The Omega Man

The Omega Man movie poster

 

Now that’s a good intro: Robert Neville (Charl­ton Hes­ton) cruises through an empty city with the top down. It’s eerie, but he seems happy, groov­ing to jazz from his onboard 8-track cas­sette deck. But sud­denly! Screech! Ka-pow! He brakes, pro­duces a machine gun and fires at a fleet­ing humanoid sil­hou­ette. A strik­ing mon­tage fol­lows of a des­o­lated, deserted city.

Hes­ton was once known as a lib­eral, and here his char­ac­ter enter­tains an inter­ra­cial romance (with afro-licious Ros­alind Cash) no more com­mon in movies now than it was in 1971. Unfor­tu­nately, it’s now impos­si­ble to take Hes­ton seri­ously, thanks to Phil Hartman’s clas­sic mock­ery on Sat­ur­day Night Live and to Heston’s own Alzheimer’s-fueled descent into right-wing senility.

Charlton Heston in The Omega ManAl Gore can take my gun from my cold, dead hands

Inter­est­ingly, Heston’s oeu­vre is dom­i­nated by dystopian sci-fi: Planet of the Apes, The Ωmega Man, and Soy­lent Green form a tril­ogy of apoc­a­lyp­tic despair. Remakes of Apes (by Tim Bur­ton) and Ωmega (Wil Smith’s I Am Leg­end) made him nearly obso­lete even before he died. Can Soy­lent Green (which is, inci­den­tally, much bet­ter than its rep­u­ta­tion sug­gests) be far behind?

Com­pared to the bes­tial vam­pires that pop­u­late I Am Leg­end, the crea­tures in The Ωmega Man are an intel­li­gent, religous cult. They don’t attack Neville with tech­nol­ogy (like, say, shoot him) sim­ply because they choose not to.

Charlton Heston in The Omega ManIs the last man on earth man enough?

As for enter­tain­ment in a time before VHS, the last man alive on earth is stuck with what­ever hap­pened to be in the the­aters at the time; he screens the con­cert film Wood­stock over and over. As for The Ωmega Man’s own music, the orches­tral jazz pop score is not just out­dated, but bizarrely inappropriate.

The cru­ci­fix­ion pose at the end is a bit much. I didn’t expect much sub­tlety, but that’s lay­ing it on a bit thick.


Buy the DVD from Ama­zon and kick back a few pen­nies to The Dork Report.

The 10 Most Disappointing Movies I Saw in 2007

As I was com­pil­ing the best and worst movies I saw in 2007, I found I still had enough for a spe­cial cat­e­gory: movies that absolutely don’t deserve to be called bad, even when it’s just me here talk­ing to myself on my stu­pid blog. But for one rea­son or another, here are the movies of 2007 from which I expected some­thing a bit more:


28 weeks later

28 WEEKS LATER
A dis­ap­point­ingly con­ven­tional follow-up to the truly scary original.


american gangster

AMERICAN GANGSTER
I was hop­ing for a bit more from Rid­ley Scott and the two fine actors, per­haps another crime epic on the level of Heat. But Amer­i­can Gang­ster is essen­tially a biopic, a genre in which good nar­ra­tive sto­ry­telling is often for­saken in favor of a string of illus­trated events from his­tory. Yes, it’s inter­est­ing that these peo­ple actu­ally lived and (more or less) did these things, but a story this does not make.


becoming jane

BECOMING JANE
I loved the recent film ver­sion of Pride & Prej­u­dice, and Becom­ing Jane sure sounded like a good idea: play fast & loose with the real Jane Austen’s biog­ra­phy to cre­ate a frothy romance in her own style. But the end result fell oddly flat, with lit­tle of the real woman’s spark. The direc­tion and per­for­mances were fine; I think the fault lay in the script.


charlie wilson's war

CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR
Prob­a­bly the finest-pedigreed film of the year, with Mike Nichols direct­ing, Aaron Sorkin writ­ing, and Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Philip Sey­more Hoff­man star­ring. So why doesn’t the movie take off?


I Am Legend movie poster

I AM LEGEND
The superb trailer all but had me wait­ing in line at the the­ater weeks before this movie came out. Per­haps unsur­pris­ingly, it couldn’t live up to the promise; it’s full of pre­pos­ter­ous implau­si­bil­i­ties and plot holes (and that’s if you even accept the basic premise). The best zom­bie movie I’ve seen is still 28 Days Later.


knocked up

KNOCKED UP
I was a big lover of Judd Apatow’s The 40-Year-Old Vir­gin, but I don’t think Knocked Up quite mea­sures up to its predecessor’s painful hilar­ity. Addi­tion­ally, I could just barely swal­low the premise that the two char­ac­ters might hook up in an alcohol-fueled bond­ing moment, but not at all that they might stay together.


the lives of others

THE LIVES OF OTHERS
A com­plex char­ac­ter study that would have made my personal-best list had it not undone itself in the end by hail­ing its com­pli­cated pro­tag­o­nist a “good man.”


a mighty heart

A MIGHTY HEART
Michael Win­ter­bot­tom is one of my favorite film­mak­ers of all time, and this movie held tremen­dous promise for me as it was done in a sim­i­lar faux-documentary style as Road to Guan­tanamo. But whereas I wanted to tell every­one I met that Road to Guan­tanamo is essen­tial view­ing for every cit­i­zen of the world, I just can’t say the same for A Mighty Heart.


stardust

STARDUST
All apolo­gies to Saint Neil Gaiman, for whom nearly all he touches turns to gold, but Star­dust just didn’t do any­thing for me. Gaiman’s and Roget Avery’s script for Beowulf was bril­liant, but this adap­ta­tion of his illus­trated novel by another screen­writer had no pixie dust.


zodiac

ZODIAC
I know Zodiac has been praised to the high heav­ens, for both its spe­cial effects (didn’t notice that it even had spe­cial effects? Exactly!) and for its sto­ry­telling, but I just didn’t feel it.


Com­ing up next: the 11 Best Movies I’m Most Embar­rassed I didn’t see in 2007!