End of Days – USA, 1999 – reviews

End of Days is a 1999 American supernatural action horror feature film directed by Peter Hyams (The Relic; Timecop; Outland) from a screenplay by co-producer Andrew W. Marlowe (Hollow Man). The Beacon Pictures production stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gabriel Byrne, Robin Tunney and Kevin Pollak.

Plot:

In 1979, a Vatican priest sees a comet arching over the moon (described as the “eye of God”), heralding the birth of one chosen to be the mother of Satan’s child. In New York a newborn girl, Christine York, is identified by Satanists (including her physician, Dr. Abel, and her nurse and future guardian, Mabel) as the person chosen to bear Satan’s child on New Year’s Eve, 1999.

In 1999, former New York police detective Jericho Cane (Schwarzenegger) saves a banker (Byrne) from an assassin, and finds himself embroiled in a religious conflict. Cane must protect Christine, an innocent young woman (Tunney), who has been chosen by evil forces to conceive the Antichrist with Satan…

Reviews [may contain spoilers]:

“Recalling all the pre-release hype, with its promises of a “different” kind of Schwarzenegger movie, you really have to laugh. All this film is, is the same old stuff tarted up with religious trappings. It’s full of chase sequences, shoot-outs and stunts that require more suspension of disbelief than the details of the main storyline.” And You Call Yourself a Scientist!

“By the film’s fire-and-brimstone conclusion, it’s become the most ludicrous apocalyptic vision since Exorcist II: The Heretic. Unfortunately, it lacks that film’s lunatic imagination, remaining laughably literal-minded—Schwarzenegger spends most of the time fighting off Satan with guns—until it arrives at an even more laughable finale involving Schwarzenegger finding his long-lost faith.” AV Film

“It’s a fine combination of genres, and works as pure entertainment, but a thinking man’s film this is not […] If you want some Arnold action with some witty one-liners and a heavy dose of theological and mystery undertones, End of Days is your movie.” Blu-ray.com

” …highly entertaining in spite (or perhaps precisely because) of its wild jumble of movie genres. It’s rife with plot holes and (given Schwarzenegger’s established screen persona) absurd scenes, yet it’s also extremely well produced, imaginative, and at times pretty clever.” DVD Talk

“Director Hyams is as workmanlike as ever though, so some of the action moments clunk a tad, and inconsistencies in the plot are generally avoided rather than explained – why were Arnie and co. guarding Byrne in the first place? […] it’s the only movie this century where you get to see Arnold Schwarzenegger getting a severe pummelling from Miram Margoyles – now that’s fun” Empire

“The director/cinematographer Peter Hyams gives End of Days a glistening night-bloom look, combining action and rot, low kicks and high prophecy. The movie is frequently silly, yet eminently more watchable than such leaden Schwarzenegger efforts as Eraser.” Entertainment Weekly

End of Days, which is as incoherent about its mysticism as it is about anything else, interrupts stretches of doomsday exposition with the inevitable chases and shootouts and beatings that are its raison d’etre.” The New York Times

“The special effects are fabulously unspecial, the plot twists extravagantly straightforward, and the character development retarded beyond redemption. Worse still, the apocryphal source material, from which even the most talentless storyteller could spin a passable yarn, is made to sound boring.” Sight & Sound

” …for such a heavy-hearted movie there were the odd items of eccentricity, such as when Arnold gets into a fight with Miriam Margolyes of all people, as she plays the wicked stepmother who has supernatural strength. The always welcome Udo Kier showed up as well, but was thrown away in a minion capacity…” The Spinning Image

End of Days is fast paced and delivers a high level of intensity right out of the gate. There is nearly no down time in the film. It’s action packed from start to finish. It is formulaic but the formula usually works. The worst thing about the film is that it relies heavily on the use of CGI. It wasn’t as noticeably bad when the film came out but time has not been kind…” Wicked Horror

Choice dialogue:

Jericho Cane: “Should have just killed the son-of-a-bitch, less paperwork.”

Cast and characters:

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger … Jericho Cane – Maggie; The 6th Day; Total Recall; Predator; Terminator and sequels
  • Gabriel Byrne … The Man – Hereditary; Vampire Academy; Stigmata; Gothic; The Keep
  • Robin Tunney … Christine – Monster Party; The Craft
  • Kevin Pollak … Chicago – Vamped Out TV series; Tortured
  • CCH Pounder … Detective Marge Francis
  • Derrick O’Connor Derrick O’Connor … Thomas Aquinas
  • David Weisenberg … OB-GYN
  • Rainer Judd … Christine’s Mother
  • Miriam Margolyes … Mabel – The Little Vampire 3D; Little Shop of Horrors (1986); The Apple
  • Udo Kier … Head Priest
  • Luciano Miele … Pope’s Advisor
  • Michael O’Hagan … Cardinal
  • Mark Margolis … Pope
  • Jack Shearer … Kellogg
  • Rod Steiger … Father Kovak
  • Eve Sigall … Old Woman
  • Victor Varnado … Albino
    Robert Lesser … Carson
  • Lloyd Garroway … Utility Worker #1
  • Gary Anthony Williams … Utility Worker #2
  • John Nielsen … Hospital Cop (as John Nielson)
  • Jonny Bogris … Skateboarder (as Yannis Bogris)
  • Elliot Goldwag … Thomas’ Doctor
  • Elaine Corral Kendall … Anchor
  • Denice D. Lewis … Emily
  • Renee Olstead … Amy (as Rebecca Renee Olstead)
  • Mo Gallini … Monk #1 / Intruder (as Matt Gallini)
  • Marc Lawrence … Old Man – writer, producer and director of Pigs
  • Van Quattro … Satan Priest
  • Charles A. Tamburro … Helicopter Pilot
  • Lynn Marie Sager … Head Priest Wife
  • Linda Pine … Head Priest Daughter
  • David Franco … Assistant Priest
  • Steve Kramer … Businessman (as Steven Kramer)
  • Melissa Mascara … Businessman’s Wife
  • John Timothy Botka … Cop at Thomas’
  • Walter von Huene … Motorman
  • Michael Rocha … Priest (as Father Michael Rocha)

Technical credits:

123  minutes | aspect ratio 2.39: 1

Production:

Directors Sam Raimi and Guillermo del Toro were both offered End of Days, but turned it down due to other projects. Marcus Nispel was set to direct the film, but he left because of budget and script problems and was replaced by Peter Hyams, apparently having been recommended by James Cameron.

The role of Jericho Cane was written with Tom Cruise in mind, however he opted to work on Magnolia instead. Both Liv Tyler and Kate Winslet were offered the character of Christine, but declined.

Box office:

End of Days was released by Universal Pictures on November 24, 1999. It has grossed $66.9 million in North America and $145.1 million elsewhere, for a worldwide theatrical total of $212 million. The reported budget was $100 million.

Trivia:

End of Days was the last movie to be released in the short-lived Laser Disc format.

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2 Comments on “End of Days – USA, 1999 – reviews”

  1. Yet another example of critics who hate entertaining films yet heap praise on gibberish like Annihilation. While this film may not be the greatest production in the horror genre it is beyond comparison with most of the dreck produced today, such as Arrival.

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