End of Days, Blu-ray (1999/2008)

by | Aug 29, 2008 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

End of Days, Blu-ray (1999/2008)

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gabriel Byrne, Rod Steiger
Director: Peter Hyams
Studio: Universal
Video: 2.35:1 anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9, 1080p HD
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Spanish or French DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Extras: Commentary track by director, “My Scenes” – collect your own favorite clips from the film
Length: 2 hours 3 minutes
Rating: ****

Arnold had just taken two years off to recover from heart surgery when he took the somewhat thankless role of a one-man fight to save the world against Satan. So it seems surprising that it resulted in his bloodiest beatings and torture of any of his films – comparable to the usual Bruce Willis Die Hard roles.  The big gimmick of the script was that the film was released in 1999 and the Devil was prophesied to do his dirt at midnight on December 31 of that year to tie in with the much-publicized Y2K scare – remember that? One of several logic stretches in the movie is Rod Steiger as a good priest explaining that the number 666 associated with Satan is often misinterpreted and should be turned upside down to appear as 999 – thereby tying in with 1999.

The ultimate evil guy shows up in New York City in December and takes over the body of a banker (Gabriel Byrne) who is being protected by alcoholic security guard Cane (Schwarzenegger), whose depression is due to his wife and daughter having been killed by  criminals he had arrested as a former cop. Satan intends to mate with Christine, an innocent girl fated to be his chosen bride, and the birth of his spawn will bring about The End of Days. After foiling an assassination attempt on the alleged banker by a priest who was hip to the whole dastardly story, Cane spends the rest of the movie piecing together the situation in spite of his lack of faith, and making herculean efforts to prevent Satan getting to Christine. After much noise, explosions and fires, he is successful (spoiler?) – though at some cost to himself – and the supernatural bad guy goes back down there where he came from.  Satan’s sales pitch to Cane to come over to the dark side has some good lines in it, and Byrne’s menacing countenance is effective.

The many dark scenes come across with fine details in the transfer to Blu-ray and the DTS lossless surround track keeps you on edge with noisy spatial effects. Subwoofer(s) will get a thorough workout on the LFE channel. The final crash of the subway cars is quite a remarkable special effect, though some of Satan’s various manifestations are a bit corny.  Another rather spectacular effect is Schwartzenegger flying thru the air suspended from a helicopter, chasing the assassination suspect.

 – John Sunier


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