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The UnPopular Opinion: End of Days

07.02.2014

THE UNPOPULAR OPINION is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATHED. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Enjoy!

****SOME SPOILERS ENSUE****

Arnold Schwarzenegger movies are practically a genre unto themselves. For the most part, they are loud, nonsensical, cliche, derivative, and a hell of a lot of fun. What drives people to see Schwarzenegger on the big screen is the same thing that makes us watch movies like THE EXPENDABLES, THE TRANSPORTER, or even the awful recent DIE HARD sequels. We are red-blooded Americans and we like to see shit blow up. Hell, even non-Americans like a good orgy of explosions and violence now and then. But, even within the oeuvre of Arnold Schwarzenegger films there are some stinkers. One often maligned is END OF DAYS, a personal favorite of mine.

If END OF DAYS is to be commended for anything, it is the sheer darkness of the movie. Schwarzenegger films have a self-destructive streak in them, but END OF DAYS takes the levity and humor that most of them possess and takes it to an incredibly negative place. Peter Hyams' film is at once a horror movie, an action blockbuster, a creature feature, and a paranoid meditation on the end of the 20th Century. Combine that with Arnold's ultimate opponent, Satan himself, and you have a movie that is critic-proof. Say what you will about this movie and you will then have to take a step back and tell yourself that you are actually criticizing an Arnold Schwarzenegger film for not being an original and artistic triumph. Really? When you saw it was Schwarzenegger vs The Devil you were expecting more?

The Devil f*cked with my Glock!

END OF DAYS was released a month before the supposed computer apocalypse known as Y2K was about to drive everyone back into the stone age. But, like a lot of paranoid theories, nothing happened. Instead, we all embraced the 21st Century and didn't look back. As part of the hysteria, a lot of apocalyptic films came out with the concept of Satan and his demon hordes destroying society. But, where as most films like THE EXORCIST, THE OMEN, STIGMATA, and this summer's DELIVER US FROM EVIL rely on the clergy to try and save us, END OF DAYS puts the burden on the shoulders of Arnold Schwarzenegger's badassly named Jericho Cane. But this is not the typical Arnold we see as Cane is a broken man following the death of his wife and child. Much like how filmmakers gave Pierce Brosnan's James Bond a hurt shoulder in THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH, providing an Arnold Schwarzenegger hero with a emotional injury is something we had not seen much of from the actor. It also perfectly played into the redemption his character needs to make the ending of the film work.

Make no mistake: END OF DAYS is by the numbers filmmaking. It is every Satanic horror movie wrapped into every Schwarzenegger movie, but it is still an exciting ride. It is made all the better by Gabriel Byrne delivering one of his best performances. Byrne, who is a phenomenally talented actor who has shown greatness in films like THE USUAL SUSPECTS, MILLER'S CROSSING, and the HBO series IN TREATMENT, chews the scenery as a Satan with a diabolical sense of humor and a very nice suit. His introduction moment that involves one explosive kiss finishes, you realize this take on Lucifer is one that does not f*ck around, but will do it with a smile on his face. If anything, the Satan character was under-used in END OF DAYS, but we do need to make him someone seemingly undefeatable while not making it impossible for our hero to save the world.

You want to stick there where, Father?

The two other factors needed for any Arnold Schwarzenegger movie and any exorcism film are a goofy sidekick and a damsel in distress. Here, we get Kevin Pollak as Bobby Chicago, Cane's buddy, and Robin Tunney as the women destined to father the Antichrist. Pollak is his usual self here in a role that could have really been played by anyone. But, I kind of like Pollak's smart ass attitude and he seems to be playing off of his USUAL SUSPECTS character here which makes the kind-of reunion with Gabriel Byrne a little cooler. Tunney was on the cusp of a big screen career and her role in END OF DAYS could have taken her there, but this movie really is the Schwarzenegger Show. Everyone else in the cast is serviceable but Arnold is the star.

What END OF DAYS lacks in originality it makes up for in atmospherics. There is a huge scale to this film that rivals Schwarzenegger's biggest movies, but it also feels very claustrophobic. Peter Hyams also directed the monster movie THE RELIC which felt very similar. Throughout this movie, you can feel an ominous tone of dread and horror while also sensing the magnitude of the events unfolding on the screen. Visually, Hyams (who served as his own cinematographer) is looking to evoke the visual feel of movies like THE EXORCIST blended with David Fincher's SEVEN. The results are very dark but also perfectly suited to the subject matter.

Bet you wish you got to the choppa now, don't you?

The creature design for Satan outside of a human host is pretty spectacular if not nearly on screen long enough to make it feel like a threat. You cannot help but feel the missed opportunities with END OF DAYS had it been given enough time to develop into a less dated film. Like 2012, END OF DAYS has relegated itself to being a curiosity from the turn of the century when it could have been a launching pad for a franchise about an ex-cop/demon hunter out to save the world. END OF DAYS could have been CONSTANTINE crossed with COMMANDO. What we do have is still a fun Schwarzenegger movie, but oh what could have been!

When the unfortunate day comes that Arnold Schwarzenegger goes the direction of Jericho Cane (hopefully in a blaze of glory), we can look back on his career with fondness, finding a huge number of movies that made us thankful for the Austrian bodybuilder making the career change to movie star. END OF DAYS deserves to be ranked up there with his more unique film experiments, one that actually has a soul rather than just a body count.

Oh, and if you have any suggestions for The UnPopular Opinion I’m always happy to hear them. You can send along an email to alexmaidy@joblo.com, spell it out below, slap it up on my wall in Movie Fan Central, or send me a private message via Movie Fan Central. Provide me with as many movie suggestions as you like, with any reasoning you'd care to share, and if I agree then you may one day see it featured in this very column!

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Source: JoBlo.com

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2:54AM on 07/03/2014
The soundtrack to this movie was awesome, had some great songs
The soundtrack to this movie was awesome, had some great songs
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+0
11:43PM on 07/02/2014
While I don't feel its necessarily a good movie overall, this is one of Schwarzenegger's best performances as a real actor. It's certainly way better than Stigmata.

Fun fact: Take note of the initials of Arnold's character --> JC. I think writers like to do this a lot (see John Constantine).
While I don't feel its necessarily a good movie overall, this is one of Schwarzenegger's best performances as a real actor. It's certainly way better than Stigmata.

Fun fact: Take note of the initials of Arnold's character --> JC. I think writers like to do this a lot (see John Constantine).
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8:16PM on 07/02/2014
This movie is ridonkulous awesome sauce and if people for some reason don`t like this kick ass movie ,feck `em.
This movie is ridonkulous awesome sauce and if people for some reason don`t like this kick ass movie ,feck `em.
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8:16PM on 07/02/2014
Double post.
Double post.
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2:15PM on 07/02/2014
i have always loved this film and thought is was Arnie's most underrated performance because in this film he's the most human not a robot not a solider but a damaged person and Gabriel Byrne as The Devil was the best choice
i have always loved this film and thought is was Arnie's most underrated performance because in this film he's the most human not a robot not a solider but a damaged person and Gabriel Byrne as The Devil was the best choice
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2:13PM on 07/02/2014

Between you and my Glock 9mm

I'll take my Glock thank you!!

also gotta love the opening attempt suicide by Arnold till Kevin Pollack knocks at the door.

oh hey....i was just pulling myself together. lol
I'll take my Glock thank you!!

also gotta love the opening attempt suicide by Arnold till Kevin Pollack knocks at the door.

oh hey....i was just pulling myself together. lol
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12:22PM on 07/02/2014

Right on!

I usually am with the majority who disagrees with your articles, but in this case you hit the nail on the head for me. I have always loved this film and to this day it will always be my second favorite Arnold movie. The story was fantastically written in my opinion and was a GREAT take on the biblical end of the world scenario.
I usually am with the majority who disagrees with your articles, but in this case you hit the nail on the head for me. I have always loved this film and to this day it will always be my second favorite Arnold movie. The story was fantastically written in my opinion and was a GREAT take on the biblical end of the world scenario.
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11:12AM on 07/02/2014
My only problem with this movie- or any movie that involves the Devil is that there is no god or 'light-side' that helps. Does no one from Heaven give a fuck?
My only problem with this movie- or any movie that involves the Devil is that there is no god or 'light-side' that helps. Does no one from Heaven give a fuck?
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11:16AM on 07/02/2014
Heaven did their job before Satan came. They killed Arnold's family, turning him into the hardcore, tough-as-nails guy with nothing to lose. A family man couldn't fight that fight. God had to make him stronger than anyone could possible be, had to make him this white warrior for good - not just a scared dad out to save his family.
Heaven did their job before Satan came. They killed Arnold's family, turning him into the hardcore, tough-as-nails guy with nothing to lose. A family man couldn't fight that fight. God had to make him stronger than anyone could possible be, had to make him this white warrior for good - not just a scared dad out to save his family.
10:56AM on 07/02/2014

In total agreement with this article

This is actually one of my all-time Arnold Cavs because of the aforementioned and he was just making his comeback from heart surgery. You could see this was or could have been a transition phase in his career. I saw that along with going through Arnold withdrawal because his last movie before then was Eraser. No Mr. Freeze doesn't count imo. Also, I loved Sabotage. It gives me hope Shane Black will have some form of role (even if it's extended cameo) in the next Predator. I believe Arnold's
This is actually one of my all-time Arnold Cavs because of the aforementioned and he was just making his comeback from heart surgery. You could see this was or could have been a transition phase in his career. I saw that along with going through Arnold withdrawal because his last movie before then was Eraser. No Mr. Freeze doesn't count imo. Also, I loved Sabotage. It gives me hope Shane Black will have some form of role (even if it's extended cameo) in the next Predator. I believe Arnold's career has come full circle and we will never see another like so till his "END OF DAYS", I myself, and recommend that we enjoy that ride.
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10:52AM on 07/02/2014
I think the movie is a blast and Arnie does show some great acting chops, especially with his one-on-one with Gabriel. It's Arnie shooting RPG's at the Devil..C'MON!
I think the movie is a blast and Arnie does show some great acting chops, especially with his one-on-one with Gabriel. It's Arnie shooting RPG's at the Devil..C'MON!
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10:43AM on 07/02/2014
All I think about whenever I hear about this movie is the helicopter action scene and Nostalgia Critic's hilarious skewering of it: [link]
All I think about whenever I hear about this movie is the helicopter action scene and Nostalgia Critic's hilarious skewering of it: [link]
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10:26AM on 07/02/2014
Funny that i have been thinking about this movie these days.actually Tom Cruise is supposed to do this movie,would love to see him do a remake of this.its really cool to watch Arnold fight a Devil.Arnold fought with Robots,Aliens but fighting against Devil is a very cool concept.it somehow gives an optimistic view that man can fight devil if he is brave enough.its a very atmospheric film with cool eerie soundtrack,like The Omen.also love Pacino's The Devil's Advocate
Funny that i have been thinking about this movie these days.actually Tom Cruise is supposed to do this movie,would love to see him do a remake of this.its really cool to watch Arnold fight a Devil.Arnold fought with Robots,Aliens but fighting against Devil is a very cool concept.it somehow gives an optimistic view that man can fight devil if he is brave enough.its a very atmospheric film with cool eerie soundtrack,like The Omen.also love Pacino's The Devil's Advocate
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11:14AM on 07/02/2014
"Tom Cruise IS supposed to do this movie"?
"Tom Cruise IS supposed to do this movie"?
+1
10:24AM on 07/02/2014

at the end of an era

I just think the Schwarzenegger Action Hero Era had run its course.
I just think the Schwarzenegger Action Hero Era had run its course.
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10:07AM on 07/02/2014

Bad Ass film

Loved the visuals, the environment, the devil.. it was a fun "horror-action" movie, one that deserves a lot more credit for..
Loved the visuals, the environment, the devil.. it was a fun "horror-action" movie, one that deserves a lot more credit for..
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10:07AM on 07/02/2014

I've always loved this movie

I never understood why it wasn't a bigger hit. Such a good film.
I never understood why it wasn't a bigger hit. Such a good film.
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9:31AM on 07/02/2014

Love this movie !!!!!!!

Christine York = Christ In New York !!!!! best woedplay ever !!!!!!

" how can you expect to defeat me, when I am forever and you are just a man !!!!!! "

grest great movie !
Christine York = Christ In New York !!!!! best woedplay ever !!!!!!

" how can you expect to defeat me, when I am forever and you are just a man !!!!!! "

grest great movie !
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8:49AM on 07/02/2014
I unabashedly love this movie. I also think this might be one of Arnold's best performances. He seems so much more natural in front of the camera here. The comedy and the drama never feel forced or under whelming. Reminds me a lot of like his work in True Lies
I unabashedly love this movie. I also think this might be one of Arnold's best performances. He seems so much more natural in front of the camera here. The comedy and the drama never feel forced or under whelming. Reminds me a lot of like his work in True Lies
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8:41AM on 07/02/2014
This is probably my least favorite of all Arnold's movies. However, the movie itself is actually quite alright. Love that climax battle.
This is probably my least favorite of all Arnold's movies. However, the movie itself is actually quite alright. Love that climax battle.
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8:39AM on 07/02/2014
Not a bad flick, I was and still am shocked that Arnold had to die for our sins at the end of it
Not a bad flick, I was and still am shocked that Arnold had to die for our sins at the end of it
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8:30AM on 07/02/2014

YOU ARE A CHOIR BOY, A CHOIR BOY

I always thought this movie was bad ass. And I've never actually met someone that didn't think it was at least alright. Definitely doesn't deserve the hate it gets.
I always thought this movie was bad ass. And I've never actually met someone that didn't think it was at least alright. Definitely doesn't deserve the hate it gets.
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