End Of Days

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Details At A Glance

Category Action Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 16x9, Dolby Digital 5.1 448Kb/s
Rating ma.gif (1236 bytes) Other Trailer(s) Yes, 2
1 - 16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0 320Kb/s 
2 - 16x9, Dolby Digital 5.1 Aurora
Year Released 1999 Commentary Tracks Yes, 1 - Peter Hyams (Director)
Running Time 117:01 Minutes  Other Extras Cast & Crew Biographies
Cast & Crew Filmographies
Featurette - Spotlight On Location
Featurette - Revelations (Visual Effects) 
Menu Audio & Animation 
Music Video - Everlast: So Long (4:34)
Music Video - Rob Zombie: Superbeast (3:56)
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (83:22)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 4 Director Peter Hyams
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger 
Gabriel Byrne 
Kevin Pollak 
Robin Tunney 
CCH Pounder 
Rod Steiger 
Derrick O'Connor 
Miriam Margoyles
Case Button (New)
RRP $34.95 Music John Debney
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement 16x9Yes.jpg (4536 bytes) Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448 Kb/s)
English (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 320 Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 320 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    Shortly after the critical failure of Batman & Robin, famed muscleman Arnold Schwarzenegger took a two-year hiatus from acting, during which he attended yet another funeral in the Kennedy family and underwent open-heart surgery. Before then, his career had been slightly marred by his appearance in the previously mentioned instalment in the Batman franchise. With this return, he has done damage to his reputation from which it possibly may not recover, as the best word to describe the quality of this film would be "pathetic". The most telling moment is the voice-over after the opening sequence in the New York Hospital in which the real action begins: "three more nights until every computer fails", says the disc jockey. Funny that, mine kept ticking like it was on amphetamines, so I guess it must be a oversized calculator or a supercomputer from the next century. As for the rest of the slant in this film, you know the drill, so recite the comments along with me now: everyone who is not a card-carrying member of the fanatical Catholic church is Satanic, says the imagery of this film. I am getting so sick and tired of the prevalence of this attitude in films that a lot of cassettes or discs are getting flung from my windows.

    As regular readers are doubtlessly aware, I really cannot stand films where the characters demonstrate mass stupidity, and the screenwriter demonstrates that he has no idea of what he is writing about. In any case, the plot goes a little something like this: At some point in 1979, a child by the name of Christine was born and chosen to bear the child of Satan in the last hour of the year 1999. When you stop and think about that, it stinks of being consistent with the fear-mongering that was prevalent last year, with the Christian-owned media assuring us with great sincerity that the so-called millennium bug will burn down our houses, rape our household pets, and pull out our nose hairs. Speaking as someone who worked in the information technology industry during that time, let me tell you exactly what did happen during that time: absolutely nothing. Of course, when a prophecy fails, as has just about every single one contained in the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, the believers in that prophecy generally split into two groups: those who stop believing it, and those who embellish on it by saying that Event X was really supposed to happen. Now that the millennium bug prophecy has failed, and it was known that it would fail since mid-1999, we are being annoyed by believers who go on with this garbage about how the new millennium doesn't actually begin until 2001. If a death cult cannot get its story straight the first time, then I am sure you can imagine how credible they look the second time around.

    The most hilarious moment is when the Catholic church dispenses members of its Mafia branch to go and terminate Christine, lest the prophecy be fulfilled and the Devil's child be born nine months later. I don't know about you, but I can think of a far better solution to this particular problem. Just get one twenty-year-old from the Priesthood, give him Christine's address, a bottle of Moet, some tickets to a John Williams recital, a suite at the Hilton, and let the both of them copulate until they fall unconscious. As far as I am aware, it's pretty damned difficult to impregnate a woman, regardless of the supernatural powers that I often believe I possess at this time of year, when she's already pregnant. Anyway, Jericho Cane (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a private security guard, finds himself protecting Christine York (Robin Tunney, whose most memorable performance is in The Craft, another film where the vapidity of the story annoys me) after saving her from the Catholic ministers who want to kill her, from The Man (Gabriel Byrne). Along the way, he and his co-worker, Bobby Chicago (Kevin Pollak) stop and exchange pleasantries with the police and some members of the priesthood, particularly Father Kovak (Rod Steiger). None of the events here really matter, as they are just designed to move the action from place to place until the showdown between Jericho and a CGI Devil that looks like something I often see in front of me during this time of the year. When all is said and done, I am sincerely hoping that the next Arnie flick that is supposed to be unleashed upon us according to the biography, On The Sixth Day, is a lot better than this.

Transfer Quality


    Well, Roadshow Home Entertainment have once again proven to me that the more I enjoy the film, the worse the transfer will be. So it comes as no surprise to me that a film like End Of Days, which manages to consistently offend me for ninety percent of the viewing time, boasts a transfer that is essentially perfect for a similar portion of the viewing time. The transfer is presented in the aspect ratio of 2.35:1, complete with 16x9 enhancement, which is slightly narrower than the theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1, as director Peter Hyams states in his commentary. The picture was razor sharp from beginning to end, except for one sequence from 52:59 to 53:05 where the background suffers a moderate lack of detail, which may have been the result of the compression being set ever slightly too tightly for the needs of that image. The shadow detail is poor at worst, and distinctly average at best, but this is not actually the fault of any specific part of the transfer process. Instead, it is solely the fault of the director, who mentions in the commentary that he prefers dark scenes to look realistic. The lack of shadow detail inherent in the picture does not look realistic, it looks annoying. On the plus side, however, it reduces the stress that each individual night-time shot places on the MPEG compression, which translates into a better-looking picture in the brightly lit moments. There was no low-level noise in any part of the film, which is just as well when you consider the large amounts of black in the picture. I shudder to think of how noisy this film would look on VHS.

    The colour saturation is excellent, with a wide range of natural-looking tones that complement each other wonderfully. On some occasions, the skin tones had a little too much red in them, but this was only apparent in the darker scenes of the film, which leads me to believe that this was a deliberate effect. In any case, it makes the lack of detail in dark scenes more tolerable. MPEG artefacts were completely absent from the transfer, which is the previously mentioned benefit of the large amounts of black to be found in this transfer. Film-to-video artefacts were technically absent except for two small occurrences. Having said that much, the wobbling of the camera during some sequences is actually deliberate and annoying. If I took Peter Hyams and shook him about as roughly as I felt my head had been shaken after viewing this film, I'd probably wind up in court pleading insanity. There were almost no film artefacts, with the only noticeable one being a white ring at 29:35.

    This disc is presented in the RSDL format, with the layer change taking place between Chapters 19 and 20, during a fade-to-black that appears to be an actual part of the film rather than the artistic butchery that Roadshow Home Entertainment have a reputation for, at 83:32. The placing of the layer change is great, as the placement makes it very hard to notice unless you know exactly where it is.


    It is rather sad to have to report such problems with the video transfer and the plot, because the audio transfer was quite a delight to listen to from start to finish. The audio transfer is presented in a choice of three soundtracks: a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack with surround encoding, and an English Audio Commentary in Dolby Digital 2.0, also with surround-encoding. I listened to all three soundtracks, although the Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack was only listened to for comparison purposes. The film sounds a lot richer in Dolby Digital 5.1, with the sound being higher in volume and more prone to distortion in Dolby Digital 2.0, especially during the last quarter of the film. The dialogue was clear and easy to understand from start to finish, with Arnold Schwarzenegger certainly being much better than his usual self in this regard. The rough tone of his voice could be confused with distortion at 59:03, but this is definitely the thick accent at work rather than a transfer problem. There were no notable problems with audio sync at any point, although some of the dialogue that was rendered in Italian had a slightly unreal quality that suggested being spoken by someone other than the onscreen actors.

    The score music in this film is credited to John Debney, and while it is not especially wonderful, it does lend a sense of urgency to the onscreen action, which is especially important when the events of the film do not have much of a flow. The more reflective and mournful sequences of the film were accompanied by some rather haunting choral music that made a lot of use of what sounds like a ten-year-old boy chanting. The only negative aspect I can think of for this score music is that it starts to sound a little repetitious at times, especially towards the end of the film. All in all, it gets those sections in the brain that interpret the emotion of the film's scenes working a certain way, which helps the effect immeasurably.

    The surround channels get an awesome amount of aggressive use for ambience, music, and the plethora of special effects that accompany the action. The highly active surround presence completes the task of placing the viewer right in the middle of the action, with the constant use of directional effects creating an excellent soundtrack that reminds a man like myself why I have all this audio-visual equipment. The explosion sounds in the film seemed a little disappointing, however, with their dynamic range not being quite open enough, although I didn't really notice it that much to be quite honest. The subwoofer had a whale of a time supporting the film from start to finish, but there were only a few scenes when it actually went into action-film mode. This is not a bad thing, however, as the subwoofer was so seamlessly integrated into the soundtrack that it was hard to tell exactly when it was active and when it wasn't.


    There are just over seventy-two minutes worth of extras on this disc, plus the audio commentary track. The Dolby Digital Aurora trailer makes an appearance. All of the extras are 16x9 enhanced, and all of them have excellent audio and video but one.


    The menus are all 16x9 enhanced and themed around the film, with accompanying audio and animation, and a layout that is far more intuitive to navigate than is the usual standard for Roadshow Home Entertainment discs.

Cast & Crew Biographies

    Amazingly comprehensive biographies are provided for Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gabriel Byrne, Robin Tunney, Kevin Pollak, Rod Steiger, and director Peter Hyams. Sadly, the tradition of spelling mistakes in Roadshow Home Entertainment biographies continues, with Kevin Pollak being written as Kevin Pollack.

Audio Commentary - Peter Hyams (director)

    This is one of the better commentary tracks I have heard, with the short but numerous gaps in Peter Hyams' speech being compensated for by the soundtrack behind it being at a reasonable volume. The director talks about all of his artistic choices, such as why Robin Tunney takes her clothes off at one point, and all of the sequences that would not have been shot due to technical limitations as little as five years ago.

Featurette - Spotlight On Location (25:04)

    Basically, an extended promotional trailer for the film, with the interview footage presented in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and the film footage presented in the aspect ratio of 2.35:1, both with 16x9 enhancement. The sound is in Dolby Digital 2.0, with surround-encoding.

Featurette - Revelations: A Behind The Scenes Look At The Visual Effects (34:02)

    It seems that Roadshow Home Entertainment have also twigged to the need for chaptering of their featurettes, with this one including nine chapter stops. The audio and video portions of this featurette are presented in the same fashion as Spotlight On Location.

Theatrical Trailer - End Of Days (2:21)

    This theatrical trailer is presented at the aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with 16x9 enhancement and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. It makes the film appear a lot better than it actually is.

Theatrical Trailer - The Hurricane (2:21)

    This theatrical trailer is a sort of easter egg that can be accessed by highlighting the cross next to the heading of the special features menu (simply press up on your remote until it is highlighted). The picture quality is not that good, with grain and MPEG artefacts being apparent. The trailer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, with 16x9 enhancement and a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack.

Music Videos

    Everlast's So Long and Rob Zombie's Superbeast are presented under this menu. I think the less I say about them, the better, as I simply could not get up the self-torturous mood necessary to watch them.

R4 vs R1

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     There is nothing really compelling here that would lead me to prefer one disc over the other, although it would be nice to see an essay concerning Revelation, considering how obviously it is the work of a deranged maniac.


    End Of Days is another joke of a film like The Craft, presented on a great DVD.

    The video quality is excellent as far as reflecting the source material is concerned. It's a pity the source material is hampered by such directorial intent.

    The audio quality is reference material, pure and simple, with surround and subwoofer usage that just doesn't get any better.

    The extras are comprehensive.

Ratings (out of 5)

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© Dean McIntosh (my bio sucks... read it anyway)
June 11, 2000. 
Review Equipment
DVD Grundig GDV 100 D, using composite output; Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output
Display Panasonic TC-29R20 (68 cm), 4:3 mode, using composite input; Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm), 16:9 mode/4:3 mode, using composite and S-video inputs
Audio Decoder Built In (Amplifier)
Amplification Sony STR-DE835
Speakers Panasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Philips PH931SSS Rear Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer