The Prophecy 3: The Ascent is a surprisingly strong entry in the Prophecy franchise and would have worked as a solid farewell to the story of the Archangel Gabriel, if the franchise had ended here. It’s definitely not aimed at converting new fans, as the story directly continues from the events seen in The Prophecy II. Strangely missing from this multipack, in that sequel Gabriel had been stripped of his angelic status and is now a lowly human like the rest of us. That is where The Prophecy 3: The Ascent picks the story up from. The strong continuity and references from the first two films make them required viewing before watching The Prophecy 3.
Christopher Walken is back as Gabriel, though his role is diminished from the first two movies and he’s really a sideshow to the main event. God is still absent from the universe as the remaining angels in Heaven are continuing the war amongst themselves. This time the story takes something from Old Testament lore, the Nephalim. They are the bastard offspring of human women mating with angels, seen as abominations by God. The crux of the plot revolves around Danyael, a street preacher that just so happens to be half-human and half-angel. The angels want him dead, as he has the power to stop their supposed messiah, Pyriel, from taking over heaven.
To stop Danyael, the angels send Zophael (Vincent Spano) to stake his heart. Zophael does his best Terminator impression, chasing down Danyael in a riff on Gabriel’s role from the first movie. Gabriel here actually interferes and aids Danyael, as he has grown to see the value of humans. There actually might be too many story points, as the film moves at a breakneck pace in its short running time of 83 minutes. Characters are not given the proper time to develop, as the relentless action necessitates terse dialog and a choppy flow to the narrative.
The one weakness of the script is the underdevelopment of the Big Bad, Pyriel. You get glimpses of him as Danyael suffers apocalyptic visions for the entire movie, but the final battle feels terribly anti-climatic. Aside from a few lines of dialog, Pyriel does not come off as a serious threat and his visual look is ridiculous.
Prophecy fans will eat this sequel up, even though the conclusion is a bit predictable.
Echo Bridge must have dug up a true HD master for this entry in the franchise, as opposed to the woeful master used for The Prophecy on the multipack and other iterations. The 1999 movie is framed at 1.85:1 and presented at 1080i. The 1080i resolution strongly indicates the transfer used to create this BD was from an HD master, originally intended for cable or broadcast distribution. Running 83 minutes in length, the film is encoded in AVC at very low bitrates for HD material, rarely exceeding 12 Mbps.
The picture quality is inconsistent and varies over the course of the movie. Much of the last act takes place in the day at a desert location, and that is where the picture quality looks the best by far. A fair level of detail and clarity reveal an image, while not perfect by any means, as being very acceptable for a cheap horror sequel. That clarity is nowhere to be found in the opening third of the film, as black levels get crushed and the mediocre compression produces severe artifacts. Banding and chroma noise are particularly bad, as backgrounds swim with the digital blocks that are the hallmarks of insufficient encoding parameters.
Print damage is kept to a minimum but expect a regular dosage of minor debris and specks to the picture. One scene contains a thick gate scratch running down the entire frame. The transfer, made with no real care, shows no obvious signs of unnecessary processing like filtering. Close-ups reveal a moderate level of texture and sharpness, though the FX shots are very soft and flat. The ruddy flesh-tones are a little out of place, especially with the drastic changes in contrast and overall tonality from scene to scene.
It’s not as good as it could be, but this disc provides enough of a visual upgrade over any prior DVD to be worthwhile from a fan’s perspective. As long as one can tolerate the horrible instances of early artifacting, The Prophecy 3 does just enough to provide an HD experience.
Note: Solely reviewed here is the version off the The Prophecy Collection multipack by Echo Bridge, a collection of four films from the Prophecy franchise.
The sole audio option is a 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack. This multipack version supposedly contains the corrected soundtrack of this movie, as opposed to the individual BD of this movie that had several audio problems, such as swapped channels. The mix is engaging and effectively uses all channels, heightening the action on the screen. For a low-budget sequel, its low-end presence adds serious thump to select scenes. The classic Pop music in the soundtrack is nicely reproduced and sounds quite good.
Sound effects frequently pop up in the surround channels and there is effective panning across the entire room, creating an energetic presence as angels battle it out. Where it starts showing its low-budget roots is the repetitive nature of the sound mix, as certain cues are used again and again. A solid effort for a cheapie sequel, but not something one would use as a showcase or demo.
There are no extra features of any kind on this multipack of four movies.
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