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"End of Days"

Directed by Peter Hyams.
Written by Andrew W. Marlowe.
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gabriel Byrne and Robin Tunney.
Release Year:  1999 
Review Date:  11/25/99 

Folks-- 

Ahh, movies.  Maybe it's the way I get my quick fix, the way the lights dim, the waft of cheap, day-old butter in the air, the 4-year-old babies ask mommy why they have to be quiet, 23 different beepers ring in a harmony all their own.  The sights in movie theaters are always nice, and tonight—an opening night showing--the triks were out in full force.

But, the really exciting moment, and Penelope can attest to this from the days when we were dating, is when it gets really dark, and all of the previews have played, the dancing soda can told me to not litter, the C-note has played his final "please be quiet" symphony...and, the sound effects logo runs across the screen!

Nothing screams PHAT more that DTS digital surround sound!!!  Gunfire is louder, screams of death are in the damned room, hell, the hard-core thump of techno is in your friggin' head!!!

Phew.  Glad I got that out of the way.

I was trying to reach back, way back, in my mind to the good old Arnold days.  Let's face it, peeps:  Schwarzenegger owned the box office in the 80s and early 90s.  Even his not-so-great movies--"Raw Deal", "Red Heat" (both of which are probably on TV right now on your Fox affiliate)—made unbelievable amounts of coinage for his studio.  As many of you Bellview veterans know, my favorite Arnold movie of all time is still "Total Recall", an action movie that actually contained a great story.  "T2" comes real close, though.  The low end?  Well, if you need to be reminded: "Batman & Robin", a shockingly poor film starring a bunch of really big stars and it did everything it could to suck, suck, suck.

"End of Days" sits somewhere positively right in the middle.  It's not very bad, but then again...it's not very good either, and I'm writing this review at 11:30 on Thanksgiving eve because it is already slipping out of my memory, the classic Matinee syndrome (see "rating system" at the bottom for details).  Arnold is playing an alcoholic, suicidal, widowed ex-cop that is now a security guard for what must be the most important private citizen security force in the history of the movies.  He stumbles upon a mysterious omen that dictates that the Devil (played mostly by Gabriel Byrne, low-rent movie star) will come to earth to find his perfect mate every 1000 years to try and have sex with her to bring about the birth of the spawn of Lucifer. All the devil has to do is show up five days before the end of the millennium, lay the girl between 11 pm and midnight before the end of the 999 years, and he hits pay dirt (oh, and we all die!).

What's so great about the movies are coincidences.  So, of the five billion FUCKING PEOPLE ON THIS PLANET, Lucifer shows up and finds the girl in about 30 hours!  Sure, he's had a couple of lookouts (around during the period when the girl could be born in 1979...are you still with me?), but of course, the girl lives in New Fucking York City, and the lookouts have somehow found the mother in a matter of a few short...hours (six, to be exact!), and have tailed her for 20 years, bringing the movie to the present day.

Arnold spends the movie with his partner (role model sidekick Kevin Pollak, who basically invented the term years ago in "Ricochet") digging up clues on this devil guy, and eventually is left to guard the girl, who he tracks down through some ridiculous deduction scene halfway through the movie.  All Arnold has to do is make sure the girl doesn't do the devil by midnight of Jan. 1, 2000, and he can continue to live his alcoholic, suicidal, widowed ex-cop life.

Pollak and Byrne get all of the good lines, and Arnold gets to do all the heavy lifting with some gratuitous action sequences and generally blowing shit up.  But, no one blows things up like Arnold, so I was happy during some of these scenes.  There is a scene in this movie when Arnold's character is reminiscing about his dead child's music box, and the acting has to be seen to be laughed at.  But, speaking of bad acting:  ladies and gentlemen, Robin Tunney, who looks familiar but for no really good reason as the girl El Diablo is after.  As bad as any female acting part this year, Tunney will hopefully never work in a major Hollywood production again.  You see, when you combine a $110-million budget with Arnold's ridiculous $25-million-per-film salary (not to mention a percentage of the grosses), you don't leave any room for getting an A-list actress to play opposite Schwarzenegger.  This girl is worse than Matthew Broderick's love interest in "Godzilla", heretofore the worst female performance I've ever seen in a theatrical presentation.  Which makes me wonder...is this the same girl?

The bad:  a ridiculous plot and a gratuitously melodramatic ending (in the words of Charles "Chuck" Longer), cheap black cat scares and Arnold's "acting."  The good:  Arnold loading up with Glocks right before the end sequence, serviceable if overlong action sequences, high-tech priests and Byrne's devilish speech when he confronts Arnold in his apartment.

Hey, if anything else, you could just smell the popcorn.

Rating:  Matinee

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09