Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dude Movies: The Prophecy

What's it about?
Angels secretly fighting a war to usurp humanity from God's grace wind up in Dustytown, USA* to play whack-a-mole with an evil body-bouncing soul of ultimate blackness. This is accomplished mainly by standing around and looking creepy.

Any chicks in the movie?
The disturbingly doe-eyed Virginia Madsen in a rare non-nude appearance as a local school teacher. She's terrible, of course, like she is in everything she's ever been in, but a sad by-product of her not getting naked is realizing just how weird her face is. She has cheekbones that look like they were lumped together by Matisse after a three-day wormwood bender.

Awesomeness factor?
There are two reasons to watch this movie. One: you, like me, have a soft spot for the supernatural-thriller subgenre that involve wacky Catholicisms like renegade archangels, magically enthralled suicide victims and scenes of delicious childhood traumas. The Prophecy never goes fully off-the-rails a la The Omen III: Final Conflict** or God Told Me To***, instead comfortably slotting itself somewhere between Wings Of Desire (from which it shamelessly rips off the now awesomely-dated long-hair-and-trenchcoat look that was apparently de rigeur for angels in the 90s) and Garth Ennis' Preacher comic. Packed with theologically loopy ideas and a very wise understanding of its own budget limitations, it's good fun, especially as the flashes of mordant wit keep it from taking itself too seriously. But what pushes The Prophecy from slightly-above-average 90s b-movie into a slice of grade-A cheeseball entertainment is reason two: the cast. Eric Stolz as a good angel Simon is one thing, but casting Christopher Walken as the crazed archangel Gabriel, leader of the current angelic rebellion, is a masterstroke of awesome. Walken's clearly having a blast, too, chewing through dialog like "I'm an angel, I kill firstborns while their mamas watch" like he was tearing through a particularly juicy Porterhouse. Which makes it even more incredible that he's upstaged right near the end by Viggo Mortensen's spectacularly creeptastic Lucifer in one of the most scene-stealingest scene-steals in scene-stealing history. Viggo's only got like five minutes of screentime but goddamn if he isn't the best cinematic Devil, well, ever. Take that, Robert De Niro in Angel Heart.

Mitigated by?
The dawning realization that, as hilariously goofball as this movie's take on Christianity is, there are like one hundred million Americans who probably think it's a documentary.

* Main export: grit.

** A movie unafraid to use the Second Coming of Jesus Christ to get out of a sticky plot resolution.

*** Ibid.

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