What does a brain dead girl, a Harvard professor, a baby who’s the sole survivor of a ferry disaster, a satanist, and a nun from a splinter Catholic group have in common? They all point to signs that the End of Days is upon us. Read More for a review of Revelations.
Dr. Richard Massey, a Harvard astrophysicist, is returning after tracking down the satanist Isaiah Hayden who kidnapped and killed his daughter in a satanic ritual. He is contacted by Sister Josepha Montafiore, who works for the Eklind Foundation, a radical religious group that believes that all the signs for the End of Days, as foretold in the Book of Revelations, are in place. She has found a girl in a coma, who at times quotes scripture and draws images they don’t understand. But Dr. Massey does – one of the images is a distinctive picture of a donkey – which is daughter had drawn for him before. They then start investigating reports of a “miracle child” – who could be the Second Coming.
In the meantime, Hayden builds up a following both inside and outside prison – and there is something not quite natural about him.
NBC heavily promoted this miniseries through short little spots that only had the text “Omnium Finis Imminet” (essentially, “The End of the Everything is Near” or various other versions). Frankly, at first I though, from the font used and the background, it was a major marketing campaign for a Doom 3 expansion until I investigated more. And apparently it didn’t work well enough – ratings were apparently such that NBC did not pick up a sequel that would have taken the story further, even though early returns were good. Unfortunately the story ends unresolved, and no matter how bad something might actually be, if I invest time in it, I want resolution – and apparently NBC isn’t going to give it to me, or at least no plans have been announced.
Not to say this is bad – I thought it was an interesting story, if a little disjoint. Getting from part to part to the story didn’t seem to line up evenly. And I don’t understand why Sister Jo went to Dr. Massey in the first place – she apparently didn’t really know who he was. Also, I’m not a religious scholar, and I understand this was panned by those who said it didn’t actually follow scripture or anything like that, but when did that ever stop Hollywood from telling a story?
I was pretty confused by the whole pursuit of the “miracle child” – first it supposed to be Jesus, then Satan? Who was “setting them up” in the burned out church? What happened to the “beast” baby from the woman who was raped? I found this to be the hardest part to follow, with who was in whose custody, etc. With two children at home its pretty tough to sit through four and a half hours uninterrupted, but there were so many things to follow the overall story didn’t seem to flow well and got confusing.
Various pet peeves: The subplot of Hawk taking in with the Saitani and then turning back seemed too easy. What purpose did the renegade priest serve? He was mentioned by the Cardinal, and we see him for a couple minutes at the start of Part 6, and that was it. What purpose was there for Rubio to go to the convent? And why is it that whenever there is someone who has been studying these things for a long time, and amasses a wealth of knowledge that is otherwise lost, and it is discovered, they always trip some booby trap that destroys most of it? Why booby trap the only thing that can save the world?
Included in the DVD set are some deleted scenes, such as extended discussion with Dr. Massey about his book; discussions between Massey and Sister Josepha; more drawings from Olivia, etc.
Plot/Story: Not bad. I like stories based on pseudo-religious themes (for a really creepy version, try John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness). It seems that they tried to expand in a few directions that weren’t necessary. 3/5
Characters/Acting: Michael Massee was spot-on as Hayden – creepy but charismatic. Bill Pullman seems to play overexhausted characters well, but I didn’t see a lot of emotion – perhaps it was intentional, but I would expect more from the character. Natascha McElhone was OK as sister Josepha, but not spectacular. John-Rhys Davies has a minor part as a fellow astrophysicist – I would have liked to see him involved more as the “voice of scientific reason”. Tobin Bell has a creepiness just in his eyes and his understated voice. Has he ever yelled? Turn the volume up to hear him… 3/5
Effects/Visuals: Generally good DVD transfer (not surprising given the recent source material). Not a lot of special effects, and those there were didn’t seem right – like the explosion of the “star” at the climactic moment. Audio-wise, the final battle between Massey and Hayden had some obvious looping issues – at one point, after Hayden is slashed, he is obviously not speaking, but you hear his voice. 2/5
DVD Extras: Deleted scenes and an On-Set Featurette. Not a ton, but at least there is something. The featurette is well produced and not just someone’s home video, but its short – more like a Disney Channel promo featurette. 2/5
Overall: Not bad, but a little too jumpy, and seems to have expanded to fill more hours. 2/5
Final score: 2.4 out of 5. A solidified, simplified story line, a better conclusion, and a few other minor tweaks would improve it greatly.