Retro Film Review: End of Days (1999)

in #aaa2 months ago


Most Hollywood films made in the past decade didn't withstand the test of time. Very few of them had that happen so quickly as in the case of End of Days, 1999 supernatural thriller directed by Peter Hyams.

The script by Andrew B. Marlowe (of Se7en fame) was one of many that tried to exploit "Millennium Zeitgeist". The basic idea behind the plot was inspired by the belief - fuelled by mainstream media and fundamentalist Christians alike - that something spectacularly bad was supposed to happen on January 1st 2000. Hollywood was quick to have at least one blockbuster with such subject and have it released before that date. When End of Days arrived to Croatian cinema in the early 2000, the film lost all of its impact due to audience knowing that everything described in that film was a fiction.

And even if someone watched this film earlier, he could hardly take seriously chaotic and complicated plot that would insult the intelligence and religious beliefs alike. On the other hand, Marlowe should be at least praised for the very original interpretation of ancient Apocalyptic texts - according to him, Satan comes every one thousand years to Earth in order to have sex with specifically chosen woman and thus trigger the end of the world. Since the woman in question is Christina York (played by Robbin Tunney), 21-year old New Yorker with history of strange visions, Satan takes human form of New York banker (played by Gabriel Byrne). Satan's plans are going to be stopped by unlikely hero - Jericho Kane (played by Arnold Schwarzenegger), former policeman who works as a bodyguard and who turned to alcohol after the tragic death of his family.

The author of this review doesn't consider himself to be a theology expert, but something tells him that plot of End of Days is as close to mainstream theology as the plot of Braveheart was accurate in its depiction of Scottish history. However, even without that, Marlowe's script is too confusing and too burdened with plot holes to be taken seriously. Even more pathetic than the script is Schwarzenegger's attempt to prove his ability as serious dramatic actor in the scenes that depict him as a world-weary embittered alcoholic. Thankfully (and predictably), Schwarzenegger relatively quickly discards his "Oscar" ambitions for the sake of more conventional action superhero able to dispose dozens of Satan's minions with the help of automatic weapons.

Director Peter Hyams also does his part to rescue this film from being completely unwatchable. He provides some interesting scenes, especially with Gabriel Byrne who obviously takes great pleasure in playing character which is supposed to be the ultimate screen villain of all times. Scenes during which Satan creates apocalyptic mayhem all over New York or tries to bribe the protagonist are the best part of the film. This can't be said for those that feature completely bland Robin Tunney or uninspired Kevin Pollack in the role of comic relief.

End of Days isn't complete waste of time but all those who watch it would probably agree that this film's days were numbered long time ago.

RATING: 3/10 (+)

(Note: The text in its original form was posted in Usenet newsgroup on February 14th 2005)

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