Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Ghoul Versus The Prophecy 3: The Ascent

They're making a THIRD Prophecy movie, is that correct Gabriel?”
I can tell you in two words: UN. FORTUNATELY.”

A new prophecy came to pass, as it was a said a child would be born of angel and human that would united Heaven and Earth and end the Second Angel War, which is still going on despite Gabriel's death in the first movie. An angel named Danyael was chosen to knock up a nurse named Valerie Rosales so she could give birth to this child, which sure beats any job I've ever been chosen for.

The Devil kicked Gabriel out of hell because he was tired of being outcooled by him, the angel immediately getting to work to kill Valerie. Things didn't end very well for him, as he ended up getting transformed into a human by Michael, the angel leading the side against him. Valerie gave birth to a boy and they lived happily ever after.

Untilllllllllllllllllllll now. The Prophecy 3: The Ascent is another Direct To Video sequel, and they are really pushing their luck after pretty much striking gold with the first one. But they got Walken again, so how bad can it be right? Insert ominous tone here.  Hop in your car and look for a wall to run into as we begin A Ghoul Versus The Prophecy 3: The Ascent!

The movie begins with a mother and her son in a suburban home which gets BOMBARDED by Molotov cocktails. That's what happens when you don't tip your paperboy, folks. Elsewhere in the franchise's central location of Los Angeles, we see Gabriel awkwardly park a car in front of a makeshift church. It looks like he's adjusted to his life as a mortal, ditching his black hair helmet from the first two films for a magnificent mane of awesome. 

Inside the church, he watches a young preacher gives an energized sermon about how God hasn't kept his word and is a “deadbeat dad”. However this all comes to an end as Brad Dourif is in the crowd and pulls out a gun, shooting him thirteen times. Every shot hits, which is impressive when you consider Dourif's character is blind. He then pulls out a knife and starts heading towards the body, but loses it in the scramble of everyone running out of the building. The preacher of course falls in the Jesus pose, because now that we're in Direct To Video territory we can just pitch subtlety right out the window.

Dourif returns home to his apartment, where he hears voices in his head talking to him. To achieve this effect, they didn't use any kind of audio tricks but instead just put a microphone up to his ear and hit record. He tells the voices he killed the preacher but was unable to cut his heart out. I'm not really sure what happens next, an angel appears in his apartment (just like in the last film we only see its silhouette) and Dourif takes out his knife and starts running it along his fingers. End scene. An angel arrives in town, dressed for his audition for the next Megadeth video. Heaven really needs a new wardrobe department.

Joseph, our wisecracking coroner from the first two movies, is back for another round! He examines the preacher's dead body, finding out his name is Danyael Rosales, son of the deceased Valerie Rosales. Wait, THAT'S Danyael?! He's had quite the racectomy since we last saw him, at the end of the second movie he looked Asian just like his father. So that means the mother and child at the beginning of the movie was Not-Jennifer-Beals and DEFINITELY not Danyael Jr. Also means Valerie is the second straight hero of the previous movie to die right at the beginning.

Anyway, back to the review, Joseph realizes this is all linked to the previous two movies upon seeing these names.  A police officer questions Gabriel about the shooting is what is easily one of the best scenes in this film. I almost wonder if everything Walken answered wasn't ad libbed because it comes off so casual. Then again, he is that good of an actor so it's hard to say. While this goes on, the angel from earlier enters the police station looking for the morgue. We see he has a neat parlor trick of being able to make people see things that aren't there, as he fakes an FBI badge to get access.

The cop who was talking to Gabriel talks to Danyael's girlfriend next, who is waiting to ID his body. They haven't given her a name yet so I'm going to call her Poor Man's Kristen Bell. Her bare midriff sadly didn't get a co-starring credit in this movie.  As Walken leaves he runs into the angel, learning he's here for Danyael's heart. It appears the angel, Zophael, has replaced Gabriel in the rebellion. Gabriel says he likes it here on Earth now, having even learned how to drive. Zophael senses something in the morgue and leaves to deal with it, Poor Man's Kristen Bell deciding to follow him.

Dan, who isn't dead, has a vision of himself as a boy running from the mob that firebombed his house and being saved by Gabriel which leads into him getting shot by Brad Dourif which leads into him lying atop a massive pile of bodies with an ominous man in white standing on them. This causes him to wake up, kicking his way out of the morgue cooler.  As he exits the scene, Joseph takes a Polaroid picture of him. By the time Zophael arrives, he is long since gone. Joseph takes note of the sigil on Zophael's neck. The angel leaves to find his target, and Kristen takes his place in the room. She goes on to give us some of the WORST ACTNG I've ever seen in my life and yes, I'm counting XXX Parody Movies in that. She delivers every line like they've done her a huge personal injustice like canceling Party of Five or setting her pets on fire.

Joseph looks up the sigil in a book, learning about the angel. He is the “spy of God” and the bridge between the loyal and rebel factions of Heaven, his allegiance unclear. As is how Joseph was able to find a book with information about the Second War as this was a secret to mankind in the first movie. It also sets up our film's villain Pyriel, who is the Angel of Genocide.  This inspires him to launch into a LEARNING MONTAGE that also serves to catch up any newcomers to the franchise as to what the hell is going on. Kristen wanders back into his office to mangle the English language some more, still not believing Dan is alive even after Joseph shows her the Polaroid.

Dan's visions somehow lead him to Dourif's apartment, where he finds the shooter dead with his wrists slit open. He's holding a Braille Bible in his arms, Dan opening it to find every page has Pyriel's sigil on it written in blood. Suddenly DENZEL WASHINGTON bursts into the room with guns drawn, demanding Dan hand over the Bible and- oh. Wrong movie, nevermind.  Dan's Angel Sense starts tingling as he senses Zophael walking down the hallway. Zophael enters the apartment to find an open window, so he LICKS BRAD DOURIF'S FREAKING EYEBALL to see what happened earlier. This someone enables him to see Dan was in the apartment just now.

We catch up with Dan at a nearby donut shop, where he's pigging out on donuts. Captivating!  Joseph has taken Kristen to his house, giving her a history lesson of the Prophecy movies and reveals his theory Dan is half angel. Kristen asks him if he really believes all of this, prompting him to reply:

“I had four gutted hermaphrodites burned to black pitch right under my nose. I've had one cop, my best friend, driven insane by the angels shrieking in his head... before somehow spontaneously combusting in a madhouse he had mistaken for a monastery. A pretty young woman, now dead, knocked up by a stranger who left her three months pregnant in only 48 hours. And just yesterday, a young man, allegedly her son, shot up six ways to sundown, crawled out of a drawer and waltz out like Lazarus. So yeah, I'm pretty much open to a buffet of possibilities.”

Four hermaphrodites, eh? Okay there was Tommy Wiseau in the first movie and one of the angels that attacked Rafayel and Danyael Sr., those are the only two angels we ever saw in Joseph's custody that went up in flames. Now it's safe to assume the third body was the other angel who attacked Rafayel and Danyael and we just didn't see Gabriel burn him because it would have been redundant, that's fine. Rafayel is likely the fourth body since his dead body would have been found in the same area as the dead attackers, which Gabriel likely also burnt. This just really makes me believe Danyael Sr. had to be a hermaphrodite too if Rafayel was, and I really feel cheated we didn't get to see him discuss that with Valerie in the second movie.

Dan washes up in the donut shop's bathroom, noticing a sigil is beginning to form on his neck. Zophael enters the donut shop in what is easily the film's best non-Walken scene. He asks the clerk if he's seen Dan and the clerk answers it'll cost him $50 dollars to say. Zophael asks what kind of answer is that and the clerk replies “A minimum wage answer.” HA! Nice!  Zophael leans in close and delivers a horrifying threat, but the clerk doesn't even FLINCH. It's sad when the hero of our movie has just been completely out-badassed by a guy selling donuts. Zophael uses his illusion power to make the clerk believe a napkin is a fifty dollar bill, and the clerk tells him Dan is in the bathroom.

Sweet scene, although it completely makes no sense has Zophael has had no problems being able to sense Dan the entire movie and now that he's less than thirty feet away from him he suddenly can't? Ah, I'm not even going to complain about this. #TeamDountGuy!  However, DAN can sense Zophael and kicks down the bathroom door on top of him. They engage in what is a pretty damn awesome chase scene that I really got into. Wow, that's two great scenes in a row now, you go Prophecy 3!  Zophael catches up to him, pulling out his magic blade and getting ready to cut his heart out. However since this is a Prophecy movie and we haven't had anyone hit by a car into a wall yet, Gabriel arrives to remedy this oversight. He smashes Zophael into the back of a truck instead of a wall, but I'm still counting it.

Dan gets away, Gabriel and Zophael having a nice little talk before Zophael leaves.  Dan returns to his makeshift church where Kristen finds him. Their reunion is cut short as Dan senses Zophael nearby, telling her to get out of there. Oh yeah, her name is finally revealed as Maggie. 44 minutes in, that's not too bad for a co-star right?  Zophael attacks Dan again, as we see Zophael's blade can also sprout hook-like claws. Dan ends up pinning him to the wall with a pipe, asking him about the mark of Pyriel he got from Dourif's Bible. He learns Pyriel is “the next God”, which prompts him to go to the desert in his visions to seek him out. He jacks a motorcycle and starts heading to Arizona.

The angel forces Maggie to drive in pursuit, promising we won't hurt her. To put the final piece into play, we find Gabriel is also driving to Arizona in what is my favourite scene in the entire movie. He's jamming out to the radio and takes out his trumpet to play along. I'm pretty sure they made the entire movie just so they could make this one scene come to life.  Sadly, this is immediately followed up the movie's worst scene. Along the highway Maggie pulls over and tries to run away from Zophael, ending up shooting him with a gun she keeps in her truck. I'm pretty sure this was done in front of a green screen because it looks HORRID. It's also filmed at an extreme angle so everything is distractingly slanted.

After she shoots him, her reaction is so awful I can't believe it hasn't wound up on YouTube with a “Worst Acting EVAR!” label slapped on it. Zophael gets up and slaps the gun away from her, grabbing her arm and trying to talk sense into her that she's wasting her time. I think Maggie is supposed to be crying but it looks like she's having a silent seizure.  He lies to her, saying he just wants to find Dan and help him see the truth. He says Daniel is being deceived into stopping Pyriel, who is their saviour. I don't know why he couldn't have just done that in the first place and avoided all of this, because she readily believes him.

This scene is also interesting in that Zophael infers that the forces lying to Dan are the same ones who brainwashed humans into killing his mom and trying to kill him. This of course is a lie, as it was actually Zophael who did these things. But it makes me wonder why he chose a BLIND MAN to try to kill Dan? He couldn't have found someone just a tad more able? Zophael doesn't really have this whole “competent villain” thing quite down.  We get a little back story on Pyriel, that he led the army that defeated Lucifer and he's remained on Earth ever since. Why? Shrug.

Dan arrives at a Native American reservation where he sees angelic script painted on the rocks. Hey look, it's Mary from the first movie! She tells Dan she had a dream about him, handing him a small stone with Danyael Sr.'s sigil carved into it and then leaves to go yell at her agent for not making her the co-star of this picture. Thanks for the cameo Mary! There's some shrimp on the craft services table if you're hungry!  But because that wasn't enough to remind you of how much better the first movie was, Walken stops at the cafe from the first movie. The same waitress is still working there, and they recreate most of the conversation they had the first time. She asks where Walken's friend Rachel is, causing Walken to comment on how good her memory is considering that was over twenty years ago! This is justified in that you meet Walken once, you're going to hold onto that memory til your dying day.

Little fun fact that I didn't catch in the first movie, I mentioned how Rachel went on to play Wiress in the Hunger Games: Catching Fire. I missed that the waitress in this movie, Madge (played by Sandra Ellis Lafferty), would go on to play the unfortunately named Greasy Sae in the first two Hunger Games movies. Neat!  Oh the movie's still going on, isn't it? Maggie and Zophael catch up to Dan in the desert, Zophael wanting her to run Dan over. She won't, so Zophael grabs the steering wheel and causes her to wreck as well as stop her from “acting” anymore. Did I mention Zophael is my favourite character in the entire series right now? Dan stops when he sees this, as he saw Maggie was driving.

Dan breaks the tail pipe off his stolen bike, walking up to Zophael to end this once and for all. He beats down the angel, ripping his heart out. Gabriel arrives to find Dan cradling a dying Maggie, Dan asking the former angel to bring her back.  Gabriel tells him that he can't do that, instead saying Dan has to go finish what he started since Heaven will be terrible for Maggie to be sent to if Pyriel arises. Dan climbs a hill to find Pyriel's skeleton, while Gabriel stays behind to comfort Maggie.

Why is Pyriel a skeleton? Yeah, I don't know. We're almost done here folks, just hang on. So as Dan approaches the skeleton, Pyriel rises from the ground and WOW he's the male version of Maggie. He talks like a parody of someone's worst Voldemort impersonation.  So they engage in a completely stupid fight that amounts to Dan stabbing him through the chest with Zophael's magic blade while Pyriel tries to claw his eyes out. But then Dan turns the tide by giving Pyriel a GUILE SONIC BOOM KICK! Yes, you read the right. The epic Prophecy Trilogy comes down to a move stolen from Street Fighter.

Lighting then strikes Pyriel from the Heavens and Dan uses the claws on the magic blade to rip out the angel's heart. Hmm, our Big Bad kind of went out like a punk. I... expected more from the Angel of freaking Genocide. It's likely they couldn't afford fight choreography as the film's entire budget went into acting coaches for Maggie,  Dan takes the stone Mary gave him and drops it on Pyriel's skull, which shatters it. As walks away we see he now has the full sigil of his father on his neck.  Returning to Maggie, Dan finds Gabriel is now an angel again... somehow. This process has also gotten him his clothes back from the first two movies. We're almost out of time here, so Gabriel brings Maggie back to life and then vanishes in a burst of white doves. What the-?

The film ends with Dan happily cradling his Maggie as Gabriel narrates us out:

“In the end there's still the word, everywhere. In Heaven and its angels, the Earth and stars, even in the darkest part of the human soul. It was there where it burned brightest and for a moment I was blinded.”

Cue the credits.

So in a reverse of the previous movie, I had high hopes going into this one. It was co-written and directed by Patrick Lussier, who made one of my favourite guilty pleasure movies of all time: Dracula 2000. Not even lying, this is up there with Evil Dead II or Army of Darkness or in my book.  The Prophecy 3 and Dracula 2000 actually came out the same year, so maybe he focused all his energies and creativity into the vampire movie over the angel movie?  Or maybe the other co-writer of this thing, Carl V. Dupré , did most of the heavy lifting while Lussier was more into the direction?

This was mostly a complete dud all around, even the Walken scenes lacked the brilliance of his previous appearances. He still was BY FAR the best thing in this movie, that's not saying much.  He wasn't even in the movie that much, which is the saddest part of all. I would have much rather seen a movie about him learning to adapt, love, and ultimately save the human world instead of Bland Preacher: Biker Street Fighter or whatever the hell Dan was. Has their been a more underwhelming protagonist in a movie than Dan?

Dan was a wash as was everyone else in this movie. Maggie is my new go to for “Single Worst Performance in a Non-Blockbuster Movie”, Zophael was okay I suppose but also very bland and one note himself, Pyriel was in the film for like a minute so I don't even remember him... hell, the best non-Walken character in this story was Donut Guy! Fingers crossed he's the star of the fourth movie.

The story was barely existent, I swear half this movie was people driving along a highway.  The film isn't really clear what's going on at all.  Zophael wants to bring Pyriel back to life, who will kill all human life on Earth and this will somehow make him the next God?  This is disregarding the fact that Pyriel came back to life with no help whatsoever and it seems he could have done it at any time.  In order to make sure this happens, Zophael wants to kill Danyael first because he's the only one who can stop Pyriel.  He goes about this by making a blind human try to kill him instead of just doing it himself, which makes him look REALLY stupid as Dan "dying" is what seems to give him the powers to stop Pyriel in the first place!

For that matter, what is God's deal in this movie? His role is confusing enough in the first two, but here it's off the charts. It's pretty obvious He's the one who made the lightning bolt hit Pyriel, so why did He wait for this moment to get involved?  Dramatic effect?  Why didn't He just stop Pyriel from the start instead of risking Pyriel carrying out his nonsensical plan? And why didn't He give Gabriel his powers back earlier to help Dan? Bah!

But you know, I can still recommend this movie. Nowhere on the scale of the first two movies, but odds are if you saw the first two you're vested already and needs to see what happens next no matter the quality. Walken, the cameos from the first movie, and DONUT GUY are definitely enough to balance out the stupid story and Maggie taking a chainsaw to the art of acting.  Now onto the fourth movie, which was made five years after this one and is Walken-free.  This should be interesting... I give you The Prophecy: Uprising!