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End of Days(1999)
End of Days is the blood-soaked story of a 20-year-old girl (Robin Tunney) who has nightmares about a mysterious man. Security guard Jericho (Arnold Schwarzenegger) finds himself caught up in the situation when he discovers that Satan (Gabriel Byrne) is roaming the streets of New York City, trying to mate with the girl in the millennium's final hour. If he manages to impregnate her during these 60 minutes, she will give birth to the anti-Christ, who will put an end to the world forever.
For more about End of Days and the End of Days Blu-ray release, see End of Days Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on September 9, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Director: Peter Hyams
Writer: Andrew W. Marlowe
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gabriel Byrne, Robin Tunney, Kevin Pollak, CCH Pounder, Rod Steiger
» See full cast & crew
End of Days Blu-ray Review
One of Arnold's most bland outings is a sonic triumph.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, September 9, 2008
So the prince of darkness wants to conquer the Earth, but he has to wait until an hour before midnight on New Year's Eve. Is this Eastern time?
Speaking of the "end of days," there is a minor concern among some in the scientific community that the activation of the Large Hadron Collider on the Franco-Swiss border mere hours from now could bring about a situation in which "the whole planet will be eaten in a magnificent scenario." While most scientists, including the legendary Physicist Stephen Hawking, believe there is nothing to worry about, my advice is to click on our Amazon link above, order End of Days and a few other Blu-ray discs you've had your eye on, and plan on watching them this weekend. Either that or enjoy the ride through the Black Hole (speaking of, I'd like to request Disney release this wonderful title onto Blu-ray sooner rather than later). Now back your regularly scheduled review.
Well, it's official: I'm never sleeping again, ever.
End of Days stars Arnold Schwarzenegger (Eraser) as Jericho, a drunken, suicidal bodyguard mourning the murders of his wife and young daughter. The setting is days before the turn of the millennium, and as the world celebrates the beginning of the 2000's, that most vile of villains, Lucifer himself, plans on bringing about the "end of days" by impregnating the girl destined to bear his son, the antichrist, and she happens to be living in New York as a spunky, yet hallucinogenic, young woman named Christine (Robin Tunney, Vertical Limit). Lucifer takes over the body of a Wall Street bigwig (Gabriel Byrne, The Usual Suspects), a man Jericho and his comedy relief sidekick Bobby Chicago (not quite as cool a name as Nick Memphis), played by Kevin Pollak (Otis: Uncut), are assigned to protect. On the mission, Jericho confronts a maniacal priest with no tongue named Thomas Aquinas who is bent on murdering the man he is protecting, for he knows he was destined to be the one Lucifer inhabits to spell the beginning of the end. While Jericho and Chicago begin to piece together the clues that will lead them to Christine and Lucifer, the Catholic church struggles with its own in-fighting as two factions square off -- one bent on protecting Christine, the other on killing her.
Between your faith and my Glock 9mm, I take my Glock.
End of Days is your standard-fare supernatural thriller that fares a bit better than most action-oriented films of a similar nature thanks to a good, entertaining cast. First of all, you just cannot go wrong with Arnold, even if it is the new millennium Arnold, whose more recent movies just don't live up to the incredible catalogue of films he gave to us in the 1980s and early 1990s. Raw, unforgiving, and purely awesome movies like Predator, Commando, The Terminator, Total Recall, Red Heat, Conan the Barbarian, and The Running Man, have given way to decent but ultimately run-of-the-mill action flicks like The 6th Day, Collateral Damage, and End of Days. No good thing lasts forever, I suppose. Gabriel Byrne is expertly cast as a man possessed by the devil, and his smooth-talking, too-cool-for-school attitude really suits the character wonderfully, and for a movie as generic as this one, his character is very well-written and performed at an ever higher level. His performance is not one of legends, but factoring the high volume of cheese in the movie, it's far better than expected and lends some credibility and fear to the film. Also playing his part well is the always reliable Kevin Pollack, playing the comic relief. Breaking news: his is a comic relief character that truly is comic relief. He plays the part perfectly, nailing the timing and delivery on all of his jokes (which are funny), and becoming much more serious and menacing later in the film. Likewise, Arnold deadpans his comedy lines ("they say breakfast is the most important meal of the day," he says, after throwing last night's Chinese food, a slice of pizza off the floor, Pepto Bismol, and a few other nasty ingredients into a blender) and of course brings the goods on the action front.
As for this Peter Hyams (Timecop) directed picture, it's nothing special, I'm afraid. As noted above, the movie is saved by some decent writing and solid acting, but the nuts and bolts of the story leave a bit to be desired. It's highly predictable stuff, but it is also oddly watchable and enjoyable. As a lifelong member of the Arnold Schwarzenegger fan club, I might be a bit biased, and even if his newer movies just don't do it for me like his older ones do, I've yet to see an Arnold movie I don't like (although Junior teeters very close to the precipice). End of Days delves straight into convention with a story that is part detective, part action, and part supernatural. It's a fine combination of genres, and works as pure entertainment, but a thinking man's film this is not. That's not a bad thing, either, even if the world does have far too many mediocre action movies (some of us live for this stuff!). If you want some Arnold action with some witty one-liners and a heavy dose of theological and mystery undertones, End of Days is your movie.
End of Days Blu-ray, Video Quality
End of Days comes to Blu-ray with a rather pedestrian 1080p, 2.35:1-framed transfer. The movie rarely sees a scene featuring good lighting and vibrant colors, and its gloomy and hazy look is captured well enough on this disc, remaining true to the various versions I've seen over the years, both theatrically and on DVD. Black levels are strong throughout, though there appeared to be a loss of shadow detail here and there. Grain is visible over the entirety of the image, looking somewhat heavier in a few shots, but never so heavy as to become a distraction for those who dislike grain. Pops and speckles are visible over the print, too. There even appeared to be what looked like a cue mark ("cigarette burn") signaling the changing of a reel. Detail is only moderate, but considering the low lighting conditions of every scene, it's remarkable we see as much as we do. Flesh tones appear nicely rendered throughout, though a hint of red is sometimes visible on faces. There is a good amount of depth to the image, but this is not one destined to jump off your screen. With an image as inherently boring as that found on End of Days, there just isn't much to discuss, and the material doesn't make for an eye-catching visual experience, either. Still, End of Days looks alright on Blu-ray, a marked improvement in overall quality compared to the DVD, but it does not offer a drastic, life-changing improvement, either.
End of Days Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Wow. Universal has shot straight to the top of the charts with the audio quality on their Blu-ray discs. End of Days is another fabulous offering featuring the DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless audio codec, and the awesome quality is evident over the opening credits. It's loud but very strong and precise with an excellent low frequency presence and information coming from all directions. Imaging is also excellent throughout the entire movie. A good example comes at the beginning when a priest hurriedly opens two doors that fling open to the sides, and we hear them hit the wall in the front left and right speakers. Bass shakes, rattles, and rolls all through the movie to devastating effect on your senses. The scene in chapter three as a series of fires explode from New York's manholes is a prime example of the intensity of the soundtrack. The track also does a wonderful job of creating a realistic atmosphere. Listen to the scene in chapter six when Jericho and Chicago are looking around the run-down place where Thomas Aquinas lived. We can hear flies buzzing all around the soundstage, water dripping in every corner of our listening areas, and the film's score playing nicely through all the speakers. We also hear echoing of voices in expansive, nearly empty locales, the rumbling of a subway car speeding down the tracks all around us, and plenty of wonderful ambience. Dialogue clarity and volume is also brought to us with no hiccups. This soundtrack leaves nothing to the imagination and is another awe-inspiring listen on a Universal Blu-ray disc.
End of Days Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
End of Days comes to Blu-ray with a commentary track from director Peter Hyams as the sole extra. Hyams waits some 90 seconds to begin speaking, and starts the track with a discussion of John Debney's (Sin City) score. Hyams delves into standard territory throughout the track, offering listeners more of a technical rundown of the look and feel of the movie, focusing on sets, filming techniques, filming locations, and even admitting to a "cheap trick" in one scene. Hyams describes Arnold as "vulnerable" in this picture, a fitting description. Later in the track, he discusses how to play off of Arnold Schwarzenegger during a key moment in the film and the sadistic nature of the Gabriel Byrnes character. Hyams' track is a decent one, but it is also a track not too many will give a listen to, and even the hardcore Arnold or End of Days fans will find it rather dull.
End of Days Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
End of Days is one of the weaker entries into the Schwarzenegger library of films, but it still offers two hours of solid entertainment in a myriad of ways: good action, witty dialogue, a decent enough story, and above-average acting for a film such as this one. The religious thriller is always a nice genre to visit now and again, and whether we are talking about more horror-oriented films (The Exorcist, The Omen), dramatic films with a horror element (The Exorcism of Emily Rose), or action-centric films (End of Days), the genre has something to offer for many a movie fan. End of Days is a fine time waster of an action movie and a must-see and must-own for Arnold die-hards. Universal's Blu-ray treatment of this film is a mixed bag. It features a startling audio experience, a video transfer that is par for the course, and only a single supplement in the form of a commentary track. As such, the decision to purchase this one is not easy, and End of Days is recommended for Arnold fans and serious Blu-ray collectors.
End of Days: Other Editions
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• Today on Blu-ray - August 26th - August 26, 2008
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• Universal Announces a Trio of Action Titles - June 16, 2008
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring 'U-571', 'Miami Vice', and 'End of Days' to Blu-ray on August 26th, both as individual releases and as part of a 'Action Starter Pack' set. All three releases will have video presented in 1080p ...
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