This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Matt Wood’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Decided to follow-up Wings of Desire with this film that I've always kind of wanted to see, but never got around to. It was finally time.
You really get a good sense of the comparison in just the opening few minutes of both films. Wings of Desire starts with the watcher overhearing all kinds of thoughts from people at different points of their lives. City of Angels starts with a child dying.
Both films are trying to do the same thing, show the fullness of life, using the same tools: angels who want to be human. But City of Angels chooses to do that by pushing almost all of that fullness into plot. Using plot is the most straight forward and easy way to take it in, but it all feels so contrived. And it is, it's trying to hit all of these checkpoints in a single thread.
This reaches its natural climax when Maggie dies. An emotional climax that does nothing because "of course she has to die." However, the film did slightly recover for me as it briefly showed his grieving process. I actually think the film could have focused more on that because finding reasons to live after an experience like that feels like it would have fit well within the theme.
Wings of Desire may be much more abstract and challenging, but I never rolled my eyes.