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Hyped to the heavens when it first came out as Schwarzenegger's
comeback movie, this 1999 film steers the Governor away from his
attempts at comedy and collaborations with Danny Devito and back into
the sort of action packed carnage that made his name in the first
place. However, where the likes of Commando had him portraying
invincible supermen with a neat array of guns and one liners to hand,
End of Days is considerably darker.
Set in New York on the eve of Millennium, the film shows a version of the Austrian Oak previously never witnessed. He plays Jericho Cane, an alcoholic ex-Cop in charge of a security squad who finds himself embroiled in a battle to save a young girl (Robin Tunney) from being raped by the devil (a sadly, rather ineffective Gabriel Byrne) and bringing about Armageddon. As you do.
Cane himself is not the best sort of man for saving all creation either. He is mired in deep depression, has abandoned any faith in God he may have once had and when we first see him, is contemplating suicide. However, saving the girl gives him a drive and determination even when faced with some conflicting views from the Catholic Church about how best to go about this. All of this takes place in a very grim and gritty vision of New York where the rain never stops falling, urban decay is rife and pillars of steam rise from manhole covers. It is a fitting location for the end of all creation to begin and cast a dark veil over the flick.
Of course, that isn't to say the film is all doom and gloom as there are a few glimpses of just how seriously the makers weren't taking their project (the argument between Arnold and Kevin Pollack in the former's apartment is hilarious). Plus, while the story and characters are all developed to match the atmosphere of impending dread during the first hour and a half, the last twenty minutes are made up of the kind of explosive action that strangely doesn't jar against the grimmer nature of the rest of the film, though the CGI devil at the climax is pushing it a little.
All in all, an enjoyable romp for fans of the Governator before his attention was diverted by a political career. It compares well to his classic eighties work by trying to do something different and while it may not gel properly in places, for a good 80% of the running time it does a very entertaining job.
Arnold peaked at the end of the '90s, I guess. He's battled
Terminators, Greek gods, bears, alligators, planes, and macho men in
fish net clothing. The only choice left is, of course, Satan. So they
put together a movie about Satan and gave Arnie the lead.
I think everyone working on this thought it would be much better than it actually is. The script was in development for years and Arnie fought to get it made. It's kind of unfortunate because Arnold gives a fairly decent performance in a film muddled with clichés. Of course, it's hard enough to buy a guy with a body like Arnold being a slob who drinks beer and pizza smoothees for breakfast. Getting someone like Jim Belushi might have seemed more realistic.
Apart from the physicality, Arnold's performance is fine. He cries. He does the emotion scenes well enough - at least well enough to find bearable.
It's the direction that ruins this movie. Peter Hyams is a terrible director and has ruined some very unique films in the past (his most notorious butchering in my opinion was of a 1983 Michael Douglas film called "The Star Chamber" - great premise, awful directing).
"End of Days" is like "Exorcist" meets every supernatural thriller ever made. On top of that, Gabriel Byrne should be more menacing. Robin Tunney should be less butch-looking. The direction shouldn't feel like some low-grade TV commercial - all style, no substance.
Is the movie terrible? No. It's not as bad as everyone made it out to be. But it's pretty much the definition of "mediocre." Do I own it on DVD? Hell yeah. It's an Arnold movie - it's an automatic must-buy. But if you're not a fan of Arnie, I wouldn't recommend it - at all. It pretty much feels like any average made-for-TV scary-flick - with even worse direction.
The only other good aspect of this film was that it brought Axl Rose out of seclusion to record his first original song in seven years with a new incarnation of Guns N' Roses. The song, "Oh My God," didn't do too well with the critics. A bit of a shame, really. I dug it. It also fits the industrial, edgy tone of the film.
END OF DAYS / (1999) **1/2 (out of four)
By Blake French:
"End of Days" is the first movie to seriously argue that "666" the numerical sign of the devil, is actually a 999 upside-down. Since the film was first released in 1999, the movie could not resist to throw in that little contrivance. What can you expect from a movie when its premise is based on the concept that once every thousand years if Satan impregnates a woman during the hour from 11 p.m. to 12 a.m. on the last day of the millennium, she will give birth to the anti-Christ who will bring the world to an end? I am already thinking that the movie is vulnerable to logic (is the time given in Eastern Standard?) and it will make its own limitations at the convenience of plot. "End of Days" is particularly graphic in its use of violence, but never really scares us, even with such a horrifying premise like the end of humanity.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has not made a good movie in a long time. First "Jingle all the Way," then "Batman & Robin," now we have a movie that bounces back and forth between action and concept. There are the standard "action movie scenes," where a person sways from a helicopter in mid air, where a chase scene takes place at incredible heights, where someone grasps to a high window ledge, where a subway train crashes, where a massive fire erupts in Manhattan, and so on. There are also the false shocko moments followed with a sudden burst of loud, startling music: the its just a cat scene, its just another cop scene, its just a dream scene, its just your imagination scene, he's not really dead scene, and its just maggots suddenly growing out of an apple scene. The movie is also bound by philosophy. The action is focused towards Schwarzenegger saving the world, but he cannot do that all by himself, can he? Sure he can, if he can stop Satan (Gabriel Bryne), from impregnating Christine (Robin Tunney), who was born under the religious sign of a passing comet -- and based on her birth twenty years earlier during the sighting of that comet is the chosen mother of Satan's child.
"End of Days" begins with an intriguing, although plausible, premise. The bizarre events that transpire a few days before the end of the millennium immediately inspire our curiosity. The action sequences are also fine, intensified by thrilling music and a fast paced style. The movie opens on a good note, and the remainder of the action sequences are also quite exciting. The scenes also inspire a few questions. Satan kills many people in this movie, people just like the hero, so why doesn't he just finish Arnold Schwarzenegger off like he does with so many other characters. On the other side, Schwarzenegger shoots the devil, who pulls his shirt up so we can see the bullet holes immediately healing. When using a machine-gun, the ammunition flings the Prince of Darkness backward and puts him down before he attacks again. There are simply no rules to abide by here.
"End of Days" does not have a whole lot of explanation; it plays sort of like your run of the mill action picture with the gimmick of the week. There just is not a lot of true involvement or engagement after the premise. We do care about Arnold Swarzzenegger's character, and Gabrial Bryne is an especially convincing Satan. He is devilish, with fiendish appeal, proving that tranquillity is the most terrifying evil. Al Pachino did an equally diabolical job in "The Devils Advocate," but Bryne is even more terrifying. Robin Tunney has nothing to do but exchange shameless subtext with Schwarzenegger's character. ("You're better than everyone else, just remember that." "I don't want to be better or worse, I just want to be normal.") She is more of a plot device than an actual character.
Excellent convincing set designs appear frequently, especially near the end where the characters wander through dark chambers and dim hallways. Cinematography also adds a nice touch to the suspenseful, mysterious atmosphere, all done by the movie's director, Peter Hyams ("The Relic"). It is too bad such good filmmaking does not have a story fit enough to back it up. One more thing I just have to mention: Why do the cops always show up at the end of the movie, after the action is over. I am getting very tired of that.
Despite the hokey theology and overdone action, I still enjoyed this
film and found it to be astounding in certain parts, thanks to some
incredible special- effects, at least when it came out in 1999. They
still look pretty cool. I also enjoyed the nice visuals and excellent
You just can't take the story seriously, but how many films can you, especially Arnold's wild movies? They are just there to be enjoyed, to get a couple of hours of escapism entertainment. Among the baloney, however, are a few profound statements of truth. Rod Steiger provides them as a priest in the film. Unfortunately, the devil (Gabriel Byrne) has some, too!
Overall, the story is very involving, so much so that it that at 125 minutes it can wear you. About 15 minutes of less action would have been best. One of Arnold's most entertaining movies.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Arnold fans will holler in joy, fans of brainless action will holler in
astonishment, and Catholics will just holler.
Illogically written by Andrew W. Marlowe and ham-handedly directed by Peter Hyams, *End of Days* gets The Terminator out of his open-backed hospital gown (Arnold Schwarzenegger's return to the big screen after his heart operation), whilst blowing things up in Mysterious Ways and blaspheming Biblical verse to give Catholics something more to whine about.
It is 1999 and doom-sayers the world over live in trepidation of their computers going fritz and losing their downloaded porn. Even as the technological stank of Y2K muttons the New York streets, ex-cop turned alcoholic security guard, Jericho Cane (Schwarzenegger, with the perfunctory "dead-wife-and-kid" back-story for Loose Cannon effect), must brave theological waters to save 20-year-old virgin Christine (Robin Tunney) from being conscripted as wait for it The Bride of Satan. Dun dah daaaarrrh! Stupidity ensues.
For every anti-hero, there is his anti-Christ. Gabriel Byrne is the devil here and he's out to party like it's 1999, on a mission to impregnate Christine with the Anti-Christ between 11 pm and 12 midnight, December 31, 1999 ironically, in the hour that all porn will be lost thereby bringing about the End of Days. Being able to read minds, conjure hallucinations and employ limitless magic, it doesn't occur to Satan to expedite the impregnation process by appearing months in advance and courting Christine as a teen model and then closing the panty raid easily at the appointed time; instead, he appears on December 28th like a Keyser Soze Terminator and wonders why she doesn't welcome him with open thighs (See above comment re: stupidity.) Here is a movie where nothing makes sense the moment it is uttered, let alone after contemplating its veracity or mythology. A priest (Rod Steiger) tells Jericho that '666' is really '999' upside down with a '1' in front of it. So wait - *Prince* is the Anti-Christ?
Satan Soze pursues Jericho and Christine (J and C get it?) around town, at no point doing anything which would actually precipitate their capture. In one scene, Satan recreates Jericho's wife and child to tempt him into revealing where he hid Christine. But if he can see so deeply into Jericho's mind in recreating his family with enough nuance to inspire nostalgia, why can't he see where Jericho hid Christine not ten minutes ago?
Satan can make an assassin talk without a tongue, yet he can't make that assassin unjam a semi-automatic weapon. And when Jericho shoots Satan at point blank range, Satan is courteous enough to open his shirt to reveal the wounds closing, so Jericho won't worry unduly about Satan's health - not sanitary to go about with open bullet wounds Matter of fact, instead of simply possessing Jericho himself to get close to Christine and rape her, Satan expends so much unnecessary energy on side-projects (crucifying the tongue-less guy, blowing up Jericho's partner (Kevin Pollak) and then saving him, and then blowing him up again, ridiculously battling Jericho when he could snuff him out with the effort of thought) that we wonder whether a more efficient assassin/lover shouldn't be put on the case say, Antonio Banderas.
What I find most precious about *End of Days* is Arnold's valiant attempts at The Method: "sad" means scrunching up his eyes and not blurting out anything in a foreign accent; "depressed" means raising a bottle to his lips and not blurting out anything in a foreign accent; "deathly scared" means widening his eyes and not blurting out anything in a foreign accent. There's definitely a pattern here, if we could only decipher it.
In the end, the devil is dispatched not by the holy men whom Catholics pray to for deliverance from apocalypses such as these, but from the atheist Jericho. While the timid men of an impotent god exhort "faith" and quiver in their cells doing nothing about Satan actually walking amongst them, the Prince of Darkness is thwarted by a nullifidian with a big gun and a foreign accent. Which clearly says something that Catholics blindly refuse to hear: that even if the Devil were to exist, those who have been indoctrinated to unconditionally and irrationally fear him would be unable to conjure a belief in his downfall, let alone act towards it. Further, they might not truly WANT him defeated, for only through his contrary polarity does their god's existence become tenable.
For it is written in the Book of Revelations: "And the Prince of Darkness shall descendeth upon the Earth without any solid game plan, and impregnate a virgin on a date which won't have any significance until the Gregorian Calendar of the 1500s adopts the day numbering which will put it in sync with the equinoxes and the Anno Domine syntax which will annoy sensible people for millennia, by which time, Christians will have forgotten Christ's actual birth date and appropriated the pagan Saturnalia festival in its stead. And the Prince shall effect a Revolution through tight purple pants and ambiguously-lesbian band members " I can believe the people being drained of blood and crucified, and the alcoholic built like a Mr. Universe; I can believe that a giant, supernatural monster can't kill a guy armed only with a foreign accent; I can even believe that the devil needs to perform some hokey thirteenth century Celtic Druid ritual as foreplay - but what I cannot believe is the 20-year-old virgin in New York City in 1999.
Especially around Prince...
After "End Of Days" Arnold had not really made a hit. "The 6th Day" was
a decent SCFI movie, but was a little too corny. "Collateral Damage"
was also just a decent action movie, that suffered from some bad
writing. Finally "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines" was a pretty big
letdown with way too much humor that just felt so forced.
"End of Days" is for sure his last great movie. "End of Days" takes place right around when 1999 was coming to an end and many people thought the world was too. Well in the film the Devil(Well played by Gabriel Byrne)must mate with a chosen woman who could bring the earth to an end. So, it's up to burned out cop Arnold to stop this plot from happening.
The movie has a very goofy story only teenagers would find brilliant, but the movie does have lots of big loud action,great performances,and is well directed by Peter Hyams(Sudden Death,A Sound Of Thunder).
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
End of Days gets a bad rap, but I think a great deal of this is due to
its initial premise. It's extremely 'cool' to be anti-religion these
days, so big-budget movies with a core religious theme tend to get
unnecessarily slammed. I'm not religious myself, but I do often enjoy
supernatural and religiously themed stories, due to the themes and
issues they frequently explore. So its success all hinges on whether
you can accept a plot guided by supernatural religious elements or not.
If you can, and you enjoy action movies occasionally, you'll probably
enjoy End of Days.
Arnold plays a depressed ex-cop turned high-level body guard with a suitably tragic back-story. Some people will enjoy his performance, others won't. Again, it depends on how you come to this. If you are expecting a versatile actor who changes personality with every performance, then you won't enjoy it. If you like Arnold, because he is exactly what he is, Arnold, then you'll probably have a ball. After all, who ever hired Charlton Heston or Humphrey Bogart or Christopher Walken to play a part in any way other than the specific way they do? You don't hire such actors because of their chameleon-like acting abilities, you hire them because their sheer screen presence is such that they stand out from the crowd and you enjoy seeing THEM in the role. As such, you either relish those actors in their parts, or you you dismiss them as wooden or bland. It depends on the viewer.
The director, Peter Hyams (2010, Outland, Timecop, The Relic), has a tendency to enjoy very dark cinematography, and in this case it suits things perfectly. There are lots of scenes lit primarily by flames or torchlight, that set the tone. Meanwhile, John Debney's (Cutthroat Island, Passion of the Christ) score is also one of his best, and probably one the most effective 'demonic' soundtracks since Goldsmith's Omen trilogy. I would be remiss not to mention the effects work as well. Having watched the DVD special features, I was extremely impressed with how much old-style artistry and craftsmanship went into many of the effects. There was a great deal of miniature work involved, which is too often sidelined for less effective CGI these days. End of Days used a careful blend, only really using CGI where necessary.
End of Days is a great roller-coaster ride of a movie, entirely suited to the date it was made for, and has a surprising amount of depth. Under the action and excitement, it's really a story about the main character's redemption, finding himself again, and discovering a meaning to his life after all he thought he had lost. It's also a classic good versus evil tale. To top it all off, we get a surprisingly touching and moving finale, which perhaps left a lot of people on too much of a downer, yet I found it the perfect conclusion to the story.
All in all, End of Days is either a love-it or hate-it movie. It's not perfect, but I thought it was an excellent film, and one of Arnold's most interesting characters. If you don't mind religious themes, enjoy larger-than-life characters and adrenaline pounding action, then chances are you'll probably have a fantastic ride.
Watching END OF DAYS I got the distinct impression this movie had problems
in the early production stage . The story as revealed at the start of the
film involves two sets of the clergy , one of which is trying to protect a
young virgin from the clutches of Satan while the other set is trying to
murder her so he won`t mate with her . So far so good , so why include the
character of Jerico Cane , a burned out suicidal cop ? After all the story
could have worked without his inclusion even though it may have been too
similar to THE FINAL CONFLICT in feel and execution , but I still feel Cane
didn`t have to be included while the role of the hero could easily have gone
to a good guy priest . Worse still Jerico Cane is played by big Arnie which
means through box office necessity ( ie box office bucks ) instead of END OF
DAYS being a haunting supernatural drama it ends up being a supernatural
action/adventure movie that doesn`t work . It should also be pointed out
that Arnie doesn`t have the acting range to play a burned out sucidal cop .
How about this as a casting premise: Anthony Hopkins plays a disillusioned
priest trying to save Christine York from Satan . Doesn`t that sound a whole
lot better ?
Not to be too negative the story is interesting in places , and I`m sure the first draft of the script was very moody and atmospheric until the screenplay was re-written to death . Gabriel Byrne plays Satan with the exact right mixture of charm and menace which leads me to believe he`d be the perfect choice as The Master if Hollywood ever make a big budget screen version of DOCTOR WHO . Peter Hyams direction while not perfect is far better than much of his work in recent years and does manage to inject a fair amount of mood into his work . But at the end of the day ( Pun intended ) this movie would have worked a lot better if we had an acting star instead of an action star as the hero
Arnold does some good work in this movie. I liked his role as a
suicidal/alcoholic/wiseass. I think some people were shocked to hear
speak more than one line at a time in an action movie.
..But for the one-liner lovers you get some good ones like -- Arnie(to
devil)"You're a *bleep*ing CHOIRBOY compare TO ME!!" ...and... Arnie(to
best friend) "Stop being such a P*SSY!"
Also, a good performance was put in by the guy who played Satan. The way he blew up the van....very creative.
The only thing i didn't really like about this movie was the ending. I would have liked to see Arnold win in a different way.
Overall and 8/10. Didn't deserve the bad press it got. There are other action movies like this one that are so much better received for some reason. Religion's a very sensitive subject, so maybe that's where the negative stuff came from.
Peter Hyams' End of Days stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as a fired and
alcoholic police officer, who is on the edge of sanity and tries to commit
suicide very often. He is now private security guard and traps a mysterious
sniper who tried to kill one of his clients. Soon he learns that there are
some very bad things going on in the city, and the new millennium is very
close..It is the last days of December, 1999.
I really liked the scare department in this demonic little horror thriller from this talented director and director of photography, Peter Hyams. This film is full of effective and very ominous images and scenery and the film is very dark. I appreciate perhaps most the shots above the city and the twisted use of camera up there. That really creates a feeling of evil and that something very powerful and wicked is "above the city" and is about to get power. Hyams once again shows his talent as he has been the director of photography many times earlier in his own films. End of Days reminded me occasionally of Alex de la Iglesia's great horror film El Dia de la Bestia (Day of the Beast), a brilliant mix of black comedy and VERY dark imagery and atmosphere. As incredible as it sounds, this mainstream produced film is that effective, thanks to the talented men behind the camera.
There are some flaws, too, and the most irritating things is perhaps the cliche ending, which I definitely won't spoil here, but is without a doubt there only to satisfy the audience and create the safe and familiar Happy Ending. If this was made 20 years ago, the ending would definitely have been different; it would've been how the director wanted to, not hot the audience wanted to. That tones the otherwise great and exciting finale a little bit down, but fortunately it is not as syrupy as possible. Another negative thing that I can tell is the editing which is very fast, unstylishly and ineffectively fast and restless. Fast edits can be great elements if used right and with skill, but in this film, they are in my opinion gratuitously fast and too plenty. Just watch the action scenes and count how many edits there are in one minute. The editors should have realized that sometimes - and in this case - less is more. These "flaws" are still tolerable especially when I keep in mind how many positive points there are in this film.
End of Days is also very exciting and fast paced. The train segment is great and especially the clock ticking finale when the millennium is about to change, is very skillfully created and hold my full attention. The finale is pretty similar to the finale in Kathryn Bigelow's own millennium related film, a paranoid and effective thriller Strange Days (1995). In End of Days, there are also couple of genuinely frightening, scary, sudden and loud "shocks" that require a movie theatre to fully work. The nightmare sequences are also chillingly original and brought to my mind the great horror classics that even Hollywood sometimes produced. The demon which Christine sees in her dreams is very scary and almost as frightening as the similar character in David Lynch's masterwork Lost Highway.
As a horror film, End of Days works fine and creates an atmosphere that is so rare in mainstream films nowadays. I didn't have any expectations when I placed the VHS in my VCR, and so I was pleasantly surprised of what I saw and experienced. If we stay in the 90's, I could say that End of Days is kind of tamer version of Day of the Beast and without its comic elements. There are comic elements in End of Days, too, but those are not, fortunately, the usual Hollywood one-liners and stupid bits of dialogue. Gabriel Byrne over-acts occasionally little, but many guys who play devils seem to have this problem! He is almost as "cool and modern" devil as Al Pacino in Taylor Hackford's Devil's Advocate, a film which also has great atmosphere but is more restrained and drama oriented.
End of Days gets 7/10 from me. Great work again Peter!
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