END OF DAYS
Review by Michael Jacobson
Schwarzenegger, Kevin Pollak, Gabriel Byrne, Robin Tunney, Rod Steiger
Director: Peter Hyams
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Features: Director Commentary
Length: 123 Minutes
Release Date: August 26, 2008
“Tell me what you want, and I’ll give it to you.”
“I’ll tell you what I want…I want you to GO TO HELL.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger versus Satan? I guess it had to happen sooner or later.
I’ve always kind of bristled at movies that attempt to re-write the Book of Revelation for their own plot points and purposes, but at least I think I finally figured out why they do it. There wouldn’t be much of a story otherwise. Because unlike what the films suggest, there is nothing in Revelation that hints we can possibly stop the events to come.
End of Days is another such film that uses the Revelation of St. John as a jumping off point, then pretty much goes in whatever direction the satanic winds blow. The result is a big empty crowd pleaser, unless you happen to take theology and the prophecies of end times somewhat seriously. Then you’re likely to feel insulted. I mean, what can you say about a movie where the devil pisses gasoline, enters Catholic Churches and kills priests at will, or where the priests themselves are actually an army of assassins?
Arnold plays Jericho (catchy name, huh?), a man who works for a security company alongside his partner Bobby (Pollak). His wife and child were murdered sometime back, and now he drinks heavily to try and forget his problems.
Good thing it doesn’t work, because he’s got a big one. Twenty years earlier, in a secret room at the Vatican, we learn a girl has been born who will one day carry the seed of Satan and bring about the apocalypse. What to do? Some suggest killing her to stop the devil’s plan, but the Pope refuses the idea. I hate to sound callous, but it seems like a reasonable notion to me given what would be at stake.
Now, in modern times, the devil has taken the form of Gabriel Byrne, and he has come after the young woman Christine (Tunney). Jericho, who had lost his faith along with his family, soon finds himself in the position of protecting the haunted girl from the ultimate forces of darkness that he doesn’t really believe in.
Sounds promising, but so much of the movie is just damned goofy. Like the whole notion of the devil having to imprint his unwilling human companion with child between the hours of 11 and midnight on the eve of the year 2000. (Jericho’s line: “Is that Eastern standard time?”) Or frankly, just the notion that there’s any chance of stopping what had been prophesied two millennium back. Or that a simple human being could battle toe to hoof with the devil and stop him.
The movie so belittles our intelligence, it thinks nothing of naming a modern day priest Thomas Aquinas, as though nobody had ever heard the name before. Or saying that the infamous 666 mentioned in Revelation was actually supposed to be 999, as in…ready? 1999. Yeah, right.
It’s too bad, because the idea of Arnold and Satan battling for the fate of the world is appealing in an overblown trash movie kind of way. I mean, it could have been the ultimate pay-per-view event. I guess if the devil were to try it for real today, Arnold would try and stop him by selling him carbon credits.
I can’t say End of Days was no fun…it offers some good action and some grisly violence here and there, not to mention possibly Arnold’s best screen performance, where he gets to show some real emotion. But this movie doesn’t just stab your intelligence, it hits it below the belt. What will we all do when Revelation starts unfolding for real…be disappointed that it’s nothing like what we saw at the movies?
This is a spectacular looking Blu-ray offering from Universal…the action, darkness, fire and violence make for an impressive high definition mix, with strong contrast and detail level throughout, both in close and long shots.
The dynamic DTS audio will make it sound like the world is coming to an end…how about that? Seriously, the explosive, expansive track with its full use of bass and surround signals is an action lover’s delight. The big scenes are loud but clean, and dialogue is never lost against the bed of background sounds.
The only extra is a commentary from director Peter Hyams.
End of Days is far from a Revelation. It offers action and thrills only up to the point that you’re willing to shut down your brain and just roll with the punches. Arnold gives an impressive performance on a top notch looking and sounding Blu-ray disc, but as far as the movie itself? Well, let’s just say the book was better, and leave it at that.