Were my lowered expectations required for this one? Well, there's good news and bad news. The good news is that it wasn't as bad as I had feared. At the very least, it didn't make me mad while watching it. Most of the time. The bad news is that the only reason it wasn't as bad as I feared was because I was expecting something along the lines of "The Touch of Satan," only without Mike Nelson making it hilarious. So anything would have been a step up from that.
That may be a little harsh, to be perfectly honest. It's not that "The Prophecy 3" was a train-wreck, it's just that the train made an uneventful trip across the country without any major delays or problems. It arrived at it's destination on time, and nearly every passenger slept for the majority of the journey. And when they're asked by relatives waiting at the station "How was your trip?" they will say "It was fine. They had good sandwiches at the food bar." That's the level of enthusiasm I have with this thing. It's right up there with the inane small talk you're forced to make in polite company you can't swear in front of. True, the train didn't go off the rails, but at least that would have been more interesting.
Shockingly, no. Not even this bit of randomness makes for an entertaining film.
If you couldn't tell by that tenuous analogy, the problem with this film is that it was not very memorable. It's only notable for how bland it was, and the fact that I can use the word "bland" to describe a movie starring Christopher Walken is probably the biggest offense of all. And to my surprise, one of the biggest reasons for it being bland is a direct consequence of the ending of "The Prophecy II," which I was a fan of. But I'll get back to that in a bit. For now just remember that Christopher Walken is no longer a powerful angel.
The third film picks up about 18 years after the end of the second one. At the end of that film, Gabriel was turned into a human by either God or Eric Roberts (it was hard to tell), as punishment for his hubris and betrayal. In the time since then, he's learned how to drive, learned to kind of like humanity, and has learned how to grow hair like that witch in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves." So he's just chilling, enjoying being a human. He has also been (kind of) looking after Danyael (Dave Buzzotta), the human/angel child from the end of the second movie. His mother Valerie, the main character from the that film, has died in the time between after a seemingly random mob burned down their house, leaving her dead and him unscathed since he's impossible to kill unless you remove his heart, being half angel.
Now we find that the forces of heaven are still at war, and they once again need an ace in the hole to turn the conflict. Enter the fray Zophael (Vincent Spano), an angel who's loyalty is obviously to the side of "Kill All Humans," but whose motivations I never really got apart from "He's the bad guy." From what I gather he's attempting to resurrect Pyriel, the Angel of Genocide, who will arise to eradicate mankind. Pyriel was the angel who lead God's army against Lucifer in the first war. How Pyriel died, how he has risen, who if anyone is responsible for that, why he is now on the side of the rebel angels, why they never tried this before if he's so powerful, and why apparently only Danyael can stop him is left completely unexplained, at least for as much as I understood the plot here.
Just a couple simple questions, here, buddy. Who are you? What are you doing? How did you get here? And why is this the first I've heard of you?
So what it all boils down to is that Danyael goes to the desert to stop Pyriel, while Zophael kidnaps Danyael's girlfriend Maggie, lies to her that Pyriel's resurrection is a good thing, and gets her to give him a ride to try and stop Danyael from stopping Pyriel. So much like the other two films, "The Prophecy 3" is a chase movie featuring an angel being chauffeured around in a car out to the middle of nowhere by someone who hates their guts. Says something for consistency, I guess.
And while it was kind of a neat thing that angels in this series can't drive cars since it's just not their thing, a pretty big question I had since the first film has to be addressed at some point here: Why don't the angels fly? They have wings. I don't know where the angels hide them under their black trench coats, but I've seen them. Wouldn't flying be much faster than driving? Why is Zophael even running after Danyael when they're on foot? Danyael doesn't have wings. Zophael does. If you want to stop him, just fly and catch up to him. Whatever. Stupid nitpick, I know, but it's still irritating to me.
In the background doing essentially nothing throughout all this is Gabriel, who just drives around in his convertible. And then he stops by that diner from the first film and orders a big breakfast. At least I understood that bit, although there's probably a deleted scene somewhere with a prophecy about whether he was going to order the buttermilk or blueberry pancakes.
"And lo! it was foretold that he of Doc Brown hair and saggy face would feast upon the Grand Slam and a pot of half-caf." GEN 15:27
And finally, we reach the end of the movie. Danyael confronts Pyriel in a showdown that had the potential to be cool and visually interesting. But unfortunately it winds up seeming more like a fighting game tutorial teaching you how to do your finishing move for as one sided as it is and for as long as it lasts, while looking like the background glitched out and was just solid black. And then, because that wasn't unsatisfying enough, Danyael is literally saved by a bolt of lighting out of the sky, sent directly by God to help Danyael defeat Pyriel.
Well, if God always had the capacity to do that, then why in the name of holy crackers didn't he do that from the get-go? And you can't tell me that old "His ways are mysterious" story because that makes no sense. They say at the end of the movie that Pyriel's defeat signals the end of the war. If striking Pyriel down was always an option, why go through the whole rigamarole of thousands of years of horrible conflict and countless deaths and destruction? What an ass!
And you can't tell me that humanity had to be the ones to do it because Danyael is not fully human, and even if he was, they didn't because at the end God strikes down Pyriel anyway. I'm not even going to get too into the issue of no human soul reaching heaven before that point because of this conflict. But I'm just saying that when you consider that, according to the mythology, God went through all that trouble to send Jesus down to absolve humanity of its sins, only to have another easily fixable situation arise to throw a wrench into the whole plan, it kind of makes God look either lazy, incompetent, or like a big jerk. But that's just me.
It makes him seem less like a divine creator and more like a crappy roommate who never does anything. He never takes out the trash, never cleans the dishes, never buy groceries, never walks the dog, and always leaves his excess weed trimmings all over the living room table. And then one day he takes down a phone message for you in overly exacting detail and expects that to make up for the time he left a bowl of mac n' cheese in the sink for two weeks until it crusted over and attracted ants.
"Dude, come on. I left a post-it note on the fridge. You're welcome, by the way. Hey, could you give me a ride to and from work tomorrow? They got me working the night shift. I need to be there at 3 AM. Thanks, bro. You can pick me up at 10."
That's always been my biggest issue with this series. The story makes absolutely no sense, and I seldom follow the plot while watching it. It's only afterwards when I hop on Wikipedia and read the synopsis that I say to myself "Is THAT what was going on here? Dang, religion makes stuff dumb and confusing." I say that without trying to be offensive to anyone, but you can't argue that the insane amount of contradictions, self-fulfilling prophecies and nonsense explained with the catch-all "God is mysterious" excuse does not make for a very cohesive narrative. This is doubly so when one does something stupid like apply logic to something that is by its very nature illogical.
At this point I'd like to return, finally, to what I was saying earlier about what I felt was the biggest issue with "The Prophecy 3," which was what they did with Christopher Walken's character. The worst offense this movie did was to take Gabriel's powers away and make him a good guy. It's not until you've seen a movie in this series without the madcap antics of crazy, evil Walken that you realize how important that is to the entertainment value of these films. Let's be honest, these were never fantastic movies, but the character of Gabriel was such a memorable badass that he made the first films worth watching by himself alone.
Now what do we have? Gabriel has been relegated to being a side character who doesn't do anything because he can't do anything. He can't even offer assistance in a fight apart from running into someone with his car, which he does, but after that he immediately gets his ass handed to him by Zophael, who doesn't kill him for the sole reason that he's so pathetic that it's not worth either his time or energy. And Gabriel just sits there and smiles like he's managed to accomplish something by becoming meeker than Zophael when he used to be the Angel of Death.
Oh yeah. Serene and contemplative. That's how I like my Christopher Walken. I also like to garnish my pizza with a single saltine cracker.
It's not that Gabriel's redemption is a bad character arc, because it's not. It's just not something I'm interested in seeing in this film. Or at least they way it was done here. Had I been in charge of the script I would have kept Gabriel human, but he'd still be attempting to eradicate humanity by resurrecting Pyriel. Had he been the villain instead of Zophael the plot could have been nearly the same, and his redemption could have been slowly building throughout until the end, when he could fully realize the error of his ways. That way his character development could have actually been seen during the film as opposed to off screen between movies.
Honestly there wasn't a good thing I can say about anyone else in the cast, either. Christopher Walken is wasted, Dave Buzzotta is a poor man's Edward Furlong, and Vincent Spano does his best to come off like Gael Garcia Bernal, but again it's just not working that well. Although Spano isn't honestly that bad, especially when he is forced to act next to the worst actor in the film, Kayren Butler as Danyael's girlfriend. She reminded me a bit of Shannon from "Lost," only with less talent than even Maggie Grace and the bizarre ability to seemingly teleport in and out of scenes at random due to the power of bad script writing and confusing editing.
And by the way, any movie that casts Brad Dourif as a crazy person and kills him off after 5 minutes and about 3 lines can officially kiss my ass. I don't care if there's a scene later where a dude licks his corpse's eyeball. If Brad can't react to it, I'm not interested.
Danyael is the only 32 year old 18 year old in the world.
Oh, and Moriah 'Shining Dove' Snyder is back as Mary. She's a bit more grown up now. She still isn't a good actress, but she's only in it for 25 seconds. She has a little speech that barely has any context to anything we've been seeing, doesn't do a damn thing, and basically wastes our time. But hey, this thing is only like 80 minutes long already. I guess something had to pad it out. I'm sure she wasn't doing anything else as these movies have been pretty much the only thing she's ever been in.
And who in the blue hell ascended in this movie subtitled "The Ascent?" It wasn't Danyael, because he's still on Earth. It wasn't Pyriel because his ascent was stopped cold. Was it Gabriel? I guess that makes sense, but that seems an odd choice because he's not even the main character, or even that important to the story. And his ascent and forgiveness is only the last 20 seconds of the movie. Seems an odd thing to subtitle your movie after. That'd be like calling it "Star Wars Episode IV: Luke Gets a Medal."
Of course the real answer is that it's a cool word that sounds ominous but means jack-diddly. I think that's a requirement for naming sequels in Hollywood. I still don't know why they couldn't just leave it at "The Prophecy 3." Or why they used the number 3 instead of Roman numerals considering the last movie did. Or why this is the last film in the series to be numbered at all. I guess it's really easy to tell which comes next chronologically - "The Prophecy: Uprising" or "The Prophecy: Forsaken." Come on, isn't it clearly obvious which one comes next? What are you, dense?
Does nobody put forth the slightest bit of effort with this stuff? And why am I constantly surprised by the fact that they don't?
Want to see something funny? Watch that chick attempt to act in the trailer. And then despair. She's in the whole movie.
THE BOTTOM LINE - "The Prophecy 3: The Ascent" is clearly a big step down from the sequel, which in itself was just okay. Despite some interesting imagery it never manages to become more than the same stuff we've seen before, only without the benefit of having a good cast or giving Walken fun things to do, and it's just a boring movie. Considering that the plot is nonsense anyway, I don't even know if I'd recommend watching it to finish the story, because hell if I know what just happened.