Anchor Bay // 2006 // 92 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Mitchell Hattaway (Retired) // July 11th, 2006
Armageddon is at hand, and the final prophecy is about to be fulfilled.
David (Brian Wimmer, Tank Girl) and his son, Sam (Adam Taylor Gordon, Cellular), crash their truck and are rescued by an Old Man (Lance Henriksen, Pumpkinhead). Unbeknownst to David and his kid, the Old Man is really Satan. As if that weren't bad enough, the Old Man's farmhouse sits on what was once the Garden of Eden. To make matters worse, the Old Man needs David to kill Sam in order to bring about the end of the world.
As if you couldn't already guess, The Garden is one damn goofy movie. It's also boring as hell. The first eighty minutes are little more than people sitting around spouting dull, portentous dialogue, while the last ten or so are best described as what would have happened had Ridley Scott been hired to direct an entry in the Left Behind series (more on this in a minute). The plot barely contains enough material for an old Twilight Zone episode, but co-writer/director Don Michael Paul (the man responsible for the Steven Seagal classic Half Past Dead) and co-writer Samuel Bozzo (who?) stretch things out by tossing in some stereotypical bullies, a potential girlfriend for Sam who is quickly forgotten about, a couple of hot chicks who tool around in a gold Trans Am (yes, it's true, the Garden of Eden has been hidden in 1978 all this time), and some squawking chickens (they scared the hell out of me, but only because I had nodded off for a few minutes). And Sam's psychic, although this has no real bearing on the plot. And Sean Young takes time out from sticking pins in her Tim Burton voodoo doll long enough to make an appearance as an elementary school teacher whose literature class is studying Genesis and Revelation (I guess the movie takes place in a red state). All of this is surrounded by scenes in which the characters sit on porches, sit around kitchen tables, sit in diners, or sit on bicycles. Exciting, huh?
Oh, wait, I promised to talk about these climax, didn't I? Well, a flaming sword suddenly appears out of nowhere. Sam picks up the sword, jumps on a white stallion, hooks up with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (one of whom apparently borrowed his headgear from Tolkien's Witch King), and goes into battle against Satan. Director Paul finally tries to show a little visual flair in this scene, employing slow-motion and strobe effects as if they were going out of style, but it's all for naught, unless he actually was playing the whole thing for laughs, that is.
The transfer is what you normally get with these low-budget, direct-to-video affairs: it's a little on the flat side, and there is a bit too much grain in the darker scenes. The Dolby 2.0 Surround track features some good use of the mono surround channel, but bass is weak; dialogue is always clear and intelligible. Extras include a dry, uninformative commentary from director Don Michael Paul and a few minutes of behind-the-scenes footage. You also get a gallery of production stills, a rather nice text bio of Lance Henriksen, a trailer for this movie, and previews for a five other Anchor Bay releases.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Anchor Bay
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Director's Commentary
* The Garden: Behind-the-Scenes
* Theatrical Trailer
* Stills Gallery
* Lance Henriksen Bio