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hollywood never fails to astound me .
every time i think those coked-up little buggers have hit rock bottom ; they come up with a new excavating tool .
i was truly convinced that " wild wild west " marked 1999 studio filmmaking at its most hapless , but then along comes " end of days " to prove me wrong .
this big budget , brain dead apocalyptic thriller bludgeons its audience with overwrought music , grisly violence , explosions galore and lots of cheesy special effects .
the result ?
nothing but groans and yawns .
even the devil himself is unable to produce a decent scare in this festival of the inept .
at the very least , " end of days " should have done us the courtesy of being bad-enough-to-be-good , but it can't even manage that .
it's just lousy .
arnold schwarzenegger , still recovering from heart problems and " batman & robin , " plays an ex-cop turned security agent or bodyguard or something .
along with his obligatory comic relief partner ( kevin pollak , impersonating matthew perry's chandler character from " friends " ) , he gets involved in some major league supernatural hoodoo .
it seems that satan ( gabriel byrne ) gets a shot at world domination only once every thousand years ( and here i thought he'd pulled it off with the republican landslide of '94 ) .
if he has sex with 20-year old christine york ( robin tunney ) , " the chosen one , " their child will be the antichrist , or at least a brat .
ah , but this deal has more catches than a new year's eve pass from a halfway house .
the unholy union must take place on december 31 , 1999 ( you see , 999 is just 666 turned upside down ) , but only between 11 p . m . and midnight ( no wonder this guy is so cranky ) .
and if the chosen one is given refuge in a church , the devil won't know where she is , because he can't see into the sanctuary .
you know , it's kind of like superman's x-ray vision and lead walls , only evil .
a group of guerrilla catholic priests decide the best way to stop the situation is by killing the girl .
arnold chooses to save the girl and kick the hell out of satan , if you'll pardon the expression .
and kevin meets up with an exploding van and has to make some decisions of his own .
oh , the anguish !
oh , the humanity !
oh , the writing !
andrew w . marlowe's screenplay ladles implausibility upon implausibility , from the preposterous otherworldly histrionics to his handling of jericho cane , schwarzenegger's character .
cane starts the film a la mel gibson in the first " lethal weapon , " preparing to put a gun in his mouth due to ongoing despondence over the murder of his wife and daughter .
twenty minutes later , he's racing through the bowels of new york city , deciphering clues that sherlock holmes and kreskin would find baffling .
when cane meets up with christine york , he instantly switches to terminator father figure mode , with the young woman serving as surrogate daughter .
in case anyone misses the connection , the camera comes in for a close up of christine's music box , which just happens to be identical to one owned by cane's daughter .
subtle , marlowe , subtle .
speaking of cameras , director peter hyams is just the man to take marlowe's script and make it even more self-important , murky and annoying .
hyams' direction shows all the subtlety of a gwar video , with cane running a gauntlet of ridiculous action set pieces , punctuated with loads of big explosions .
eager to satisfy arnold's core audience , he even throws in a few pairs of breasts as well .
what a guy .
had the film delivered some decent scares , or even maintained a consistently ominous tone , the bombastic clich ? s might have been tolerable , but " end of days " is simply a flaccid special effects show .
the cast is just as ineffective .
in his early scenes , gabriel byrne attempts to invest beelzebub with some panache , but he all too soon turns into just another standard issue monster .
kevin pollak comes and goes quickly , robin tunney comes off like a bargain basement winona ryder and as for arnold , well ? he's a better actor than casper van dien .
that should count for something .
way back in the aftermath " the exorcist " and " the omen , " supernatural swill like " end of days " might have passed muster as a b-movie .
but that was then and this is now .
" the x-files " and " buffy the vampire slayer " deliver real scares on a weekly basis and , if we want to see the devil , all we have to do is flip on " the 700 club " and take a gander at pat robertson's grinning maw .
after enduring " end of days , " all i can say is " get thee behind me , satan .
and while you're at it , get thee a better agent as well . "
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