THE PROPHECY II
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The first THE PROPHECY, written and directed by Gregory Widen, was a flawed, cult ish gem. Like Gregory's THE HIGHLANDER, THE PROPHECY wasn't a diamond, but there is just enough there to make it remain a precious little jewel of an action Thriller movie.
Good enough for a cult following to appreciate it warts and all.
A big part of that gem are the fine performances by Eric Stoltz, Virginia Madsen, Elias Koteas, and Christopher Walken as Gabriel. The fact that actors Viggo Mortensen and Amanda Plummer made such wonderful use of their minor roles all helped immensely. Whatever the script or direction was lacking, these actors made up for it. None of them were there to simply pick up a paycheck and move to their next project. They appear to respect what Gregory was doing, despite the lack of assurance seen in his work.
In some ways that carries over into THE PROPHECY II. Written by Matthew Greenberg and Greg Spence, the script is direct and simple like Widen's original, yet the spare dialogue propels it forward and deepens a movie not intended to be anything more than a fast buck.
Christopher Walken (THE SENTINEL, THE DEAD ZONE, PULP FICTION, SLEEPY HOLLOW) returns as the evil, confused yet confident Archangel Gabriel, out of his depth in the human world, among the "monkeys" as he calls us, and still believing that he can set things to his perspective of right. Gabriel is insane and so is his plan, which can't possibly result in the endgame he hopes to achieve. But Gabriel will listen to no one, not even the Archangel Michael himself. Gabriel believes he can force God to once again love the angels more than the monkeys. But to do that, he has to burn creation.
Gabriel's plan is so selfish and poorly thought out, yet his power is so strong, that even Satan throws him out of the pit (See the first THE PROPHECY), saying,
So Gabriel is back to work his mighty mischief. THE PROPHECY movies are not about whether Gabriel will ever win: it's a given that he won't. He was already told that in the first movie. We watch Zombie movies not expecting them to win the earth or destroy it (the mindless zombies wouldn't know if they had won or not. That's not what zombies are about). Like zombie movies, the THE PROPHECY movies are about us and how we survive the impossible.
So a catholic monk goes into screaming fits, tearing out pages from the bible, saying "He's returned!"
As it is with the Prophecy movies, things happen beyond the understanding of humans that may or may not have a relation to the designs in heaven or hell. We are merely vessels to the immortals and nothing more.
"I've turned rivers into blood: Kings to cripples; Cities to salt. So I don't think I have to explain myself to you."
Somewhere in Los Angeles a woman named Valerie (Jennifer Beals: THE BRIDE, VAMPIRE'S KISS, THE GRUDGE, 2, THE BOOK OF ELI) is driving to work. She is a nurse. As she listens to her radio news and lives yet another day in her drab existence, a man falls out of the sky from nowhere and hits her car.
Later on his hospital bed, the struck man hears an apology from Valerie and forgives her. His name is Daniel (Russell Wong: THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR) and he knows her name, a lot about her actually, and whenever he asks a question, he speaks with a tone of such surety that you'd think he already knows the answer, and that the question is only there to put her at ease.
Well, you know how people are. One thing leads to another, they do the double backed monkey, and Daniel splits on her.
If you know your ancient biblical texts, the ones kept out of the westernized Old and New Testaments, then you know of the Nephilim (not to be confused with Seraphim), you know what happens to Valerie next, and you know why that would put the newly freed Gabriel on edge.
Angels having sex with monkeys? That's an abomination! It was bad enough when God did it with Mary and then Gabriel had to be the one to tell her! Mary!
Daniel however, is an angel, a creature born of obedience. He was told to impregnate Valerie because she is the chosen one.
Chosen for what? Even Daniel doesn't know. He has no idea what the future holds for Valerie or her baby.
He doesn't question orders, he obeys.
"It's not that you slept with that monkey skin suit that gets me. It's that you liked it! What are you, in love?"
Still, his human body is reacting to Valerie. He's surprised to find that he is protective of her, even though he wasn't told to do that. He finds himself wanting to risk his life, as both a human and his existence as an angel, to defend her.
As before, the actors from Brittany Murphy (CHERRY FALLS, SIN CITY) to Tom Towles (HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER, HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, THE DEVIL'S REJECTS, GRINDHOUSE, Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN) all turn in fine performances, allowing the acting of silence to convey the conflicts within at all the right moments. And of course this is to Director Greg Spence's credit as well.
Heavy Metal musician Glenn Danzig, also makes an appearance. Don't blink.
But the pacing is so ill-timed. The momentum coughs and sputters when it should be building smoothly. Christopher Walken has the best lines, yet each of his moments are grafted in like separate mini-set pieces to watch him act, punching plugs throughout the flow of the film.
The amateurish abundance of dutch tilts are so many (nearly every shot) that they call attention to themselves, destroying any atmosphere that returning Cinematographer (Richard Clabaugh: THE PROPHECY, PHANTOMS) could have created. And THE PROPHECY II has lots of light/dark and fog atmospherics intent on creating atmosphere.
To a point, THE PROPHECY movies are supposed to remain within an environment of everyday common, earthiness. It's meant to be day to day reality interrupted by forces of the Supernatural: Forces that prefer to blend in and keep a low profile. It's not meant to be all glitzed out special effects and bright colors.
But that said, there remains the strong foundation of a heaven, earth, and hell shaking event underlying the short-sighted, doomed-to-failure master plan of Gabriel. The Prophecy movies need to have that visionary direction like we saw in MAD MAX and THE CROW.
Cinematically the script and acting for THE PROPHECY II is up to it, but the vision of what it could have been, wasn't there.
The ultimately disappointing THE PROPHECY series remains a monumental, yet wasted cinema potential waiting to happen.
Three barely earned Shriek Girls.
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