of Days" on DVD
One Hell of a Schwarzenegger
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.
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,
Produced by Armyan Bernstein, Bill Borden, Screenplay by Andrew W. Marlowe
Directed by Peter Hyams
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