Wednesday, December 05, 2012

End of Days (1999)

Last week was Arnie week. I kicked it off with The Sixth Day, Running Man, then moved onto Total Recall. All are enjoyable Arnold movies. I was starting to embark on Swayze week, but I turned my attention to End of Days, which was on my Cinemax.

I actually love those Religious Horror movies. Exorcist, Prince of Darkness, stuff like that. This movie got me wondering though... what's up with Satanists? They make no sense.  I mean, in movie after movie these guys are trying to bring about Satan. For what?

In this movie, every thousand years, Satan gets his chance by finding a chosen woman and impregnating her the hour before the millenium begins. To what end? So he can rule the earth in a shroud of darkness and evil! Duh.

Okay... let's assume for a minute that this outcome is highly desirable to Satanists. I mean, God always seems to let us down and never listen to our prayers, so who wouldn't want to live on Evil-Earth? All of our pets would be replaced by Cerberusian canines that would eat our faces off when we didn't bring out the laser pointer to entertain them. Murder would not only be no longer banned, but would be a requirement. Everyone would have a monthly murder quota. Facebook would be replaced by Gorebook. I get it, these things should be desirable to almost any true Satanist... I think! I haven't been in the company of Satanists, well, like, ever, but at least Hollywood scriptwriters see it this way time and time again. Satanists want Satan because evil is just that much more awesome than good.

Assuming all of that sounds like a trip to Disneyland, there's a lot of WTF in terms of getting there. Twenty years before Satan inhabits the body of Gabriel Byrne, Satanic-follower-dude somehow knows that the prophesied child to get it on with Satan 20 years later will be born in a particular hospital. Not only does he know which child, when and where, but he brings a snake with him to sanctify...

Wait a second, I guess it can't be santification when we're talking about Satan

...evilify the child by putting blood of the snake in the child's mouth. Bringing a giant snake in a jar to the hospital -- nothing out of the ordinary about that.

Ok fine, so let's suspend disbelief on all of this and just accept the story for what it is. With that, it really isn't a bad movie. It's at least half an hour too long, but other than that it is pretty entertaining. Peter Hyams is a director who can make an entertaining movie.

The glaring problem -- and there aren't a lot of his movies I would say this about -- is Arnold. He is way way way way miscast for this movie. This movie needed a thoughtful younger actor with biceps that aren't as large as my thighs. This is one of the parts that Arnold can't pull off with of any kind of endearing or comedic factor -- Kindergarden Cop comes to mind. According to IMDB, Arnold's role in this movie was originally written for Tom Cruise. That makes a lot more sense. Mark Ruffalo was pretty young and barely established in 1999[*], but even he would have been better in this.

[*] - Go see "You Can Count on Me" with Laura Linney and Mark Ruffalo right now. It's one of the best movies you haven't seen and haven't heard of.

JSS Rating - Good / Bad. The producers and director didn't think they were making an A-list movie, but it's still entertaining. Really, only barely though. I think Gabriel Byrne makes this watchable along the way, and it's okay for what it is. This was a movie that could have been a lot. It's apparent throughout that it was one of those movies where the people involved resigned themselves to making this film no matter how many things fell through (like casting Tom Cruise).