The Prophecy II (1998)
|Year Of Production||1998|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Greg Spence|
Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Dennis Michael Tenney
David C. Williams
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||No|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Released direct to video, The Prophecy II is a fall from grace after the moderate success of the first outing.
Written and directed by Gregory Widen, the ex-fire fighter who penned Highlander and Backdraft, The Prophecy (1995) was a flawed but entertaining horror film about the conflict between jealous angels bent on destroying mankind, and those loyal to God and his Earthly creations. Because of budgetary limitations, this civil war occurs in the back-streets of Los Angeles (the city of angels) among a handful of participants. What the film lacked in scope was ameliorated by an inventive and witty script, another bravura turn by Christopher Walken, and gruesome special effects.
This sequel begins with a bang when an angel called Danyael (Russell Wong) smashes himself like a bug against the windscreen of a car driven by nurse Valerie Rosales (Jennifer Beals). Valerie is easily seduced by the enigmatic Danyael, who grants her membership to an exclusive Mile-High Club on their first date. Now, the offspring of angels and human women are called the nephilim. According to ancient Google Scripture, these cranky giants wreaked so much havoc on Earth that God had to drown the whole sodding lot of them in the Flood. The conception of this new nephilim had been predicted by ex-cop Thomas Daggett (Bruce Abbott in a wig), now back working as a priest, prophet, and part-time interior decorator. Also returning is the archangel Gabriel (Christopher Walken), who is evicted from Hell by Lucifer in a cool sequence that tops the arrival of any Terminator cyborg. (One can only assume that such impossible events no longer make prime-time news or even get noticed in LA.) With the life of Valerie and her unborn nephilim child under threat, the scene is set for the ultimate showdown between angels, humans/monkeys, and the invidious wrath of Christopher Walken...
Except that the whole circus runs out of steam long beforehand. Clocking in at 80 minutes, you get the impression that great wads of the screenplay were ripped out to save money, perhaps to be recycled later as wallpaper in mad Thomas' bedroom. The premise is also puzzling. If the nephilim were such troublesome brutes the first time around, why are the good angels trying to breed more of them? Surely Gabriel could use their talents more, but instead he stalks through the movie ripping out hearts, torching bodies, and hacking into computer systems with the help of undead teen-Goth Izzy (Brittany Murphy) in his quest to abort the mission. None of the tension from the first film survives here; there is no sense that the stakes are high, that the bloody little skirmishes and scrawled prophecies are a prelude to annihilation with a capital 'A'. One low-budget film that attempted a similar mood of Biblical foreboding and succeeded brilliantly was The Rapture, starring Mimi Rogers.
Lumbered with a script that wisely gives all the best lines to Christopher Walken, the rest of the cast do what they can with the left-overs. Flashdancer Jennifer Beals gives another one-note, uninspiring performance as Valerie, whose name means 'strong' or 'brave'. In the absence of Adam Goldberg, Amanda Plummer, Viggo Mortensen, Eric Stoltz and Elias Koteas, we're still treated to a respectable genre line-up that includes Brittany Murphy (Cherry Falls, Freeway), Russell Wong (China Girl, Romeo Must Die), Eric Roberts (Runaway Train, Star 80), Tom Towels (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer), Bruce Abbott (Re-Animator), singer Glenn Danzig, and various other bit players. Joseph the coroner (Steve Hytner aka Kenny in Seinfeld) has a gloomy cameo, while Sam Raimi's son Michael may be the kid who shows up in the epilogue. How appropriate.
Helmed by Greg Spense, the man who once directed Naomi Watts in a horror film that nobody saw (Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering ), and co-written by the wordsmith behind Halloween H2O and Reign of Fire, The Prophecy II probably had its wings clipped long before those involved could plunder the first film's ideas. Despite the presence of Christopher Walken, its inevitable failure is no revelation. True to form, while numerous cracking good horror novels languish in second-hand bookstores, the studio bosses insist on delivering The Prophecy IV and V to a DVD emporium near you.
Shot once more by Richard Clabaugh, who also orchestrated the photography of No Way Back and Children of the Corn 666, the change from 2.35:1 to 1.85:1 compositions reflects the down-shift in gears that most nascent franchises suffer. The framing looks fine, with no scalpings on the top edge or minor characters jostled off the peripheries.
While the image could use an extra stropping to improve its sharpness in some scenes, no one will complain about the amount of overall detail, the black level settings, or the shadow detail: all are acceptable. A softer image is preferable to vertical/horizontal edge enhancement. Leave any boosting, however ill-advised, to the consumer's discretion.
Colour saturation is as sugary as the first film, with sepia tones and splashes of gaudy hues livening up the palette. There are no problems with colour bleed, colour balance, or unnatural skin tones – the funereal pallor of Gabriel is entirely deliberate.
Major film artefacts are limited to one scratch at 53:52, while Gabriel squeezes ominous chords out of the pipe organ to frighten Jennifer Beals. It's visible for a few seconds and will be missed by most viewers. A small white mark appears at 11:49, among others. Any compression issues went unnoticed.
The accurate English subtitles are of the Hearing Impaired variety.
The dialogue from the centre speaker is fine. There are no audio sync problems, harsh sibilants or distorted screaming. Furthermore, none of the line readings are lost in the mix. One or two whispered phrases may be hard to pick up at low volumes.
David Williams puts in another showing to pump out the music score, although Dennis Michael Tenney has a credit in IMDB for 'background instrumental'. Without comparing the two soundtracks (I only own the first film on laserdisc) one has to assume that new compositions were written for this sequel. What music there is comes across with the required majesty and drama, albeit from the front sound stage.
Audio fidelity is serviceable, with the dynamic range reaching a few high spots, good separation, and crisp Foley work, but there is nothing here to make you sit up and take notice. There is an audible hiss in the church scene at chapter nine.
Crows taking flight and portentous peals of thunder represent two rare examples of surround channel engagement. Directional effects in stereo are plentiful, as revealed by headphone listening. The subwoofer is never silent for long, proving that there is some bottom-end here to work with, redirected or otherwise.
This is a generic horror movie soundtrack. Its 1997 vintage ensures a satisfying baseline of audio fidelity, even if the 5.1 remix does little to exploit the format. With extra time and motivation to produce a more fulsome soundscape from the ashes of its Dolby Pro-Logic track, The Prophecy II on DVD in discrete 5.1 could have made amends for deficiencies in other areas. Well, maybe a teeny bit.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The video and audio elements serve the visuals and soundtrack adequately. Unless bonus supplements are included in a future special edition, I consider this DVD to be definitive.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-737, using Component output|
|Display||Loewe Ergo (81cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Marantz AV9000 Pre-amp.|
|Amplification||Arcam AV50 5 x 50W amplifier|
|Speakers||Front: ALR/Jordan Entry 5M, Centre: ALR/Jordan 4M, Rear: ALR/Jordan Entry 2M, Subwoofer: B&W ASW-1000 (active)|