FEBRUARY 9, 2012
I wasn't a fan of Warlock, but I figured if Warlock: The Armageddon somehow managed to get its own Sega Genesis/SNES game (which looks like a Castlevania knock-off), it must be pretty good, right? Plus, any time I look up Armageddon on some site this movie comes up as the 2nd match, so I am tired of silently judging it when that happens ("No, not you, you stupid Julian Sands movie, the REAL one!") - it's time I finally see what this movie is and THEN judge it.
Surprisingly, while I wouldn't go so far as to call it GOOD, I at least liked it more than the original. Julian Sands is in it more this time (at least it seems so), and he's kind of doing a Wishmaster/Leprechaun thing here where he's basically just being a giant asshole. His goal is to collect six stones that are scattered around the country, and for whatever reason he can't just take them, so he's gotta trick everyone into handing them over. This always results in their deaths, some of which are pretty wonderful (the bit where he turns a guy into a Picasso-esque sculpture is amazing!). It gives him the menace that I thought he lacked in the original, so in that respect it's simply a better horror movie.
Also, whenever he's on-screen it means we're not watching the far less successful scenes of the film's hero going through some half-assed "Refusal Of The Call" nonsense, where he discovers his dad and dad's drinking buddies are all Druids who have sworn to protect the town and blah blah. Anyway, they need him to join, and at first he's all like "No way this is silly!" and then they switch to a Star Wars motif (with Richard Donner regular Steve Kahan in the Yoda role) as he learns to harness his powers and such. The music is even sort of Williams-y here, and coupled with the woefully bad FX, these bits are a drag. Obviously an entire movie of Sands wandering around killing folks would get repetitive after a while, but I couldn't help but wonder if the only reason I liked his stuff here was only because it was infinitely more entertaining than watching this bland kid (and his blander girlfriend) learn how to set things on fire.
Another thing I liked were all the bit roles and cameos from horror vets: Joanna Pacula as a designer who owned one of the stones, Zach Galligan as a would-be date for another owner, Buck Flower pops up as a random town resident, etc. Plus Kahan's drinking buddies are RG Armstrong and Charles Hallahan (Norris from The Thing), and Bruce Glover plays the priest who assists in their quest to rid the world of Julian Sands. I wish ALL of the stone owners were folks that had some horror cred (director Anthony Hickox's buddy Bruce Campbell would have been great as the aforementioned "Picasso victim"), especially since the scenes seem to have influenced Wishmaster (where nearly all his single scene victims were icons like Kane Hodder and Tony Todd), but it's always nice to see most of these folks, particularly the late Hallahan. Norris rules.
Hickox is also a better director than the original's Steve Miner, giving the film some flair. He LOVES diopter shots especially; Brian De Palma would be proud of this one. Again, the FX are mostly terrible, but at least he gives the film a slight energy that the original lacked; it only really lulls whenever they focus on the heroes' generic romantic subplot. And unlike the original, there are scenes set at night in this one! Crazy for a horror movie, I know, but that's the kind of maverick Hickox is, I guess.
Speaking of the original, it's barely related. There's very little about true magic and hexes and such, and the Grimoire that was so important in that one isn't even mentioned. The Warlock doesn't seem to need human fat to fly anymore, and he's pretty much used to the present day by now I guess - there's not a lot of "fish out of water" stuff this time around. Granted, I didn't like the other film so anything they can do to make this one different is fine by me, but I assume that film's fans might be a bit disappointed that this one is more like a spinoff than a true sequel.
So who was the target audience for this movie? No idea. Those who like seeing Sands be a badass will probably dig it for the most part, but otherwise it's sort of schizo. His scenes are very R-rated and dark, but the stuff with the hero is straight out of some PG fantasy adventure movie like Sorcerer's Apprentice. And again, it's so far removed from the original's story/characters that I can't even imagine it satisfying whoever might be a fan of the earlier film. But if you, like me, didn't care for that one at all and need to watch a movie every day, I guess you could do worse.
What say you?