Monday, June 12, 2006

THE OMEN (2006)

Written by Hombre Divertido

It is usually enjoyable to sit with a friend and reminisce. Though it is fun to recall pleasant memories, remembering them is never as fun as when you were living them. The same can be said for watching The Omen (2006). Though it is fun to watch, it is not as pleasant as when we first experienced it.

Remakes are always a gamble, and after the disaster that is Poseidon, the outlook was not positive, but launching a film about the Antichrist on June 6th, 2006 was a marketing opportunity too good to pass up.

Though it fails in comparison to the original1976 hit, which had a sneak preview on June 6th 1976, this remake, which stars Liev Schreiber, Julia Stiles, Mia Farrow, David Thewlis, and is directed by John Moore, is worth your movie-going dollar and 110 minutes of your life. Especially if you like those jarring “Boo” moments in scary movies. For it is several of these moments that have been added to the story, and have the audience hanging from the ceiling far more than the original, that allow this film to succeed.

Other than those new shocking moments, and some inconsistent setup points at the start of the film that are more likely to get the audience talking to each other than watching the film, the remake generally stays true to the original story.

Where it is lacking is in the performances and sheer continuity. Unfortunately, you will find yourself recalling the original and it’s superiority when you should be watching the current version. You will also find yourself looking for what is missing which in this case is the depth: depth of story and the depth of the performances so crucial to the original.

Though Liv Schrieber and Julia Stiles are adequate, they are one dimensional as the new parents of Damien (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick). No one deserves to be compared to Gregory Peck and Lee Remick, but you cannot escape the fact that their performances drew the audience in far more than the current cast. A more unfavorable comparison is that of David Warner, playing a tabloid photographer in the original, and David Thewlis in the same role in the new film. Warner's characterization in the original captured the intense motivation that drew our attention far superiorly when compared to that of Thewlis. In defense of Mr. Thewlis, the script did not help his cause, as the relationship between our intrepid photographer, and the worried father was not established nearly as well this time out.

Though the portrayal of the antichrist Damien by Seamus Davey-Patrick worked well, which I’m sure made his parents quite proud, due to the script and the fact that the role is based primarily on the young actors ability to look evil, he was not able to capture the mood generated by Harvey Stephens 30 years ago.

One performance that is fun to watch is that of Mia Farrow once again dealing with a demonic child. This time as Damian’s nanny Mrs. Blaylock, she is over-the-top creepy. Though a different interpretation than that of Billie Whitelaw in the original, the slant Farrow takes is an enjoyable aspect of this new production. There are other enjoyable aspects as well. The music is certainly as haunting and as intense as the original, as is the over all look of the film.

Recommendation: Remakes are rarely as good as the original, and though this one fails in comparison, it stands fairly well on it’s own. If you have not seen the original, you will likely enjoy this film. If you have seen the original, and like being scared by moments that make you jump, you may enjoy this film. Either way, rent the original after you see the new one, for a truly enjoyable one-two punch.