Review Date: April 18, 2000
Released by: Universal
Release date: 4/18/2000
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 2.35:1 | 16x9: Yes
Due to heart problems, it's been over two years since his last film, now Arnold is finally BACK (no pun intended)! This time it's in the supernatural thriller, End of Days. Universal has released End of Days as a Collector's edition DVD with loads of extras. Lets take a look.
Jericho Cane (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is down on his luck. His wife and daughter were brutally murdered while he was away performing his duties as a police officer. Blaming himself for their deaths since he wasn't their to protect them, Jericho lives life day to day with suicidal tendencies from the guilt he carries with him. Now an ex-cop and an alcoholic, Jericho's only outlet seems to be his job as a security agent who protects the lives of people who feel they need protecting. By his side is Chicago (Kevin Pollak), his partner on the security team and what appears to be Jericho's only friend in his miserable life.
Jericho's latest assignment is to protect a big time investment banker (Gabriel Byrne). During his guard of the banker there is an assassination attempt made on the banker's life. After a chase through the New York roof tops Jericho finally catches up with the would-be assassin who turns out to be a priest. The priest proclaims that the thousand years had ended and the dark angel has been released from his prison. He tells Jericho that he doesn't realize what he's done by preventing him from killing the banker, who the priest believes is the dark angel. As he states this the priest raises his gun to Jericho who in turn shoots the priest. When police arrive on the scene they are shocked by Jericho's claim that the priest was speaking and they ask Jericho if he'd been drinking. They inform Jericho that the priest had no tongue and could not speak.
While investigating where the priest came from and what his motives were, Jerico is led to the home of Christine York (Robin Tunney). When he arrives at Christine's home she is being attacked by a group of priests who they later learn are called "The Vatican Knights". Jerico saves Christine and the Knights flea. Soon more people show up to try and take Christine, but these people are after her for a different reason. Jerico and Christine find themselves on the run for their lives. They end up at a church where Father Kovak (Rod Steiger) tells them of the "End of Days" - on the eve of every millenium Satan returns to the land of the living to find a woman to bear his child. If this child is consummated in the final hour of the millenium Satan will have unlocked the gates of Hell and will rule the land of the living. Christine has the mark of the chosen one - she is Satan's mate to be. With Satan and a whole slew of his followers after them, Jerico must recover his lost faith in order to save Christine from bearing Satan's child and unleashing him unto the world.
End of Days is and is not your standard Arnold movie. I say this because as with all Arnold movies you see him with guns and kicking some bad guy ass. But End of Days is also not your standard Arnold movie. First, End of Days has the mix of horror thrown into it which certainly separates it from any other Arnold movie. Also, Arnold isn't portrayed as some invincible character, without emotion, who can do all this ass kicking without getting a scratch on him. No, End of Days does stand out and have it's own unique quality. You get to see Arnold do some types of acting that he's never done before, and he did fairly well at it. He's still not a great actor, but when it comes to playing the tough guy Arnold is the man. But in End of Days we get to see Arnold playing the non-invincible, emotional tough guy which I enjoyed seeing.
The person who stole the show was Gabriel Byrne, playing the human form of Satan. He's an attractive man that was able to portray a charming, seductive, and erotic Satan. In addition he was cool, cocky and fearless. All of these qualities I would expect from Satan and Gabriel delivered perfectly. The acting overall was great, but Gabriel stole the show I thought.
The whole "End of Days" premise seemed a bit silly to me, but I still enjoyed the movie. Mostly due to some great performances and good special effects. I should be up front with all of you, however. I'm a sucker for any Arnold action movie. What can I say? I grew up on the stuff. Nothing brings back childhood memories like seeing Arnold kick some ass. And for me End of Days did exactly that.
Universal presents End of Days letterboxed at 2.35:1 in a flawless anamorphic transfer. Overall the transfer is dark (yes, I realize the irony of making such a statement while attaching one of the brightest screen shots next to it) but in the commentary the director explains that it was his intention for the film to be dark and that he likes to use "as little light as possible". In that case Universal did a wonderful job bringing the theatrical presentation of End of Days into this DVD.
The image quality is extremely sharp. No grain or specks were observed at all during the presentation. Colors were strong and solid, blacks were solid throughout all of the dark scenes in the film. An excellent transfer, as is the norm, from Universal.
Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 End of Days sounded INCREDIBLE! I think this is one of the best Dolby Digital tracks I've ever heard from a DVD. The explosions had my system pounding away, bullets were whizzing by from my rears. I think one of the small disadvantages to most horror films is that there aren't many loud action scenes. You generally have some beautiful girl being hacked to pieces - that doesn't leave much room for your rears and subwoofer to get a workout. End of Days has the advantage of being a horror/action film and that really shows. All speakers were very active throughout the entire film and I enjoyed it immensely. No distortion was heard during the film.
The one complaint I have is the lack of a DTS soundtrack on this DVD. I don't understand why Universal can release The Bone Collector with a DTS track, which seems to have about the same amount of extras as End of Days, yet End of Days is stuck with Dolby Digital only. Don't get me wrong, as I've said I enjoyed the Dolby Digital track very much. But my system does support DTS and I certainly would've liked to compare the two on a film like End of Days. A minor complaint, however, and it certainly isn't going to effect my scoring. The Dolby Digital track gets a well deserved A+.
Universal has released End of Days as a Collector's Edition with a good amount of extras. First there is the commentary track with Director Peter Hyams. He gives a lot of insight to his style of filming, why certain shots are done certain ways to match his style, and his feelings towards the actors and filmmaking in general. I tend to agree with him on the acting part - everyone did a wonderful job, but Gabriel Byrne as Satan takes the cake. Gabriel continuously states how much of an attractive man Arnold is, which is true enough, but I think Gabriel mentioned it a bit too much. I'm starting to wonderful about him (just kidding about the wondering part). There are some gaps in the commentary and times when Peter throws in some useless information, or tries to make a joke, but that's in the minority and overall the commentary was enjoyable and informative. Though it's not the type of commentary track that's going to have a high replay value, which tends to be the norm for solo commentaries.
A documentary titled "Spotlight on Location" is included on the DVD. In it you will find interviews with Andrew W. Marlowe (Writer), Bill Borden (Producer), Armyan Bernstein (Producer), Kevin Pollak (Actor), Gabriel Byrne (Actor), Peter Hyams (Director), Arnold Schwarzenegger (Actor), Robin Tunney (Actress), Rod Steiger (Actor), Richard Holland (Production Designer), Eric Durst (Visual Effects Supervisor), John "D.J." Desjardin (Visual Effects Supervisor) and Scott R. Fisher (Special Effects Coordinator). It's a wonderful documentary that runs about 25 minutes long. It was easy to tell from the interviews that the cast and crew really admired and respected one another. It also covers how the script came about, how they approached Arnold for the part, how the director was chosen, how the rest of the cast was chosen, special effects sequences and much more. Definitely enjoyable and any fans of the film will enjoy this documentary.
Next up is a Special Effects section titled "The Devil's Playground". It consists of subsections covering special effects and other challenges in the film. There is a behind-the-scenes on each section that explains it (the effect or the challenge) and contains interviews with the people involved. These subsections consist of The Train, The Church, Turning LA Into NY, Shattering Albino, Sex with Satan, Human Worms, Jericho's Possession, Church Fire and The Creature.
Next is "The Book of Revelation" which is a series of menus explaining the book of Revelation - the last book of the bible and it's apocalyptic prophecies. Also included are a never-before-seen Everlast music video, "rarely seen" Rob Zombie video, a theatrical trailer, production notes, cast and crew bios, and the Universal showcase consisting of a trailer for U-571. Lastly, lets not forget the DVD-ROM content which consists of additional information about the movie, sound clips, behind-the-scenes interviews and web links.
Certainly filled to the brim with extras. Most of them quite enjoyable too. Universal went above and beyond with this title, especially considering it wasn't the box office smash they hoped for. Any fans will definitely be thrilled with the special edition content that'll keep them busy for numerous hours.
An enjoyable movie with a great audio/video presentation and tons of extras. If you're a fan of the film or of Arnold then certainly buy this disc - it delivers the goods! If you haven't seen it then it's probably best you rent it first to see if you actually enjoy the film. The results so far seem to be mixed with about fifty percent hating and fifty perfect liking. I fall into the latter group and this DVD has found a welcome home in my collection.
Movie - B
Image Quality - A
Sound - A+
Supplements - A-
- Running Time - 2 hours 3 minutes
- Rated R
- 1 Disc
- Chapter stops
- English Dolby Digital 5.1
- Commentary with Director Peter Hyams
- Spotlight on location
- Special Effects: The Devil's Playground
- Soundtrack Presentation feature: Everlast video, Rob Zombie video
- Theatrical trailer
- Book of Revelation
- Universal Showcase
- DVD-ROM features