The Prophecy II (1998)

Arch Angel Gabriel returns to try to destroy the future hope for the human race he despises so much, with the help of a suicidal teen girl and the opposition of the angel Danyael. 

REVIEW: There's just something about religious thrillers that I love. I'm not particularly a very religious person, but I love all that mythology that we hear about while growing up, and its for that reason that, a few issues aside, I really loved the first Prophecy movie (Or God's Army, depending on where you live in the world). That first one was theatrical and all following entries (and there are quite a nice handful of them) were Direct-to-Video, so that probably means they can't stack up to it, right?

Well you could kind of say that I suppose, but then you would be wrong. In The Prophecy II (sometimes found with the subtitle Ashtown and sometimes not), Lucifer spits disgraced Arch Angel Gabriel (as played to perfection by Christopher Walken returning to the role, not scared by the lower budget) out of Hell for reasons that are never really touched upon other than “Not even Hell will have you.”, and the fallen angel resumes his War on Heaven, where he left off in the previous movie. This time, he's after a woman pregnant with a Nephilim, which is a baby born of both human and Angel, as it has been foretold in a new Prophecy made by Elias Koteas' character from the first movie (but played by a different actor here, and back being a monk again) that a Nephilim will end the Second War in Heaven and return peace to the Universe. However, the woman is being aided by the Warrior Angel Danyael, who was the one that actually impregnated her.

Initially I never liked this Terminator-wannabe of an entry nearly as much as I did the first movie, but over the years and upon several re-watches it really grew on me to the point where I actually now enjoy it a bit more, but just by a sliver.

With the first movie I couldn't really argue with anyone that felt it was very slow-moving and boring, however The Prophecy 2 is a much more action-packed and fast-paced entry, as this one is essentially just one long movie-length chase scene. As mentioned, this is the 'Terminator' entry in the series, what with Gabriel chasing a mild-mannered woman through the city during the night in order to kill her before she gives birth to mankind's savior, and the entire movie is pretty much 'run, hide, get found by the methodical bad guy, run, hide, get found by the methodical bad guy, and just keep repeating'. I know that doesn't sound very interesting, and the repetitiveness of it was one of the reasons that I didn't like it very much my first time watching it, but over time and during the course of several re-watches, I grew to appreciate the faster pace of the 'cat-and-mouse' plot because, as repetitive as it gets, there's at least always something exciting happening and the movie never gets dull, making it easier to digest for the average person than the slower-paced first movie probably is.

It also helps, at least for me, that despite the faster pace it still manages to expand upon the excellent world-building mythology that I loved so much in the first movie and couldn't say enough good things about in my review for that one. The strongest point of the entire Prophecy movie series, to me, is the excellent world-building background mythology that keeps getting fed to us in each movie. So much so in fact, that I'm still picking up on missed morsels of it in dialog here and there each movie, even after umpteen rewatches, that just keeps adding to the experience for me and gives me something new each time I watch them. Even after five movies, I feel the potential of this series has only just begun to be tapped and this is a movie universe I would love to keep getting more sequels for, so I can spend more time exploring it.

The characters that populate this movie also keep it interesting and, if anything, I think I actually like more than the characters in the first movie. Once again everyone acts their part perfectly, but this time Christopher Walken, while just as badass as ever, is matched in terms of acting by some of the other actors, who mostly all turn in better performances than you would expect to find in a Direct-to-Video sequel. Jennifer Beals plays the main female lead and while she was pretty bland and forgettable at the start of the movie, once the action really starts getting going and she gets into the thick of the Terminator-esque plot, that's when she really starts to shine, with my favorite moments of her being when she goes head to head against Christopher Walken's Gabriel himself, as those two played off of one another so well. Also, a young Brittney Murphy did an excellent and very enjoyable job for one of her first starring roles, taking on the role of Gabriel's undead slave that he brings back to life after she tries to commit suicide with her boyfriend, as he still yet can't comprehend human technology, nor how to drive a vehicle and needs her assistance, culminating in some pretty hilarious moments. Even Eric Roberts pops up in the second half of the movie as the fellow-famed Arch Angel, Michael – you know, the one that ultimately beat back Lucifer and sent him down to Hell during the first War? Now he's in charge of looking after the supposed-safe haven of the infamous 'Garden' of Eden, which has since gotten a modern-day industrial makeover, and he plays the role in such a way that you're not quite sure if he can be trusted or not, and it leads to one of my favorite and more suspenseful sequences in the entire movie.

This entry is also much darker then the first movie was, both in tone as well as the filming style. Where that one took place primarily during day scenes, this one takes place entirely over the course of one night, and even though in the end when the good guys win, we as viewers (in addition to the characters themselves) are still left with a sense of foreboding doom to come, and ends things off on a bit of a bleak cliffhanger that won't be resolved until the third movie (and final movie for this specific story arc, as The Prophecy 4 and 5 deal with entirely all-new characters and an entirely all-new story). I also still really love the portrayal of the Angels in these movies. For those familiar with the hit TV show Supernatural, they are almost identical to that of how they are portrayed in that show, which is one of the reasons I love them on Supernatural (especially in Season 4 when they were first introduced, it was essentially a season-long crossover between Supernatural and The Prophecy, however now in Season 9 I'm feeling they're dragging the bottom of that well a bit, but I suppose all of that is for a different type of review).

My only big complaint is that with the runtime so short and the movie so fast-paced, it zoomed by and was over before I really had time to process most of what I had just watched, which means it definitely requires multiple viewings to pick everything up, especially where that excellent world-building dialogue is concerned. An extra 10-15 minutes would have been nice to break up the frequency, in addition to the repetitiveness, of the chase scenes and perhaps that time could have been used to give the human characters a tad bit more solid characterization; While the Angels and the whole concept of the various wars in Heaven were all given more-than-satisfactory backstories and characterizations, the human characters were left in the dust a little bit and felt a tad underdeveloped.

While The Prophecy II still has a few faults of it's own, despite my initial gut reaction the very first time I watched it, I actually now feel it's an even stronger and more enjoyable movie than the first Prophecy flick, if only slightly, which is saying quite a bit considering that one went to Theaters and this one was Direct-to-Video. A faster pace, better characters, further world-building, and yet another excellent portrayal of the main villain by Christopher Walken all make this a very worthy sequel in the Prophecy series.

After tying up a couple loose ends from the first movie that promises to make the next entry different from anything that's come in these first two installments, and ending things off on a sort of cliffhanger-style note of forebodingness to come, I really can't see how anyone that enjoyed these first two movies wouldn't be excited to see how the conclusion to this first story arc will play out in The Prophecy 3: The Ascent.

8/10 rooms in the Psych Ward


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