Teens vs Angels (The Prophecy 3, 2000)

Prophecy_3_The_Ascent_PosterPicking up several years after the second film, Danyael (the son of Jennifer Beal’s character) has grown up an angry young man who has refused to accept his place or that the world is part of something bigger. Life is cold…God is dead…there is no grand design.  He has a gathering of followers. However, angels still are seeking to destroy him.

Meanwhile, Gabriel has begun to have a change in his understanding. Having spent years as a human, he realizes he has some atoning to do. He works to protect Danyael and set him on a proper path. This includes taking on the angel who replaced Gabriel in the  opposition to God, Pyriel. Pyriel has an agent, Zophael, who is using Danyael’s girlfriend to track him down.

This film is a strong continuation of the themes from the first film. The finding of lost faith is there, but there is also a strong redemption arc, focused on people atoning.

I really liked the final film in a nice little religious fantasy films.

“It’s Not a Blind, Indifferent Universe, Danyael. It Never was.”

Babies and Angels (The Prophecy II, 1998)

The Prophecy_2_PosterGabriel is back…because hell got tired of him.  Really, really tired of him. And so he gets back in league with his fellow rebelling angels. This time they are trying to prevent a union between and Angel and a woman. The resulting child could shift the war in favor of the Angels still loyal to God and man.

This film continues a lot of the ideas and motifs as the first film. It is a bit clunky at times, but is largely a pretty workable sequel with some fine performances. Walken  has a real feel for where Gabriel should be in this film.  Eric Roberts plays his opposition with a sense of authority. Jennifer Beals i s good in a somewhat thankless role as the character reacting to everything happening to her.

The film ends on a pretty interesting note with a nice comeuppance for Gabriel. For the most part, I enjoyed this second film in the growing franchise.

Monsters and Angels (The Prophecy, 1995)

Prophesy_PosterThomas Dagget once was on the path to the priesthood, but on the day of his ordination, he had a vision of war and destruction, angel against angel.  This put him on a new path…that of police detective.

Meanwhile, Angels are walking the earth to try and resolve their conflict.  Gabriel and his fellow angels are upset that God favors man above angels. This has resulted in a war that has been in a stalemate. Gabriel has angels seeking the soul of a recently deceased General who was a very evil man in life. Simon is an angel who is trying to keep this soul from Gabriel and his minions.

Simon reaches out to Dagget, who then gets pulled into this war in the heavens.

The Prophecy is probably one of my favorite religious fantasy films.  It has a lot of great dialog.  Some is short, like the discussion between Simon and Dagget where Simon asks if he is a part of God’s plan. Thomas responds that it is a complicated question…Simon quietly says back “No it isn’t.”  And this is the ongoing question of the film…is there a plan? Does faith matter? Is belief of value?  It explores these things in a thoughtful manner.

There are scenes where Satan appears (played by Viggo Mortenson) to the leads, and he has some great dialog.  Walken is great as the angel Gabriel. He is ominous and yet, there is a weird sense of humor to him.  The film builds intriguing mythology…one is that Angels cannot drive.  This forces Gabriel to get human minions…to do this, he finds souls on the verge of death and forces them to stay on earth in bodies that are still dead.

The film has some neat visuals, such as how the angels all perch on objects like birds throughout the films.

The prophecy is an intriguing film and a satisfying watch.

Overwatch (The Sentinel, 1977)

The_Sentinel_PosterModel Alison Parker is looking to get a bit of space in her relationship with lawyer Michael. Her apartment search leads to an old building with furnished apartments that affordable.

After moving in she starts to have fainting spells while on photo shoots. She is also getting to know her rather eccentric neighbors. There is Charles, who tells her about the other tenants, Gerde and Sandra and the old priest they never see who lives upstairs.

In one very uncomfortable scene, Sandra starts masturbating as Alison tries to avoid watching. This scene is as awkward for the viewer as much as Alison. The police are investigating Alison’s situation, with an eye on her boyfriend, who they suspect may have killed his wife. MeanwhileMichael is looking into her neighbors and makes a disturbing discovery…but not quite as disturbing as the one Alison makes when speaking with the woman who showed her the apartment. She and the priest are the only two occupants.

Michael Winner, director of several Charles Bronson films (including the first three Death Wish movies) both wrote and directed this supernatural thriller. And it is pretty good.  The film has some genuinely solid scares. In one scene, Christina is walking through her building in the dark when suddenly a creepy pale and neatly naked figure walks past her unexpectedly.  She is horrified to realize it is her abusive father, who is recently deceased.

The film is a bit infamous for using people with very real deformities in the grand finale, and while it is startling, it also feels incredibly exploitive. Burgess Meredith make a fine creepy old guy who seems harmless and kind (if odd) when we first meet, only to discover he had sinister and cruel motives all along.

The film is also kind of notable for early film roles for Jeff Goldblum and Christopher Walken.

Winner has created a (very) minor horror classic in the vein of an old haunted house movie. It has some real chills and has a rather interesting ending.

Back In Gotham (Batman Returns, 1992)

batman_returns-posterJack Nicholson kind of established the villains would always be played by big names.  Danny DiVito was brought in to play the Penguin.  But this was not the traditional Penguin from the comics.  Not merely a short round guy is a top hat, Burton envisioned an origin in which Oswald Cobblepot is born to an affluent family who are repulsed by his grotesque appearance. His father (played by Paul Reubens, who would play Penguin’s father on Gotham decades later) and mother (Diane Salinger) dump him over a bridge where he is found by penguins.

Batman Returns is a rather odd duck.  Selina Kyle is a meek secretary who discovers the evil plans of her boss Max Shreck (Christopher Walken).  She is thrown out a window and barely survives…but wakes after being found by cats.  She flips out and apparently has the nine lives of cats and a really sexy persona.

While the film still  has the gothic visuals, it really feels all over the place.  Adding the secondary “villain” of Catwoman means there is that much more story to address.  On top of that you have a villain in the name of Max Shreck.  Add to that a few moments of implications of Penguin being a bit of a sexual creep (for instance, he is running for mayor and he puts a button on a young woman, groping her breast as he does it).

The film has a more interesting plan than the first film, but still, the sheer goofiness makes it almost to campy.  You have penguins fitted with rocket launchers, weird carnival henchmen, evil businessmen, latex covered secretaries…It never really comes together, and falters repeatedly.

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