Author: de Semlyen, Nick
Date published: April 1, 2010
The worst film Ian Nathans seen since Omen IV...
RELEASED March S
DIRECTOR Scott Stewart
CAST Paul Bettany, Kevin Durand, Dennis żiuaid, Tyrese Gibson
RUNNING TIME 100 mins.
PLOT Fed up with man's "bullshit", God triggers a global apocalypse. As cities JaIi, the Lut hope for humanity lies with a group of disparate folk in theMojave Desert - and with a renegade angel namedMichael (Paul Bettany).
NOW AND AGAIN, A VISUAL effects wizard morphs into a great director, the prime example being David Fincher. But more often than not, skills with a mouse don't translate to the megaphone, resulting in ugly trainwrecks like Stefen Fangmeier's Eragon, Stan Winston's Pumpkinhead and now this debut by Scott Stewart, a veteran of ILM. The teaser poster, with Paul Bettany as an angel with an Uzi, was irresistibly daft. The trailer, boasting a demon granny and swarms of killer cherubs, promised a silly blast. But the film itself is a crushing disappointment- unambitious, po-faced, leadenly paced and deadly dull.
God has declared war on Earth, sending His holy army to smite all humanity. But aside from a prologue, the action is limited to a US diner, populated by characters that are barely 1-D. As the surly owner, Dennis Ouaid continues his quest to be the worst thing in bad films. Tyrese Gibson is (yawn) a rap-loving badass with a handgun and a baby mama. And Lucas Black and Adrianne Palicki make an utterly unappealing lead duo (the latter is basically an even less appealing, chubbier Carmen Electra) as the guardians of a baby who will be the world's saviour (though, confusingly, a radio broadcast in the third act implies there are plenty of other survivors beyond the diner). It's difficult to care about any of them, especially when the dialogue is so painfully flat and the story beats so derivative of the first two Terminators (not to mention Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight).
More grievously, the high-concept set-up is squandered. Bettany remains in human form 99 per cent of the time, while that shot in the trailer of a whole battalion of heavenly creatures turns out to be from a flashback. Aside from an end battle between Bettany's Michael and Kevin Durand's Gabriel (in which, to be fair, the latter does deploy a celestial mace with chainsaw attachment), there's precious little angel-on-angel action. Instead, God has chosen to deploy lots of slow, shuffling zombies who make for easy cannon fodder. Well, He does move in mysterious ways...
Nick de Semlyen
VERDICT Could have been T2 with seraphs, or Assault On Precinct 13 crossed with Revelations. Instead, it's a lazy genre bore. Doesn't bode well for Priest, the next Stewart/ Bettany film in the pipeline.