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Universal Studios Home Video presents
Revelations (2005)

"I know. It sounds preposterous. But as a fellow scholar, I can tell you that all the signs and symbols set forth in the Bible are currently in place for the end of days."
- Sister Josepha Montefiore (Natasha McElhone)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: July 06, 2005

Stars: Bill Pullman, Natasha McElhone, Michael Massee
Other Stars: Mark Rendall, Chelsey Coyle, Brittany Coyle, John Rhys-Davies, Tobin Bell, Fionnula Flanagan, Fred Durst, Orla Brady
Director: David Semel, Lili Fini Zanuck

Manufacturer: Deluxe
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, human sacrifice, thematic material)
Run Time: 04h:15m:20s
Release Date: June 28, 2005
UPC: 025192851322
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- BBA C

DVD Review

Eschatology is big business once again, with the Left Behind series outselling anything not set at Hogwarts. NBC and Universal got into the act with this End of Days miniseries, written by the creator of The Omen. While it has some structural and logical weaknesses, it's nonetheless entertaining and frequently creepy Armageddon fun.

Richard Massey (Bill Pullman) is a Harvard astrophysicist whose daughter was abducted and murdered by a satanic cult led by Isaiah Haden (Michael Massee). Massey tracked Haden to Chile, bringing him back to face justice. Sister Josepha Montafiore (Natasha McElhone) is working with the Eklind Foundation to investigate miracles, not always with the Church's approval. Their paths intersect as a comatose girl, Olivia Beaudrey (Chelsey and Brittany Coyle), begins speaking in Latin and drawing maps to Dr. Massey. The odd couple soon find themselves on the path to nothing less than the Apocalypse, to be brought about by Haden and his followers as they make preparations for the birth of the Antichrist.

Originally aired in six one-hour episodes, the entire saga is here on two discs; sans commercials the whole thing runs only a little over four hours. The pacing is much improved without commercial breaks, and it flows nicely as a unit (though the original opening and end credits of each episode are intact). It does have the benefit of what appears to be a sizable budget, with globe-trotting locations in Italy, Prague and Jerusalem, amongst others. There's a fair amount of borrowing of elements, with several notable tropes from The Omen making a reappearance here. The puzzle aspect of The Da Vinci Code also rears its head here, as several cryptic clues must be decoded in order for Mulder and Scully—I mean, Massey and Sister Josepha, to make any progress in their quest. Most chilling is a sequence in which Haden, in prison, begins to create a group of followers who ultimately overrun the place. Counteracting its effectiveness are a string of pointless Hannibal Lecter-style visits to Haden by Massey; the scientist doesn't seem to have a game plan and just goes in, gets upset and abruptly leaves, over and over.

Pullman doesn't seem to have his heart in this; while there are several aspects to the character that demand intensity, he's either severely underplaying them or just going through his paces. McElhone comes off a bit better, as she is insistent but humorous about her religious faith. It's a difficult part, since Josepha is written like a walking Bartlett's, constantly spouting scripture (complete with citations) and other pithy sayings. One brief exchange gets close to nunsploitation territory as Massey makes a none-too-discreet inquiry about nunderwear, but any other relationship between them is left unspoken and unshown. What really drives the drama is the scenery-chewing demoniac performance of Massee. Like a cross between Aleister Crowley and Charles Manson, he has an intensity and viciousness that makes him a formidable antagonist indeed. John Rhys-Davies is decently reliable as one of Massey's colleagues in a largely thankless role (and a fair proportion of his character wound up in the deleted scenes). The great Fionnula Flanagan is mostly wasted as a mother superior in a convent; she does get one brief scene to shine when she must make a difficult decision about Olivia's safety.

Science and religion have clashed elsewhere, and as usual religion comes off the clear winner here; maybe one day popular fiction will give science a fair shake in such a contest, but I'm not holding my breath. There's plenty of urban legend fodder here, including the absurd notion there are actually enormous hordes of satanists ready to kidnap and sacrifice children. That's hardly responsible television, nor is the fanning of the Terry Schiavo flames as the doctors are insistent on harvesting Olivia's organs despite her speaking and writing. What it does do well is assemble a storyline that is compelling viewing; the finale is a 40-minute stretch of suspense that's nearly unbearable as the clock ticks down. There are some huge logical holes in the conclusion (such as why the satanists needed to kidnap Massey's stepson, played by Mark Rendall, at all since he ends up irrelevant to the proceedings). The ending is nonetheless unsatisfying, having apparently been reached in order to leave open the possibility to either a sequel or an ongoing series.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The miniseries is presented in 1.78:1 ratio, giving it a filmic feel. Incredibly, it's nonanamorphic, which seems ridiculous considering there surely is an HD master of this from the original broadcasts. That said, it still looks pretty good. There's some minor aliasing and in contrasty scenes some ringing is visible, but it's quite watchable. It just could have been much better.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: A 5.1 DD English track is the sole audio. There's a nice broad soundstage and Joseph Vitarelli's moody score sounds quite good. Dialogue is clear throughout. Hiss and noise are properly nonexistent for such a new program.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
8 Deleted Scenes
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: 2 disc slip case
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: various

Extras Review: The principal extra is a set of eight deleted scenes, totalling 14m:27s. These are mostly from the earlier episodes, and give among other items an alternate (and somewhat inferior) introduction between the protagonists. The others add quite a bit of texture and some additional symbology; most notable is the final image of a blasphemous Last Supper tableau that probably gave network executives cold feet. There's also a 3m:16s featurette on set, but it's a worthless fluff piece that can be disregarded.

Extras Grade: C

 

Final Comments

Plenty of end-of-days fun as science and religion clash and work together to race against the Antichrist. Some deleted scenes flesh out matters cut for running time.

 


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