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  Prophecy, The Heaven Help Us
Year: 1995
Director: Gregory Widen
Stars: Christopher Walken, Elias Koteas, Virginia Madsen, Eric Stoltz, Viggo Mortensen, Amanda Plummer, Moriah 'Shining Dove' Snyder, Adam Goldberg, Steve Hytner, J.C. Quinn, Emma Shenah, Albert Nelson, Shawn Nelson, Emily Conforto, Nick Gomez
Genre: Horror, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: There was a war in Heaven many aeons ago which saw the archangel Lucifer banished to his own domain, but now, unknown to the world of mankind, a second war has erupted and a select few human beings are about to be dragged into it. One such individual is Thomas Dagget (Elias Koteas); he trained as a priest but just as he was about to be ordained, he had a terrifying vision of a damned angel and collapsed, unable to go through with the ceremony. Now he is a cop, and his latest case will find his religious background essential to solving it...

If Gregory Widen, who wrote and directed this, will be known down the ages for anything it will be for his penning of the script for Highlander, but in its way The Prophecy spawned a franchise too, only that didn't get released to cinemas: it was straight to video for the sequels to this. Indeed, though it captured some audience's imaginations there were vast swathes who would never have known there was a Prophecy franchise, or wonder how much mileage there was in a killer mutant bear movie (wrong Prophecy), but for fans this first one was the best of the lot, taking the mythology of angels and applying it to an apocalyptic fantasy.

There are points where this comes across as Widen showing off his knowledge of Christian theology, but just as much was conjured up from his own creative juices, though in that sober telling of a tale featuring angels and archangels this grew perilously close to taking itself so seriously that it became rather boring. That in spite of it beginning with a big fight between two of God's messengers where one of them is defenestrated and run over with a pick up truck, which should have been an arresting beginning, but combined with all those shots of pages of arcane text served to make what could have been agreeably wacky too po-faced, as if this was the forgotten chapter of The Book of Revelation.

Which funnily enough is mentioned in the film, as the deceased angel was carrying that on him, and what do you know? Thomas can translate it, thereby working out that the trouble up above has bled into the realm of the humans. This leads him to be the focus of attention as he realises the angels are seeking a very specific soul, which Eric Stoltz's Simon has stored in the body of a little girl, Mary (Moriah 'Shining Dove' Snyder) by way of a big slobbery kiss on the mouth, which nobody really wanted to see. This was verging on tedium such was its gravity in what may have been inspired by a holy book was not actually sacred in itself, not that Widen seemed to acknowledge that.

Ah, but then he introduced his trump card, the vital element which made this well worth a look: step forward Mr Christopher Walken as the Archangel Gabriel, in possibly his most Walkenesque performance of the nineties. He lifted every scene he was in as he hunts down that soul, getting up to such naughtiness (for a divine being) as reanimating suicides (one played by Amanda Plummer) to act as his flunkies, or at least drive him about, asking people to stop crying because it really bugs him, acting like a creepy children's entertainer with teacher Virginia Madsen's class of schoolkids, and perching like a bird as the angels do in this movie. Widen wrote his most amusing dialogue for him as well, apparently inspired by the presence of such an offbeat character actor, though when Lucifer showed up he was essayed by Viggo Mortensen who made a late play for stealing the movie, not enough to unseat the Walkeny goodness. It was a heavy-footed work overall, but every so often it would remind you why you were giving it a chance. Music by David C. Williams.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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