Plot: What’s it about?
Before Arnold Schwarzenegger came along, being named Arnold probably had a negative conotation about it. Arnold changed all that, and has saved the world against aliens and enemies, both foreign and domestic, more tmes than we can count. In recent years, he has shyed away from doing this sort of movie and has done some family films, like “Jingle All the Way”. So, it’s good to see Schwarzenegger back in a full-fledged action movie as our hero. Or should I say “Anti-Hero”? Schwarzenegger plays probably one of his best parts, acting wise, to date. Sure, he was great and will never be forgotten in roles like Terminator 2 or True Lies, but this Arnold is a more down to earth actual person. An ex-police officer, Jericho (Schwarzenegger), has quit the job on the force and with partner, Chicago (Kevin Pollack) run a small Private Investigating service. Jericho holds himself responsible for the brutal death of his wife and daughter and has now let his life go to, pardon the pun, hell. Bordering on suicide almost daily, with a drinking problem, it’s clear to see that this is not the same Schwarzenegger that we’re accustomed to see. This brings us to what End of Days is all about… I can’t help but to think that this movie was cashing in on all of the “Millenium” hype, and all of the sudden, that’s a word you don’t hear that much anymore. The story starts in 1979 with the birth of the “chosen child” who is born once every thousand years to mate with Satan. If this happens, Satan will take over the world and reign. Can this happen? Of course not. Flash forward 20 years and the rest of the story takes place in the last days of the 20th Century. Satan has taken the human form of Gabriel Byrne, who plays the part with an utmost perfection, walking around with a half smirk on his face, as if he knows that he’s the most powerful thing on the planet. We also meet a priest, Thomas Aquainas, who was sent to watch the “chosen girl” and make sure that she did not fall into Satan’s hands. Why not just kill her, you ask? According to the bible, she must be watched over by faith, and not murdered (that would be Satan’s way). Jericho and Chicago meet the crazed priest as he’s at the top of a building, picking people off with a rifle. Temptation, of couse, is the Devil’s way. Throughout the movie, Satan has emassed an army of follwers, some unknowingly and some knowingly. The movie winds down, but not slowly, as Schwarzenegger and the chosen child, Christine York (Christ in New York is how she is introduced) try to avoid a confrontation with the Devil. You see, if he doesn’t consumate with her before New Year, then all bets are off and we go back to wondering if our computer will boot up on Jan. 1. Throughout it all, there are a lot of great chase scenes, enough religous symbolism to make your head turn, and a more docile Schwarzenegger that I really enjoyed watching. As I mentioned earlier, End of Days happened to come out exactly when the story was set, at the waning days of the last century, and for good reason. The movie has a decent cast, with Arnold, Gabriel Byrne and Kevin Pollack being the main stars. Academy Award winner, Rod Steiger has a small part as a priest, it’s nice to see him doing some movies again, no matter how small the part. If you’re so inclined, pick up End of Days, it’s not nearly as scary as it would have been before the New Year.
Video: How does it look?
End of Days is presented in a 2.35:1 anamporphic widescreen that looks positively amazing. While the movie itself is very dark in nature, that translates to a physically “dark” look about it. No artifacting, no shimmering, a beautiful transfer from Universal. I have to say that the transfers are looking more and more towards perfection, as DVD’s approach the three year mark, it seems as though they’ve really got the “hang of it” when doing new transfers. Watch and be amazed…
Audio: How does it sound?
Quite possibly the loudest soundtrack that I’ve ever heard. My sub is not that powerful, and my room was literally shaking. It seems that in almost every scene, things tend to blow up. Fire is everywhere, and fire is one of the better sounds in 5.1. There are several examples of the 360 surround effect, literally traveling around all 5 channels that make you dizzy if you try and follow it. Bullets whiz from the front channels to the surrounds, and several car and train scenes make very good use of the front left and right channels. Put it this way, if I want to show off how good my system can sound, I now put this disc in the player. You should too.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Universal has released this as a “Collector’s Series” and it’s packed with extras. It’s nice to note that Universal has lowered the price of most of their titles, and full-fledged Special Editions like this, can be found at full-retail for $25 and probably a lot cheaper if you look around. You get a full-length commentary by director Peter Hymas, which is very interesting a few music videos. You also get a documentary on the book of revelation, a featurette “Spotlight on Location” which has some behind the scenes with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kevin Pollack among others. Also, there is an isolated music score which I like more and more. There are also some DVD-ROM features as well as the standard trailer, producton notes and cast bios. Overall, this is one solid disc with an unsurpassed audio and video quality, and the story isn’t too bad either. I’ll be watching it again soon, so if you’re so inclined, pick up a copy. You could do a lot worse!