Mill Creek Entertainment // 2000 // 84 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // August 19th, 2011
Mankind's Last Hope From Total Destruction!
The first Prophecy film was a decent little angel-war horror flick bolstered by a strong performance from Christopher Walken slumming in the genre ghetto. The second flick played more like a cable-ready take on the material, with only a few more scenes of naked flesh needed to put it firmly in the Skin-e-max style. Despite that film not ending so well for main character Gabriel, The Prophecy 3: The Ascent followed two years later. By this point, the series has devolved into a parody of itself, overturning much of the first two films in order to bring the original trilogy to a conclusion. For whatever bizarre reasons, The Prophecy 3 is the first of the Prophecy films to arrive in hi-def, and the results are about as good as anyone could hope for the second sequel of a second-tier horror franchise.
At the end of The Prophecy 2, the angel Gabriel (Christopher Walken, Sleepy Hollow) was stripped of his angelic powers, forced to walk the earth as a human for killing Danyael. Now it's eighteen years later, and Gabriel has realized his mistake: he wants to protect the son of Danyael and his human partner. As the offspring of a human and an angel, Danyael (Dave Buzzotta, She's All That) -- named after his father -- is a Nephilim, which gives him superhuman powers. Luckily for Gabriel, there's lots of protecting to do, as several renegade angels want Danyael dead.
The 1990s were not particularly kind to Christopher Walken. Between The King of New York in 1990 and Sleepy Hollow in 1999, Walken worked mostly in the direct-to-video world (though he did have a few good roles, as in True Romance and Suicide Kings). After Sleepy Hollow, he had a bit of a career resurgence, and although he hasn't always had the most prestigious roles, the twenty-first century saw a lot more of his films being released in theaters instead of direct to video. The Prophecy 3 must have been in his Nineties contract, as this silly little film from 2000 does not have the prestige of much of his late-career work. It does, however, contain an image that sums up Walken's work in the 1990s: the now-homeless and human Gabriel, sitting on the sidewalk playing a busted trumpet as a panhandler. Walken brings so much pathos to the role of Gabriel it's almost surprising the filmmakers thought they needed all that war-in-heaven nonsense.
However, that war-in-heaven nonsense is what makes up most of The Prophecy 3. Even if it had a spark in the first film, by number three the basic formula has gotten stale. We've got rebel angels on one side, faithful angels on the other, and a vulnerable human (and a love interest) stuck in the middle. There's some fighting, some running, some detecting, and a showdown. The Ascent offers very little to change things up with the exception of Gabriel's switching sides. It all ends rather predictably.
Just as the story has gotten stale, so too has the cast list. Whereas the first film could boast Elias Koteas, Viggo Mortensen, Virginia Madsen, and Amanda Plummer, while the second film had Brittany Murphy, Jennifer Beals, and the dependable Eric Roberts, this third flick can boast a small role for Brad Dourif. The rest of the cast isn't totally awful -- they're actually dependable in a direct-to-video kind of way -- but everybody involved is cashing a paycheck. I certainly don't blame them, but it doesn't make for an exciting film.
The Ascent comes to Blu-ray in a AVC-encoded 1080i transfer. Interlacing artefacts aren't a huge problem. Detail is variable, as are black levels, but not to a distracting degree. The source itself has a bit of damage in the form of speckles here and there, but this is a very watchable transfer. The Dolby 5.1 surround audio track appears to be the same used for the DVD. It's a solid effort, with clear dialogue and good use of the surrounds in a few scenes. There aren't any extras this time out.
I have a soft spot for the first three Prophecy films. The first one is actually a decent film, and the second two are rescued for me by Christopher Walken's performances (and his absence means I haven't seen the fourth and fifth films). The Ascent is not great filmmaking, but it aims squarely for genre conventions and hits its mark.
The Prophecy 3: The Ascent isn't up to the standards set by its predecessors, but it's an okay flick rescued primarily by Christopher Walken's performance. This Blu-ray isn't perfect, but it does a decent job with the source material, making it worth at least a rental for fans.
Like the rebel angels, Prophecy 3 is guilty.
Review content copyright © 2011 Gordon Sullivan; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080i)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 84 Minutes
Release Year: 2000
MPAA Rating: Rated R