has been touted, I probably will see the sequel as well.

But I know already, not to compare it to the USA's CITY OF ANGELS.
3 people found this helpful
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