JULY 8, 2011
Well, we knew it couldn't last forever. The Prophecy: Forsaken isn't a terrible movie, but it's well below par for the series, neither working very well as a stand-alone entry or a continuation of the ideas from all of the previous films. With Joseph not even stopping by for an IM chat and Simon's appearance even more limited and pointless than in the previous entry, there is no connection whatsoever to the first three films, and even though it continues the story set up in Uprising, it barely works as a sequel to that one either.
To give it credit, I don't think any angel mentions "making it like it was" this time around, so that's good. This time around they seek the Lexicon (magic bible) from the previous movie, as it's about to reveal the identity of the Antichrist. The "bad guys" want to kill said Antichrist, and the good guys (Kari Wuhrer from the last one, plus John Light's Satan) wants the child to live, albeit for different reasons. But while this could be morally gray/interesting, it's actually just kind of stupid. The child isn't even a character in the movie, so it's not like little cute Damien who we should want to die but can't because you just want to pinch his cheeks - it's a non-issue for the audience. Most will/should side with Tony Todd (billed as TonyTodd, actually - he's this entry's resident name star/bad guy), who isn't looking to overthrow heaven but simply stop Armageddon. What's wrong with that? Go Tony!
And by keeping the Antichrist out of it, it makes the whole movie seem like an extended prologue for a part 6, which as we know doesn't exist (and, given that it's been six years since these were released, I'm guessing it never will), which is just sort of insulting. I know I've praised the others for their strong connections to one another, but they all managed to end without feeling like another was necessary (only 2 and 4 hinted at future installments). This feels like what Empire would be like if there was no Return of the Jedi. Seems to me that they should have shot part 4 on its own, and then if it was successful, shot this and a part 6 back to back.
Satan is also sidelined this time around, and gives him only Wuhrer (a pretty lady, sure, but not given a very interesting character to play) to play off of; I don't think he even shares a scene with Todd, which seems like a giant missed opportunity. Todd has most of his scenes with Jason Scott Lee, a new character that's not really developed, though he is like Adam Goldberg in the original, a sort of slowly disintegrating zombie who is helping the bad guy in exchange for a spot in Heaven. But whereas Goldberg was used for comic relief, Lee is a brooding bore, and his character's constant flip-flopping (between helping Wuhrer and selling her out) grows tiresome. Would have been more interesting if he was the revived Sean Pertwee character from Uprising, since everyone seems to be resurrected at one point or another anyway.
And it's both short and padded, a deadly combination. Running only 75 minutes, there should be at least a fast pace to the whole affair, but not a lot really happens. Todd wants the book, Lee helps, or not (depending on the scene), and either way Wuhrer escapes and the "chase" resumes. According to the commentary track, they shot both films over a course of 6 weeks (barely over the amount of time ONE movie is usually shot), and it seems like they put all of their effort into that one; even the action scenes here are short and unsatisfying, which is a shame as the movie "took my advice" and actually had a squad of bad guys, but they're dispatched quickly and/or just disappear from the narrative. With more time/money, this could have been, if nothing else, an exciting chase movie, but they don't even manage that much, which makes its other flaws all the more apparent.
Ordinarily the review would have to end here, but somehow Echo Bridge packaged the original Dimension disc in their new package, and so instead of a bare bones disc with a generic menu, I got sneak peeks of 'upcoming' Dimension releases (Mindhunters! Scary Movie 3!) and a commentary by the Neo Art & Logic regulars, including writer/director Joel Soisson, who as always is a bit apologetic for the final product. They're a bit quieter than usual (maybe they recorded the commentaries back to back too?), but it's still slightly more entertaining than the movie, as they point out some production anecdotes (like extras who couldn't separate the fake funeral they were shooting from real ones they had taken part in) and explain some of the movie's faults, such as a dull fight scene that was scripted to be more exciting but had to be shot in an hour. I also like when they spend like 2 minutes making fun of Light's hair and how they frequently point out which sets appeared in other DTV Dimension sequels.
But that's sort of the problem in a nutshell with this one; none of the movies had giant budgets, but their stories/characters were interesting enough to forgive or not even notice their limitations. Here, with a stripped down, basic story, those blemishes became major problems. If you're a big Prophecy fan, see it (if only for closure), but others should steer clear.
(Well, I guess they already did, or else there would be a part 6.)
What say you?