Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Arnold Vs Satan

End of Days 1999
Director: Peter Hyams
Writer: Andrew W. Marlowe
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gabriel Byrne, Robin Tunney, Kevin Pollak, CCH Pounder, Udo Kier and Rod Steiger

This film was really the last gasp of good Arnold films. It is not a great film, in reality Arnold was the wrong person to eschew the lead role. It seemed more suited to actors like Bruce Willis or Michael Douglas. What saves the film from mediocrity is the performance by Byrne as Satan. He really chews up the scenery and is a delight to watch. This film is another good genre piece from Hyams, who has given us modern classics like Outland and The Relic. The film moves at a rapid clip and Arnold utilizes the action pieces very well. It is just hard to by him as a suicidal and down on his luck ex cop. But the more I watch this film, the more I enjoy it. It is a good hybrid of the action and horror genres.
The plot basics are this, it opens in 1980 where a prophecy says that the girl who will bear the anti-Christ is born, the Vatican searches for her, but it is already too late she has been accosted by the dark disciples of Satan. Flash forward 20 years and we find a malevolent spirit possess a man (Byrne) at dinner and Stan is walking the earth once again. Next we meet Jericho (Schwarzenegger), a ex cop who is suicidal and a alcoholic. He works now for a security firm with his friend Bobby (Pollak). They are hired to escort a investment banker and are soon attacked by a sniper who happens to be a priest. Soon Jericho does some digging and figures out that the priest was trying to save a girl (Tunney), who it seems is groomed to be taken as Satan's bride and he must consummated before the end of the millennium. The rest of the film is a race against time and insurmountable odds to keep the girl safe and to beat back the forces of hell.
The more I watch this film the more I enjoy it. It is fast paced and suspenseful. Hyams directions is frenetic and you never see where the next scene will take you. The writing is good with some great one liners for Arnold and it combines the tropes of the action and horror film and plays with them adeptly. The cast is quite good, I always thought Arnold was miscast but the more I view his performance I feel he really pulls off the role. Byrne is great as Satan and my favorite scene has to be when he tempts Jericho in his apartment, by far my favorite scene in the film. Tunney also does a good job as the damsel in distress, she isn't your typical beauty but does a admirable job in the part. The creature effects are done by Stan Winston and as always he does a phenomenal job. This is a fun film and worth seeing for both horror fans and Arnold fans.
This one gets 3 out of 5

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