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Thursday, June 21, 2012

DOOMSDAY PROPHECY -- DVD review by porfle

One of the livelier SyFy Original movies I've seen, DOOMSDAY PROPHECY (2011) is a step or two above their usual fare--which means that it's not all that great but it isn't a total loss, either.

The typical end-of-the-world armageddon-type stuff ensues when the galaxy's equator aligns with our solar system's equator, which, as we all know, not only causes massive sinkholes that swallow whole cities and oceans but also creates a galactic black mass that heads straight for Earth swallowing up everything in its path. 

Meanwhile, publishing house employee Eric Fox (AJ Buckley, "CSI:NY", "Supernatural") and  archeologist Brooke Calvin (Jewel Strait, "Stargate: Atlantis") have been mysteriously summoned to meet with a reclusive author named Rupert Crane (Matthew Walker) who claims to know when the world will end and how to stop it.  They find him dead in his forest cabin in the Northwest, along with a strange black rod that causes whoever touches it to have visions of the future. 

A videotaped message informs Eric and Brooke what to do with the rod (no wisecracks, please) in order to save the Earth, but a group of secret government agents show up intent on stopping them.  With the ruthless agent Henning (Rick Ravanello, MONTE WALSH) hot on their heels, Eric and Brooke must find the location of some buried stone heads identical to the ones on Easter Island and somehow activate a dormant planetary defense system. 

If all of this sounds pretty goofy, well, this sort of movie is supposed to be goofy.  What's more important is that, for SyFy standards, it's pretty entertaining.  Buckley and Strait make for a couple of appealing leads, especially since (a) they're not the stereotypical hero types, and (b) they don't fall cutely in love with each other during their ordeal.  

Bruce Ramsay lends solid support as Garcia, the good agent who just wants to do what's right, while Ravanello is sufficiently unhinged as the agent who just loves getting orders that include the phrase "dead or alive."  Alan Dale is your typical stiff-assed military guy, General Slate, whose private agenda seems to be getting in the way of saving the world, while Gordon Tootoosis plays one of those wise old Native Americans who's always having vision quests and stuff.

In typical SyFy style, much of the apocalyptic destruction is merely described instead of shown--such as Italy sinking into the Mediterranean Sea, for example, and most of China being replaced by a giant pothole--while the fate of the world hinges upon a group of people running around in the woods for most of the movie. 

But to their credit, director and co-writer (with Shawn Linden) Jason Bourque and his SPFX crew show as much of the good stuff as their modest budget and not-so-hot CGI will allow.  So we get to see downtown New York City crumbling to rubble, volcanoes spewing deadly ash over vast areas, and massive fissures opening up while our heroes try to outrace them in their land rovers.  This, coupled with some car chases, shootouts, fistfights, and other assorted action scenes, manages to keep the film moving at a decent clip until the fairly suspenseful finale (which owes more than a little to THE FIFTH ELEMENT).

The DVD from Anchor Bay is in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound and subtitles in English and Spanish.  The bonus feature is a 22-minute making-of featurette entitled "Doomsday Prophecy: The Stories Are True."

Those not accustomed to the pros and cons of your standard SyFy Original movie--that is, viewers expecting something really good--will most likely be less than receptive to DOOMSDAY PROPHECY's modest charms.  But fans of this kind of low-budget, high-concept stuff should have little trouble getting into it as it tries its darndest to entertain us.

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