It’s the end of the world… again. David Seltzer, who wrote the screenplay for “The Omen”, “Prophecy”, and “Dragonfly”, teams up with some doozies. You’ve got Lili Zanuck, who produced that hit “Reign of Fire”, and Gavin Polone who produced “Stir of Echoes,” “Panic Room,” “Secret Window, all teaming up with Bill Pullman to make one big messy lump of nonsensical religious fun called “Revelations”. “Revelations” was a six-hour miniseries aired on NBC in May 2005. Now coming to DVD with some glorified extras, all six hours of Christian adventure can be yours to treasure. Imagine hunting the antichrist through darkened streets in Israel, going over lost treasures in Prague, and pouring over computer content in a University in Boston, all to stop The Satanists from destroying everything God built. Only God won’t help you, because he is inexplicably otherwise occupied at the moment, but I am sure you’ll figure it out.
Natascha McElhone (you know her as the chick from “Solaris” with George Clooney)
plays Sister Jospehina Montefiore. This reckless, maverick nun believes that the end of the world is near, she archaically refers to it as End of Days. A cross between Mia Sara and Kelly LeBrock, McElhone speaks in that strange not-quite-British-not-quite-Australian Audrey Hepburn way that sounds not only pretentious but also highly irritating after a while. (And by a while, I mean 6 hours). Bill Pullman brings his good acting, slick delivery, and believability to lines like “I have to go find the Satanists so I can stop the birth of the antichrist”. Sister Jospehina is on the brink of excommunication because of her radical beliefs, while Dr. Massey (Pullman) is a non-believer Astrophysics professor who relies on cold, hard facts instead of scripture. (Think Mulder/Scully formula) Michael Massee plays Isaiah Haden, a cult leader/Satanist who in the past murdered Dr. Massey’s daughter Lucy in a ritualistic and brutal manner as a sacrifice to his God. Now Isaiah is in prison, leading on followers and preaching the word of Satan to prisoners and sinners, hoping to amass an army that will destroy the world. Oh yeah, and the antichrist is going to be born soon, and so will Jesus, only no one knows when, where, or how to stop it. The plot spins circles around fact, spirituality, exorcism, and extremely confusing plotlines so that the viewer is mesmerized into watching all six grueling hours.
With elements of films like “The Omen”, “The Seventh Sign”, and “The Exorcist”, “Revelations” has some pretty frightening religious imagery and makes Catholicism seem like a cryptic underworld or fanatics and secret societies rather than the everyday practice it is. On the other hand, “Revelations” is so far out there in terms of the plot (it’s so confusing and when broken down, makes little sense and has no logical progression behind events) that bad apocalypse movies like “The Stand” and zany adventure stories like “National Treasure” have much too much in common with what should be a tale of horror, religious zealotry, and the end of the world. I will credit “Revelations” with one novel idea in this day and age; there are absolutely, positively, no plot twists. When every film out there seems to need an explosive gimmick or bend in the script to give it that extra punch, revelations opts rather for boring, noncommittal anticlimax instead.
While the first 4 hours seem like a truly intriguing television series, from which I could not tear my eyes, the last two hours seem jumbled together out of bits and pieces of cutting room floor rejects. Important threads of the story fall into oblivion, never to be picked up again. Important characters disappear, and riddles are solved using sheer luck and impossibly ridiculous logic. It is intriguing, though. The ending is hopelessly dissatisfying, but you’ll be glued to the edge of your seat until that last horrific moment when you realize that all six hours accomplished was just to keep you from your own boring life for a while. That’s the purpose of television, however, and in that sense, “Revelations” is more than successful.
Don’t go into revelations thinking it’ll be a film-like experience. It won’t. It’s definitely got that TV show feeling to it, and if you think of it as a very short-lived series, you’ll think it’s one of the nest things you’ve seen in the genre, on television, all year.
The DVD extras shame true DVD extras by calling themselves that. A few deleted scenes (deleted because they were so boring) and a two minute on-set interview featurette do not provide enough incentive to run out and get this as a collector’s item. However, if you missed this on TV, and you believe in God, or if that religious stuff scares the crap out of you, revelations is a must-have for your End-of-the-world collection.