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End of Days

"End of Days" on DVD

One Hell of a Schwarzenegger Flick

by Jim Bray

Arnold's back with a vengeance in Universal's "End of Days," another entry in their "Collector's Edition" series of DVD releases.

"End of Days" is undoubtedly Arnold's darkest film to date, but it's also uplifting and hopeful and in the end shows that the most powerful weapon a person can bring against a foe doesn't have to be at least a semi automatic.

Schwarzenegger plays Jericho, a former NYC cop now in the private sector as a "security specialist." Almost by accident he ends up being drawn into an adventure that pits him against the biggest, baddest villian he has yet faced in a film.

The bad guy (Gabriel Byrne) is the devil himself, on earth and in human form for the "millennium" celebrations that were so mistakenly held at the end of 1999.

According to biblical legend, the end of the millennium is the devil's time to walk the earth and take a bride, after which he will rule the world.

Arnold and his partner (Kevin Pollak) end up working in their off hours to find out what in Hell is going on - and this brings them into contact with the lovely Christine York (Robin Tunney), Satan's intended.

A pretty standard hellish scenario, but "End of Days" pulls it off well in a lavish, pyrotechnic-filled production that's as larger than life as Arnold himself.

Director Peter Hyams ("2010: the year we make contact," among others), wears his usual multitude of hats during "End of Days," serving as Director of Photography as well as Big Man on Set. The production design and the cinematography are terrific and Hyams has managed to make Arnold appear almost small and vulnerable - at least in comparison to his other films.

In all, it's a satisfying fable that has enough mayhem for Arnold fans, but also (as with many other of Arnold's films) includes an intelligent plot and lots of opportunity for the supporting cast to excel. The cast does a good job, too.

Arnold has developed into a pretty good actor, and he's well cast here. Byrne is properly and simultaneously charming and menacing as the Big Guy from Downstairs, Kevin Pollak does a good job in what's basically the Tom Arnold part from "True Lies" (well, without the comic edge, which wouldn't belong here anyway), and Robin Tunney is believable as the bride-to-be.

The DVD is in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 and the video and audio quality are terrific. Of particular mention is the rumbling bass that shakes your walls whenever Byrne is about to do something no good.

Since this is a Collectors Edition disc, Universal has piled on the extras, including a full length commentary by director Hyams and a "Spotlight on Location" documentary. There's also a good section on the film's special effects (and wait till you see how they turned Los Angeles into the Big Apple!), and a soundtrack presentation that features music videos.

For those who eschewed Sunday school, there's also a section that outlines the highlights from the Book of Revelation. Naturally, there's also the theatrical trailer and some DVD ROM features.

End of Days, from Universal Home Video
123 minutes, Widescreen (2.35:1), Dolby Digital
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gabriel Byrne, Kevin Pollak, Robin Tunney, Rod Steiger
Produced by Armyan Bernstein, Bill Borden, Screenplay by Andrew W. Marlowe
Directed by Peter Hyams


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Updated May 13, 2006