Much like the equally goofy The Devil’s Advocate, I have a soft spot in my heart for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s apocalypse opus, End of Days. It’s a film light on logic, but heavy in camp value, and Gabriel Byrne’s scenery chewing appearance as Satan, well, that just seals the deal for me.
It’s just before New Year’s Eve, 1999, and Schwarzenegger stars as Jericho Cane, a suicidal ex-cop now working in the private security sector with his pal, Bobby Chicago (funnyman Kevin Pollak). Cane and Chicago are entrusted with the safety of a Wall Street bigwig (Byrne), who, unbeknownst to all but his most trusted of followers, is currently lending out his body to Satan. Cane prevents an assassination attempt on the man by a seemingly crazed priest, but, as clues lead him and Chicago to a terrified young girl named Christine York (Robin Tunney), it becomes clear that Cane has found himself smack dab in the middle of the war between good and New Year’s evil.
Set amidst the backdrop of New York thrust in the middle of Millennium’s eve paranoia, End of Days mixes horror and some laughably out-of-place humor with the usual Schwarzenegger action motif. The plot has more holes in it than one Cane’s victims, and the script sports some of the most groan-inducing dialogue and character revelations I’ve ever seen committed to film. Take, for example, Cane’s deducing that the words “Christ in New York” carved into a mutilated priest’s body must be code for someone’s name. He then rattles off two or three names before settling on Christine York, and, doncha’ know it, that’s exactly who it is. One could call that divine intervention, but I just call it lazy writing.
Despite my criticisms (or, perhaps, because of them), End of Days makes for a strangely entertaining – albeit completely unconvincing – bit of supernatural silliness that never fails to bring a big dumb smile to my face. Seeing Schwarzenegger take on Satan with machine guns and grenades, well, that just never gets old.
Universal brings End of Days to Blu-ray after a brief detour on HD-DVD, and the results are satisfying, although, sadly, the years have not been very kind to the film’s special effects and, under the unflinching eye of HD, the seams are startin’ to show. The transfer, itself, looks pretty good, especially considering how dark this film is. Even scenes in broad daylight have a grimy, gloomy look to them, resulting in a serious amount of blacks that sport inherent grain. The film’s limited color palette of reds, yellows, oranges (ya’ know, hellfire!) is represented fairly well, but flesh tones seem a bit “hot”, with some noticeable orange/pink artifacting in some scenes. Detail is impressive, overall, though some is lost to grain and shadow, but that’s a result of Hyam’s stylistic decisions from nearly a decade ago.
The DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio soundtrack fares much better, with a robust front of the house mix that I could feel resonating in my floorboards. The surround mix is somewhat lacking, but overall this is a pretty sweet mix for what could have just been a hastily mastered catalog title.
Extras are limited to a commentary track by Hyams, which is odd considering that my DVD (and, from what I’ve read, the HD-DVD) version of the film features a few EPK’s and such, but I’m not a big fan of SD supplements on BD’s, so, for me, the lack of extras isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker.
As stated earlier, End of Days is one of those dopey, fun, and easy-on-the-brain flicks I find myself watching again and again, and, for that reason, it's great to have this one on Blu-ray. That being said, this isn't exactly Schwarzenegger's finest moment, so those unfamiliar with the film may want to give it a rent first to see if they share my rather skewed perspective of what constitutes a good "guilty pleasure" movie. However, if you're like me, you've got this one pre-ordered!