Monday, October 13, 2014

Ten Statements About....THE PROPHECY III: THE ASCENT (1999)

Yep,'re born to be wild, alright...
“Last night, I dreamed the end of one history and the beginning of another. The darkness was met by the coming of a great warrior. I dreamed of you. You look smaller in person."

1) As cheap as The Prophecy II  looks in relationship to The Prophecy, this film looks cheaper still--in fact, it looks exactly like a microbudgeted direct-to-video sequel with almost no money for special effects or continuity (or, judging from the ‘What Does God Cares’ sign, to repaint a banner).

2) The fundamental flaw in this film is simply this: we don’t have any real point of view character to identify with.  Not only are the two leads only sketched in in the vaguest way (Steve Hynter’s Joseph gets more characterization than either David Buzzotta’s Danyael or Karyn Ann Buffer’s Magdelena), they don’t have nearly enough screen time for us to give a damn about these ciphers.

3) Boy, is Vincent Spano’s Zophael a boring ass villain.  At no point is he threatening or scary, and he simply doesn’t have the gravitas to convey the contempt for the ‘monkeys’ that Christopher Walken’s Gabriel had in the first two films.  He is never convincing as a threat, and the moment where he tries to swerve Magdalena does not work because he never comes off as sincere.  And the big bad he works for, Scott Clevedon’s Pyriel, is such a wuss Spano doesn’t even get the rub of being the lackey of someone cool.
"What do you mean I'm a boring bad guy?  Look at the size
of my rod!!!:

4) You know who does manage to actually fashion a character?  Brad Dourif.  Dourif’s unnamed character (he’s referred to simply as ‘Zealot’ in the credits) is little more than an extended cameo, but his one sorta monologue brings an incredible amount of nuance and energy that this film sorely needs.  Pity he’s given his pass outta here when less than ten minutes are up.

5) You know that this franchise is being forced to sustain itself beyond its sell-by date when they make the villain the hero...and with very little provocation.  Walken’s Gabriel is seen as Danyael’s Guardian Angel just because, and becomes redeemed in the end just because.  Admittedly, he has some of the better lines (and sells those lines with a skill Spano wishes he had), but his purpose in this film seems weirdly counterintuitive to how Gabriel has been portrayed up until this point.

6) I will give this film credit, though--for roughly ten minutes in the third act, director Patrick Lussier breathes a little life into this lifeless film.  It’s not surprising that most of this ten minutes involves tying in this mess with the first film and ends abruptly with the appearance of Pyriel.

7) I truly detest scripts that alternate between the worst cliches (“I’m not afraid of you.” “You should.”) and clumsy attempts at glib wit (“Genocide.  It happens now and again.”).  And this script by Joel Soisson and Carl Dupre seems to revel in its alternating between the two.
"Look at me!  I'm standing on top of a pile of bodies
while cosplaying Christ!  I must be bad ass!  Right?  Right?"

8) There’s a lot of choreographed fighting that I can’t help but think it’s just a punchy punchy run run....which draws more attention to how lightweight the plot of this film is.

9)  I can’t emphasize enough how dumb Pyriel is.  The big reveal of what he is is spoiled by an earlier scene of Joseph doing research, he’s given all this apocrypha without much explanation...and when he does appear, all he does is engage in a quippy conversation with Danyael and seemingly jumps onto the spear our ‘hero’ liberated from Zophael.  The guy does not justify being the ultimate horror that a trilogy of movies was built around.  Having Scott Clevendon portray him doesn’t help; when the thoroughly generic hero comes off as more vibrant than you, you’ve got a problem.

10) If you ask me, Karyn Ann Buffer was not cast for any acting skills--she doesn’t need any, as Magdelena is barely a stereotype or a cliche--but because quite frankly she has a spectacular ass that looks great in the jeans.

Overall...while there are glimmers of life in this cheapjack sequel, it’s overall a very aggravating slog even at less than ninety minutes.  At least it tries to wrap up the story neatly....

What do you mean I got two more sequels to get through?

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