Plot: What’s it about?
Jericho Cane (Arnold Schwarzenegger) used to be a member of the New York City Police Department, but after the deaths of his wife and child, his life went into a downward spiral. He became suicidal and turned to alcohol for comfort, but that comfort has turned into an addiction. Jericho now works security details to earn money and his latest client is a mysterious man (Gabriel Byrne) who seems to have a lot of enemies. As it turns out, the man is Satan himself, in New York to plant his demon seed in a beautiful young woman named Christine York (Robin Tunney). When Jericho learns the truth, he decides to help Christine avoid the dark man and with only hours until the new millennium, time is crucial. But can a burned out soul like Jericho fend off Satan’s forces, or will Christine be forced to bear the demon child?
As cool as a showdown between Arnold and Satan could have been, End of Days is a colossal disappointment. I went into this assuming it would be a typical over the top Arnold movie, just infused with supernatural, end of the world elements. As it happens, there isn’t enough action on showcase to satisfy Arnold fans, while the supernatural drama side is just as flat, so neither end of the spectrum holds up. In truth, End of Days is best viewed in Mystery Science Theater 3000 style, with a group of friends, some cold beer, and a sense of humor. The film takes itself so seriously, yet you can’t help but laugh at some of the outlandish stuff, leaving us with some minor camp value, but not enough to save End of Days. This Blu-ray release doesn’t have the extras found on the DVD and HD-DVD editions, but looks and sounds passable. So an upgrade is questionable for previous owners, but to others, I think a rental should suffice for those curious souls.
Video: How does it look?
End of Days is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, I never saw the HD-DVD release, but this transfer looks quite good for a film with such dark visuals. The stock used and low light conditions impact the visuals even in high definition however, so expect rather prominent grain. The image holds up well though, even in the darkest of scenes and detail is a nice improvement over the DVD, no doubt. I wasn’t dazzled however, so to expect the same kind of depth here as seen in elite level transfers is setting up a certain disappointment. But as I said, detail is more than solid, so this is by no means soft. The contrast performs well and that is crucial, given how dark the visuals are. I found colors to be a little too amped up at times, but overall, this image is above average and should satisfy fans.
Audio: How does it sound?
This DTS HD 5.1 option sounds quite good, but it never reached the kind of presence found in top shelf soundtracks. The main issue I have is that the surrounds aren’t used that often, which leaves the mix a little flat. In the instances where all the channels are put into motion, the presence is effective, but that isn’t done as much as it should be. So the front channels bolster the mix and while it sounds good, you just know it could sound much better. I found dialogue to be clean and clear however, while the music is loud and well placed. This disc also includes Spanish and French language tracks, as well as subtitles in English, French, and Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Unlike the DVD and HD-DVD, this Blu-ray release is slim on extras, with only Peter Hyams’ audio comments included. This is a decision that makes no sense, since this Blu-ray disc has more storage space and the HD-DVD had all the extras, but oh well, that is Universal’s mistake.