Monday, April 28, 2014

A Ghoul Versus The Prophecy II

"First, when there's nothing but a slow glowing dream
That your fear seems to hide deep inside your mind
All alone I have cried silent tears full of pride
In a world made of steel, made of stone
Well I hear the music, close my eyes, feel the rhythm
Wrap around, take a hold of my heart- WAIT NOT LIKE THAT!  AAAAAIIIIEEEEE!!!!!"

The Archangel Gabriel led a revolt against Heaven, enraged that mankind was getting his love over that of the angels. The war was a stalemate until the angels discovered a soul on Earth so dark and powerful that whoever possessed it would win the war.

An angel named Simon found the soul first, but badly botched the plan to collect it. He ended up breaking Megan's Law and passing it to a little girl, who had to rely on a police detective and a school teacher to protect her.  They performed about as well as you'd expect two humans to do facing an omnipotent angel, so the Devil himself had to get involved to save the day and kill Gabriel. Yes, in a religious movie the Devil turned out to be the hero.  So how did the movie makers find a way to make a sequel to a story that had concluded? Let's find out in part two of the Prophecy saga, with A Ghoul Versus The Prophecy II!

Everything begins as we get a montage of Biblical images as hands write in a journal. This is all narrated by Thomas, the star of Part One. He is still having the visions, showing him the war didn't end with Gabriel's death. The years haven't been kind to him, as he has become a monk and is slowly being driven crazy by the visions. He's so worn down he's completely changed appearance from the first movie!  In Los Angeles, Jennifer Beals drives to the hospital where she works as a nurse. Her mundane trip is interrupted by a guy who falls on top of her car from above. I wonder if her insurance covers that? Do you think Progressive offers a discount for your car getting hit by a fallen angel involved in a civil war for control of Heaven?

In a deserted part of town, the Devil (played by Not-Viggo-Mortensen) arrives and kicks Gabriel out of Hell, saying it isn't big enough for the two of them. He touches the ground and then vanishes to go do Not-Viggo-Mortensen things. The ground splits open and Gabriel claws his way out of Hell.  Jennifer goes to visit the guy she hit, learning his name is Danyael and noticing he has a very distinct brand on his neck.  Thomas prays as Gabriel appears in his room. He knows about the visions, asking where “she” is. Thomas won't answer so Gabriel incinerates him for his obstinance.

Jennifer brings Dan his clothes, having had them dry cleaned. He walks her home, the two having quite the chemistry that ends up with them having sex. I wonder if he's a hermaphrodite like Tommy Wiseau was in the first movie? Bet that was an awkward conversation when the pants came off!  Dan vanishes afterward to meet with a fellow angel named Rafayel, telling him it is done and Jennifer is pregnant. Rafayel is upset it took so long, Dan saying that Michael told him not to force her. They get attacked by two angels working for Gabriel, but manage to kill both of them by ripping their hearts out. A homeless woman witnesses Dan killing his attacker.

As this is going on, Gabriel enters the building where the two angels first met and finds the dry cleaning receipt Dan had in his coat pocket. He kills Rafayel but Dan manages to escape.  Gabriel goes to the dry cleaner, hilariously trying to get the identity of the owner of the ticket out of the clerk. When this fails, he breaks out the Sleep Touch but realizes he's screwed because he has no idea how to operate a computer.  Back at her house, Jennifer is now feeling very sick. Her grandmother thinks she is pregnant, and they get it a rather excessive shouting match over it. Joke's on her though, the hospital confirms she IS pregnant! Not just that, but she's in her second trimester which is quite the shock considering her and Dan only had sex a couple of days ago.

We join two young lovers about to commit suicide, played by the late Brittany Murphy and Danny Strong, best known as Jonathan from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Gabriel watches them as they drive into a brick wall at full speed, which seems about the most inefficient way to kill yourself I can think of.  Danny dies but Brittany is not quite dead, Gabriel using his powers to keep her alive because he needs her help.  The cops call Jennifer in to look at the dead body of one of the angels, able to trace his murder back to Dan because he left his medical ID bracelet at the scene of the crime as well as testimony of the homeless woman. Being a litter bug is REALLY starting to bite Dan in this ass, isn't it?

Joseph from the first movie comes into the room to talk to Jennifer, telling her about the angel's body they found four years ago and how everyone involved is now dead. He strongly advises her to GTFO as he leaves in a hurry, probably because he has dinner plans with Jerry Seinfeld in a few minutes and really wants that soup.  Jennifer gets a nosebleed at the end of this scene, but it's never brought up or mentioned again so... yeah. She goes to the monastery Joseph mentioned Thomas lived at before his death, talking to the Father there about him. He gives her Thomas's Journal Full of Crazy, and talks about a prophecy he saw in his visions that Heaven and Earth would be united by a child born of an angel and a human.  Jennifer pores over the journal, realizing the angelic script in it matches the mark Dan had on his neck.  Gabriel takes Brittany back to the dry cleaners to operate the computer for him and find Jennifer's address. She cracks a joke that makes me laugh way too hard because I'm old: “So you're keeping me alive because you don't know DOS?”.

I now hope this movie gets remade someday so this joke can be replaced with one harshing on Windows 8.  Jennifer arrives home, finding the door wide open. Because she's never seen a movie before in her life, she goes inside. She finds her grandmother dead with Gabriel perched next to her. Dan arrives and fights off the Archangel, allowing Jennifer to escape.  But instead of getting in her car and DRIVING AWAY at top speed, she chooses to run down the street. Gabriel and Brittany easily catch up to her in their car, chasing her down an alley and cornering her in a dead end. Brittany doesn't want to kill her but Gabriel says if she doesn't he'll never let her die. She buckles up and drives the car towards Jennifer at full speed. This franchise has a mad on for car crashing into walls, doesn't it?

Jennifer jumps onto a fence at the last second, the car smashing into the wall and sending Gabriel flying. Brittany literally advises Jennifer to GTFO, which she does, running into Dan who takes her to a nearby church.  She's naturally very upset at him as he tries to explain about the Prophecy and the child that has been given to her. She doesn't believe him, so he reveals his true form to her. We don't see what it is, only a winged silhouette, but it causes her to break down and sob. At this point I want to mention Jennifer's acting hasn't impressed me at all in this movie, but this was a very well done scene.

At the crash scene, a cop interviews Gabriel who brushed off his collision with the wall just fine. He uses his Sleep Touch to take the cop's gun and radio, which he is very impressed by. Walken is just amazing in this scene, his childlike wonder at technology is something you MUST see. He takes these items to Brittany, asking her how they work. She grabs the gun and tries to kill herself, but remains alive. Walken gives her another epic speech on why she needs to listen to him, the transition from comedy to terror truly outstanding.

Dan tells Jennifer the plan was for her to have the baby and raise it, the angels stealing it at some point. He decides he needs to get her to his leader Michael, who will protect her. She mentions Thomas's Journal Full of Crazy, which Dan goes to get to see if it has any information that can help them.  He tells her to stay in the church, as even Gabriel wouldn't care to kill her there. As he leaves he unknowingly trips a silent alarm, which sends out a call to all available police officers. Gabriel hears this on his stolen radio, logically concluding this is where he'd take Jennifer if he were Dan.

Gabriel and Brittany go to the church, Brittany waiting outside while Gabriel goes inside to find Jennifer. The cops pull up to the church as Gabriel exits, dragging Jennifer by the hair. The cops open fire on Gabriel, Dan arriving just in time to get Jennifer to safety but dropping the journal he just retrieved in the process.  Later the police interrogate Brittany about Gabriel. She tells them the truth but of course they don't believe her. Gabriel awakens in the morgue and Sleep Touches his way through the station, rescuing Brittany. He looks through the journal the police confiscated and realizes Dan is taking Jennifer to Eden.

Eden has become an old abandoned factory yard, angels perched everywhere. I can believe a lot of stuff, but they want me to believe Eden is in California? Jennifer walks up some stairs to meet Michael, which the camera reveals in a slow pan is played by Eric Roberts. You can tell he's in a hurry to get this over with, as he has probably thirty other movies he needs to go be in today.  Michael prattles on with a whole lot of nothing and then leaves to greet Gabriel, who has just arrived outside the gates of the factory. Michael asks Gabriel to give up or he'll face a punishment worse than any angel has ever had. Gabriel doesn't relent as Michael strangely lets him inside to get Jennifer and tells him none of his angels will try to stop him.  Dan disobeys Michael, telling Jennifer to run as he faces off against Gabriel. Brittany, armed with a blade, goes after Jennifer and gets the drop on her.

Gabriel easily kills Dan, tearing his heart out. He goes to find Jennifer, however gets jumped by Brittany. He throws her onto a spike, leaving her to die. What is VERY ODD about this scene is Brittany is now wearing Jennifer's coat. I'm thinking a scene got cut here or something, as I assume she let Jennifer go and took her coat in an attempt to trick Gabriel so she could stab him but I don't know...  Jennifer jumps out and starts beating Gabriel with a pipe, trying to stab him but he throws her off. She runs away with him in pursuit, the two ending up on a suspended platform high above the ground. She reveals to him she can suddenly hear God, Gabriel asking what He's saying. The answer is “jump” and she grabs Gabriel, jumping off the platform. They come crashing down on a fence, Gabriel's body breaking the fall for Jennifer. Gabriel also gets impaled on a spike for good measure, because by law bad guys always fall on something pointy.

Michael walks up to them, burning the sigil off Gabriel's neck and making him what he loathes the most: a human. Jennifer tells Michael that Dan was the only angel worth anything because he cared and that she will not let anyone take her child. Very powerful dialogue ruined by Jennifer's monotone line reading. She leaves Eden, stopping to take the journal off the hood of Gabriel's car parked outside.  Five years later, Jennifer sees her son off as he boards the school bus. We follow the bus as it passes Gabriel, now a homeless man playing his trumpet on the streets. He's confident everything will be made right and God will restore him back to angelic status. Dammit, Walken even makes being homeless look cool.

Cue the credits.

Like I mentioned before, this was a Direct to Video release and honestly it's one of the best ones I've ever seen. It was co-written and directed by Greg Spence, a man who has gone on to GREAT success producing shows for HBO such as Generation Kill and a little something called Game of Thrones. He did a fantastic job here taking what must have been a miniscule budget and turning out something that could have easily been in a theater.  This does suffer from some bouts of sequelitis, in which it rehashes a lot from the first movie (Gabriel is on a nonstop hunt to kill someone, he has comedy scenes with his sidekick, most of the movie is our heroes running away), but they add enough original material so it doesn't feel like it.

Walken hits another home run here, as he absolutely owns this movie. However Brittany Murphy is also EXCELLENT here, every scene with these two in it just kills. It really is a shame she could never find her foothold as an actor, she could be excellent when given the right material. Everyone else in the film is very forgettable, especially our leads who only have one speed: flat and monotone. I will say it was awesome to have an Asian actor in a starring role of a movie that didn't involve the usual stereotypes you see.

The story was MUCH more cohesive than the first one, pretty much every character's actions and motivations made sense this time. Hell, I think my only real issue was the continuity in a couple of scenes like Jennifer's nosebleed and Brittany wearing Jennifer's coat, but that's just extreme nitpicking on my part.  We're two for two now on this series, as I have really been enjoying these and wish I'd have watched it years ago. If you haven't yet, definitely check both of the movies out. Can we go for the trifecta with The Prophecy 3: The Ascent?