JULY 7, 2011
Adieu, Gabriel! It’s unknown whether they tried getting Christopher Walken back for The Prophecy: Uprising or just used good sense and let him be, since his character’s arc came full circle in the last film, but since the film is actually pretty decent (if a bit below the standard set by the others) I suspect the latter – once again, they were actually putting a bit of effort into the story and franchise continuity instead of just half-assing it like they did with the Hellraiser and Corn sequels.
Hell, they even bring back Joseph again! But just over an IM, in a rather ludicrous moment where our new hero (Sean Pertwee) seeks info from a coroner chatroom (!) and happens to get some exposition from “Joseph_1995”, who exits the conversation in order to tend to his plants. Not exactly the most graceful tie-in I’ve ever seen, but better than, say, the guy who had the car Keanu commandeered in Speed 1 popping up in Speed 2 in the same function (albeit with a boat). Hell, for all I know there IS a such thing as a coroner chatroom.
Storywise, it’s only peripherally related to the others, however, as there is once again a fallen angel seeking something that will help make things “the way they used to be” up in heaven, with another angel seeking to stop him. Like the original, the story isn’t as clear right off the bat – it takes a while to get a good grasp on who is on which side, and if the identity of the “good” angel is given sooner than the final reel, I missed it. I hope not, it’s kind of a cool reveal and would make a second viewing a lot of fun, knowing what he was really up to and who he really was right off the start.
It’s also more of a horror movie than the previous sequels. There’s a sort of The Hidden thing going on (Thing thing?), with the bad angel actually just possessing bodies (though I was a bit unclear WHY it had to keep switching), so that adds both more carnage than we’ve been getting lately, plus some extra suspense as you’re not sure who’s the “Thing”. And there’s a lot of creeping around dusty crypts and abandoned churches and such (there’s even a bird based jump scare!), so if you caught it halfway through at least you’d know it belonged in the genre, unlike the more action/drama-based 3rd film.
However it’s a bit murky, which might be the result of its scripting process. Oddly enough, the film’s original writer follows me on Twitter, and informed me that his unrelated spec script was bought and rewritten into a Prophecy film by Joel Soisson (who also directed), so that might account for things that seem a bit out of place. For example, there’s a subplot about the secret police that seems interesting, but doesn’t quite get fleshed out enough to make much sense in the context of a war between angels. And the presence of Simon (Eric Stoltz’s character from the original, I assume?) is distracting and somewhat unnecessary, and feels like something they tossed in just to strengthen the ties to the original. Luckily, the next film sticks with the characters who survived this one (spoiler – not Pertwee, unfortunately. Love that guy), so maybe these elements will get fleshed out a bit and retroactively improve this one (the two were shot back to back).
Also, it’s just getting a bit tired. I get that they want to return Heaven to its previous incarnation, but when are they going to give up (or run out of angels)? And why is it always one on one? Can’t they send down a squad of angels to try to get the book or soul or child or whatever they are after this time? Likewise, why can’t the good faction ever be proactive and lay down the law before it even gets to Earth? No wonder they couldn’t figure out computers and such, they’re obviously not too bright. That’s another thing I missed this time around – there’s very little humor. Pertwee has a good line or two, but everyone’s grim and serious, and seemingly competent.
Back on the plus side, another thing I liked was the presence of Doug Bradley. Obviously with Walken gone they had to make up for it somehow, and who better than the star of horror’s other big heaven/hell based franchise? His role is sort of perfunctory at first, but he gets a lot to do in the third act, almost making you wish he was playing the “good” angel, who gets to have a bit more fun and gets most of the good lines. John Light plays that one, and he’s pretty good, but he doesn’t really hold a candle to the other actor who played this role (OK, I can’t talk about it anymore without explaining – spoiler: he’s Satan). Viggo Mortensen’s brief turn as Lucifer in the first film remains one of my all time favorite movie devils, and his motivation here is pretty much the same (helping the “monkeys” to prevent the renegade angels from creating another Hell, because that is one too many for his liking), which just makes it impossible to judge on its own without comparing to Viggo. At least another big icon would be fun, but to me Light’s just the guy who took Neve Campbell off the market for a while.
Oh, and I liked that they shot it in Romania and it actually took place there. Drives me up a wall when they try to fake some Eastern European country for Chicago or whatever the hell. Romania keeps letting you goons film there, show them some love!
Originally I wanted to do these every other day, which would have worked perfectly as John Carpenter’s The Ward comes out tomorrow and that was going to be my HMAD (I even said as much the day the theatrical release was announced), but alas, they are only showing it once a day at an inopportune time (5:15), so my day job is preventing me from going until Saturday. So as they were shot back to back, I will be reviewing Prophecy 5 immediately (read: tomorrow), and thus closing out the series.
What say you?
P.S. I couldn't find a trailer but here's a deleted scene that appeared on the original DVD release (which also had a commentary, making of, etc). This new one is from Echo Bridge so it doesn't have a goddamn thing. Transfer's pretty decent though.