The Omega Man

The Omega Man

**

Reviewed by: Stephen Carty

Not everyone loved Will Smith’s I Am Legend, and many agree that it was let down by choosing to realise the infected with CG-bloody-I. The solution for this group? So, why not pop in the second cinematic adaptation of Richard Matheson’s seminal novel (the first being ‘61s Vincent Price-starring The Last Man On Earth) as it was made before digital trickery became an easy way out and starred everyone’s favourite apocalyptic sci-fi stud, Charlton Heston?

He plays Robert Neville, a military scientist and soul survivor of a plague that wiped out most of the human race two years previously. He lives alone in Los Angeles - however, with the remaining small population having mutated into light-sensitive creatures dedicated to killing him, he spends his days foraging for supplies and looking for their ‘nest’. Struggling to maintain his sanity, Robert suddenly finds out there might be others.

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Disappointingly, though Boris Sagal’s version of Matheson's tale uses the infinitely-preferable ‘actors with make-up’ trick to render his mutants, it doesn’t make for a superior movie. In fact, while hailed as a ‘cult classic’ and chock-full of potential, The Omega Man is ruined by cheesy elements and a misjudged tone that steal away the potential for a spooky and spine-tingling genre flick.

The all-in-one tracksuits, Rosalind Cash’s ginormous afro, Chuck’s quite-outrageous cravat… these could be forgiven if we had foes who didn’t come across as camp cultists in Scream costumes. Saying that, the chief offender is undoubtedly the score. Playing like a mixture of softcore porn and a rejected disco soundtrack, the weird musical accompaniment frequently drags potentially-creepy scenes into slapstick territory. The last man on earth being attacked with fire by the diseased? Better kick up the funk then.

It’s such a shame, too, as it starts off so well; Neville driving through beautifully-realised and impossibly-empty streets until you’re lured into a lull… then he suddenly blasts away at a shadowy figure behind a window. Of course, Heston is commanding as always, strutting around shirtless and selling the growing insanity (despite some clunky monologues) – but he can only do so much. Some will hate the religious allegories, but there’s no denying the bleak ending with its smack-you-in-the-face obvious Christ imagery.

A great premise and some good ideas can’t overcome constant mistakes with the tone and what is surely the most ill-chosen score of all time.

Reviewed on: 09 Feb 2010
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The Omega Man packshot
The sole survivor of a plague that has eradicated the human race discovers that he may not be alone.
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Director: Boris Sagal

Writer: John William Corrington, Joyce Hooper Corrington, based on the book by Richard Matheson

Starring: Charlton Heston, Anthony Zerbe, Rosalind Cash, Paul Koslo, Eric Laneuville, Lincoln Kilpatrick, Jill Giraldi, Anna Aries, Brian Tochi, DeVeren Bookwalter, John Dierkes, Monika Henreid, Linda Redfearn, Forrest Wood

Year: 1971

Runtime: 98 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US

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