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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 4/4/00

End of Days
Collector's Edition - 1999 (2000) - Universal

review by Brad Pilcher of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

End of Days: Collector's Edition Film Rating: B-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/B/A-

Specs and Features

123 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, dual-layered (second layer for supplements), Amaray keep case packaging, commentary by director Peter Hyams, theatrical trailer, Spotlight on Location featurette, special effects featurette, music videos for Everlast and Rob Zombie, a look at the Book of Revelation, animated film-themed menu screens with music, scene access (20 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1) and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English

"Close your eyes. You know who I am. You're just afraid to believe it."

The plot of End of Days runs something like this: every thousand years, Satan returns to Earth and looks for a pre-selected woman to have sex with. The point? He wants to have a bunch of little Anti-Christs running around screaming, "Mama" and "Dada." Assuming he pulls this off, the requisite "ultimate bad thing" will happen (i.e. the end of days). Ah-nuld naturally gets caught up in all of this, and ends up having the task of defeating the Devil before any bada-bing bada-boom can take place. Quaint but intriguing.

As action films go, End of Days is not your typical fare. As theological thrillers go, End of Days also isn't your typical fare. Due to this fence-straddling, and the fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger was asked to actually act in the movie (always a bad idea), this film doesn't quite add up. That's unfortunate, because this was not only the stage for a great performance by Gabriel Byrne (of Stigmata and The Usual Suspects) but also Ah-nuld's comeback vehicle following heart surgery. In the end though, this just wasn't Schwarzenegger's type of film. As an actor, he makes a great action hero. In some things he's great, but never in his long career has anyone expected him to actually act. This film, while quite full of action elements, opts for a more mental approach than it needs to. It simply couldn't figure out which road it wanted to take, and it becomes weighted down by trying to take both. Maybe another actor could have pulled this off, but when a strong performance is what you're hinging your film on, Arnold Schwarzenegger is not the guy to cast. Although, it is important to note that with all of its flaws, the film is sort of entertaining. When the action elements surface, they did so with superb effect.

The video on this disc is good, benefiting greatly from the anamorphic transfer. The film is dominated by an amber hue, and this often comes across muted in some prints and transfers. Not so here, as the colors are quite vibrant and well balanced. The dark scenes have appropriate black levels as well. There is some evident grain, but more artifacting is visible than anything else. It’s light, but noticeable, and the video loses a few points for that. The audio is also good, but could be a great deal more encompassing and spatial. Given the explosions and fight scenes, I should have been jumping and feeling the boom. I wasn't, but the sound is still good. I guess you can't always get it perfect.

The extras on the disc are top-notch. The feature commentary by director Peter Hyams is fun. He deadpans the entire time, and it can be intensely hilarious at times. It's also very insightful, as some of the subtle filming techniques are illuminated for us. Directors have this information at their command, but often they don't take advantage of their knowledge when giving commentaries. This time, I was amazed at how many little things I'd missed. The only downside is that there are some breaks in the commentary that seemed a bit longer than necessary. That's not a major complaint however, and this rates as one of the more interesting and entertaining commentaries out there. Also on the disc is a very well structured set of special effects vignettes. These are broken down and cover the making of just about every major effect in the film. There's a well done Spotlight on Location featurette. And the trailer, a bit of text on the Book of Revelations and a couple of music videos round everything out. One other note is the menus. These are some of the nicest looking menus I've seen. They're not entirely complex, but their lack of sophistication is their strength. The animation between sub-menus are absolutely fabulous.

In the end, we have a film that could have been a great action flick with a decent plot and quality performances. However, instead of opting for that, the film tries to pass itself off as more intelligent than it can be with Ah-nuld at the forefront. Still, it's a fun film and if you're a Schwarzenegger fan, you can find one of the better discs on the market in End of Days. For SE fans, this is a definitely recommended purchase.

Brad Pilcher
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