Touchstone Pictures // 1998 // 83 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Nicholas Sylvain (Retired) // September 22nd, 1999
A civil war in Heaven has come down to Earth.
A vaguely religious horror movie whose main attraction is another dryly funny yet striking performance by the indomitable Christopher Walken, The Prophecy II is a very odd sort of a movie and a totally bare-bones DVD.
I'm probably at a disadvantage reviewing this movie, because I have never seen the original and sequels usually depend to some degree on the viewer having seen the first film. However, this is not always the case, and in any event it just means that a sequel has to work harder to not simply be a retread of the original. Sadly, I get the feeling that the pitch for this film went something like this: "It's like the original, we got that Flashdance chick, Christopher Walken is back and menacing as ever, he fights all these angels, and it's funny!"
The story, such as it is, begins with some ominous mutterings about a war in Heaven and visuals of the Book of Revelation before we meet Valerie Rosales (Jennifer Beals) and the mysterious man who drops in on her while she is driving to work. While the strange man is attended to, even stranger things happen. Like what, I hear you say? How about a parking lot's blacktop turning to molten mush and splitting into a jigsaw puzzle of infernal pieces, out of which crawls a filthy and totally naked Gabriel (Christopher Walken)?
While Valerie is chatting with her handsome friend, Danyael (Russell Wong), Gabriel pays an ominous visit to a monk, Thomas Daggett (Bruce Abbott), whose disturbing thoughts and visions began this movie. Gabriel wants to know who "she" is, and where he can find her. When Thomas demurs, Gabriel makes him see the light (quite literally) and leaves in a foul mood. As Thomas is becoming one with his inner carbon, Danyael is feeling so much better that he's out of the hospital and walking Valerie home. Either he is good, or she is really, really lonely, or both, because in short order he's doing the mattress dance with her, and it must be so good that she misses the strange visions of creatures that float by.
Danyael disappears in short order, because he's late for some strange vampire-like fighting alongside his pal Rafayel (William Prael). They just manage to fight off their vaguely evil opponents before Gabriel crashes the fun, looking for "her" again. Rafayel is killed and Danyael runs away, leaving Gabriel still fuming. "Kids!" he says, "They don't listen these days." Meanwhile, Valerie finds out that not only is she pregnant, but she's in her second trimester already. This is quite a feat, considering she's had sex a mere two days ago with Danyael, for the first time in many, many months with any man!
Valerie is the woman that Gabriel is searching for, and her child the rumored solution to a civil war between angels. This is not the goal that Gabriel wants, and so he is interested in tracking her down so that he can kill her and her child. Unfortunately for Gabriel, he is unfamiliar with computers and other modern technology and this hampers his search. So, being the resourceful angry angel that he is, he locates a pair of teenagers intent on a suicide pact. One lives, and one dies, so Gabriel takes the survivor (?), Izzy, and makes her into his guide to modern life.
Valerie is spooked enough to dig around the monastery where Thomas Daggett was turned into a bag of Kingsford briquettes. She gets some dark words of wisdom from Father William (John Hertzler) as well as Daggett's book, where he wrote down all of his revelations. She barely has time to get home before Gabriel drops in and throws her around a bit (in between wisecracks) until Danyael comes to the rescue. Valerie runs around the neighborhood, chased by Gabriel, his reluctant sidekick, and his verbal jabs. Eventually, Danyael and Valerie escape, taking refuge in a nearby church.
Each side takes a breather, as Gabriel and Izzy discuss matters in a small coffee shop, and Danyael and Valerie do the same in the church. The audience hopefully pays attention to this exposition, as we then are treated to another angelic (?) confrontation in the church. The police respond to a silent alarm, and when they find Gabriel standing there with a gun in his hand, they Swiss cheese him. Danyael and Valerie run off into the night in search of an actual Eden, while the police deal with a Gabriel corpse and a less than helpful Izzy. Gabriel is not quite dead, of course, and he gets better in short order.
Danyael and Valerie reach Eden, which apparently is a forbidding industrial structure of some kind, and talk to head honcho Michael (Eric Roberts). They chat a little about the war, until Gabriel comes a'calling, the indubitable Izzy not far behind. For reasons that are not entirely clear, Michael lets Gabriel in and allows the final showdown between Gabriel/Izzy and Danyael/Valerie to proceed to its conclusion. Certain sacrifices are made, but in the end Gabriel is harshly punished and Valerie lives to raise her spawn, er, child in an uncertain future...leaving the way (shudder) for another sequel.
Video is about average for a Buena Vista disc: a non-anamorphic transfer that is on the soft side, but quite clean and free of most dirt and film defects. Colors are muted in their saturation and flesh tones are on the pale side. Several scenes are far too dark and lacking in shadow detail, while I did notice some shimmering from digital enhancement. Fortunately, video noise and pixelation are kept well in check throughout the film.
The audio is adequate but somewhat flawed Dolby Surround. I had to turn the volume up several notches more than usual to understand the dialogue, which was often very soft and buried amidst the music and sound effects. The soundfield is very center-oriented, with minimal channel separation and moderate duty for the subwoofer.
Acting? Well, it's not that bad, really, not when I compare it to some other horror movies that I've reviewed (like Russell Mulcahy's Tale of the Mummy or Progeny). Nobody sticks out like a sore (wooden) thumb, at least, and for a change the unintentional humor is kept in check. Christopher Walken steals the show, and everyone else simply suffers very badly in comparison. He is, well, exactly what we want from Christopher Walken. Poised, witty, and utterly expressive, while also being sinister and menacing, chewing scenery all the while. If you aren't a Walken fan, then you have my sympathies, because there's not much else here for you.
Extras? What extras? There are none, not even a lousy trailer, unless you count that idiotic static film recommendation section (which I don't). Considering that most of these actors are not exactly well known, it would have been helpful to include the basic bio/filmography section that just about every other studio includes as basic material. The only bright spot is the use of the preferred Amaray keep case.
Is there a story? Well, a little one, at least. The Prophecy II seems to suffer from that typical sequel disease where an independent, fully detailed plot is sacrificed in favor of a story that only sketches things out and relies upon a knowledge of the previous film. This flaw is aggravated by frequent jumping around from place to place, creating a film that lacks a compelling, consistent core. This limits the degree of suspense that can be achieved, as an audience that is not painfully aware of the details of a character's dangerous situation (as we all were in Alien) can hardly be expected to experience the thrill of horror when terrible events unfold.
If you are a Christopher Walken fan, or a fan of this sort of horror movie, then by all means have some fun with The Prophecy II. The more casual viewer is probably better off giving it a miss, and only a fan is going to be willing to pay the price ($30) for this flick on a bare-bones disc.
The film, aside from Christopher Walken's performance, is guilty of wasting my time, and Buena Vista is guilty of shipping yet another disc without even a minimal set of bonus content. Bring out the hot coals and pincers!
Review content copyright © 1999 Nicholas Sylvain; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Touchstone Pictures
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 83 Minutes
Release Year: 1998
MPAA Rating: Rated R