NOVEMBER 22, 2007
One of my stranger holiday traditions is always taking in a viewing of one of the last Schwarzenegger spectacles (and the only one of his films that could be considered horror, and please do not make a Batman and Robin, Junior, or Jingle All The Way joke in response to that), End Of Days. I saw it for the first time on Thanksgiving, in 1999, and have rewatched it every Thanksgiving since. But the viewing comes with a challenge: I have never ONCE stayed awake through the entire film, sometimes barely seeing half of it. So every year I become determined to break this “curse”, and every year, I fail.
Obviously, this is due to the fact that I just had an assload of turkey, which is filled with delicious tryptophan, aka sleepy time juice. It could be any goddamn movie and I would probably still pass out. But since this year I had turducken instead of standard turkey, my trypto-intake was reduced by 1/3, and thus I am proud to say that while I still fell asleep, I saw more of the movie than ever, having only dozed for about 10 minutes.
Oddly, the part I slept through was one of the few scenes I somehow always manage to be awake during, which is when Kevin Pollak’s character turns traitor and leaves Arnold to get the shit beat out of him in an alley. See, until now, I was convinced that there were parts of the film I had never actually seen, having slept through them every time. But now I know I have seen the whole thing, though there were a couple sequences I saw for only the 2nd or 3rd time (out of what, 9 viewings now?) this time around. So hurrah!
On to the movie itself, it’s not all that bad. Sure, it was instantly dated due to all of the Y2K talk (LOL), and the guy playing Arnold in the stunt scenes resembles Nathan Fillion more than my governor, but hey. And some may point out the ridiculous concept, but Arnold beats them to the punch, as he makes fun of it in the film itself (Rod Steiger: “The Devil has to impregnate her by midnight!” Arnold: “Is that eastern time?” HAHAHAHAH amazing). Some of the CG is pretty bad too.
OK, maybe it’s actually NOT very good. But it’s fun, dammit. At the time, it had been a while since Arnold had done a movie, so it was a blast to see him come back fighting the Devil, and Gabriel Byrne is one of my all time favorite onscreen Lucifers, particularly due to the fact that he gets a mom and daughter in a threeway, melding the two of them into one in the process. Hot. Also, his argument against God is pretty hilarious (“something good happens, it’s ‘his will’, something bad happens, ‘he works in mysterious ways’?”). And when he takes on demon form, he looks like the thing on the Bat out of Hell album cover, so that’s certainly a big plus for me.
On top of that, there’s some actually funny lines from Pollak (“It ends in a football score?”), and a really obscure Usual Suspects reference I always got a kick out of – there’s a scene with Byrne and Pollak (who were both in Suspects), where Byrne’s urine stream is used to ignite a fire. In Suspects, Byrne is trying to set off an explosion and he is thwarted by Keyser Soze’s urine putting the fire out. John Debney’s score even homages a bit of the Suspects’ theme at this point. Well played. And the scene where Arnold puts a coffee, some booze, some Chinese food, a slice of pizza, and Pepto Bismol into a blender is one of my favorites, and I’d be lying if I said I’m not tempted to make my own, similar concoction someday.
Obviously, as this is a Peter Hyams film, one must have good eyesight and a better home theater in order to see half of the imagery (my attempts to rent the HD version for this year’s viewing were foiled via a “Long Wait” mark on Netflix), though to be fair this is one of his better efforts. There are a few daytime scenes, and only a few of the night ones will result in a “What the FUCK am I actually looking at here?” reaction, something that plagued The Relic (and worse, his action movie Sudden Death, a film that I am convinced was shot partially through the lens cap). Originally the film was going to be directed by Marcus Nispel (who went on to direct the Chainsaw remake), but he was removed (if I remember correctly, Nispel said no one could look him in the eye or something?). Since I fucking LOVE how the TCM remake looks (though half the credit goes to Daniel Pearl, obviously), I can’t help but wonder what the film would have looked like had he stayed on board. I also often wonder how much better the film would be if it starred someone who could act. Arnold’s never been the best actor in the world, and there’s a reason why a lot of his movies are sort of light (True Lies, Last Action Hero) or he plays a robot. Here, the subject matter gets pretty dark, and he can’t quite pull off a grieving father who contemplates suicide as well as Stallone or Willis could have. Oh well.
Oh hey did you notice, every paragraph begins with an O? It was coincidence for the first 3 but then I did it on purpose. It’s meaningless.
What say you?