Review contains MINOR SPOILERS.
The original “Omen” is definately the lesser of the “big studio devil movie” trilogy, even in the shadow of it’s classier (“Rosemary’s Baby”) and more visceral (“The Exorcist”) fellows. But it’s still a fine little movie, the kind of solid workmanlike effort one expects from a Richard Donner film. The new remake is slavishly faithful to the original, which at least shows a noble effort to keep things small and clever, but which creates a problem when an original film is so well remembered: This remake yields no surprises to call it’s own, no real scares of it’s own invention. It’s a copy, but with less arresting performances and direction.
Pity poor Liev Schieber, a gifted leading actor here stuck once more with the task of toplining a remake that no one will ever confuse with it’s classic, much as he was in the dreadful retelling of “The Manchurian Candidate.” St. Schrieber: Patron Saint of Wholly-Unnecessary Remakes. Schrieber picks up from Gregory Peck as Robert Thorn, a plucky fellow who’s apparently wise enough to become a U.S. Ambassador but not quite quick enough to realize that “sure, why not?” is the WRONG response when you’re wife miscarries and a creepy Italian priest calls you into the hospital basement and offers you a freshly-orphaned replacement.
The kid’s name is Damien, and unless you’ve not visited the planet Earth in any of the years since the original “Omen” came out that tells you the rest of the story. Seems Armageddon is on the way, according to a preposterously-silly opening scene depicting a Vatican power-point presentation that name-drops Hurricane Katrina and 9/11 as signs of the end times… and the Thorn’s excessively-moody tyke is The Antichrist.
The hook, as in the original, is that the saucer-eyed hellspawn will use his adoptive dad’s political contacts as a shortcut to global power-play, and as before this eventually seems like too much work: Seems Old Scratch has the situation pretty well in hand, able to send everything from psycho dogs to visions to lightning storms to Mia Farrow as a creep-tastic Governess to the aid of his boy… with all that at Hell’s disposal, isn’t riding the coattails of a mid-level dignitary kind of a long way between A and B?
The film is at it’s best recreating the “big” money-scenes of the original, though naturally they suffer a bit removed from the gutsy grit of the mid-70s. At it’s worst, it’s trying to hard to make up for worn material with cheap tricks: A series of nightmare sequences involving Julia Stiles as the rapidly-unraveling Mrs. Thorn are laughable attempts to ape “The Shining,” and topical references like the aforementioned 9/11 hat-tip and scenes of a dying Pope are dead on arrival. In the end, it’s not awful… it’s just not really much of anything.
FINAL RATING: 4/10
P.S. Now that 6/6/06 is done with forever, can we PLEASE stop fussing over the damn number? Seriously, if I only ever impart ONE piece of real knowledge on this blog, let this be it: 666 isn’t a date. Or a birthmark. Or 1999 inverted. Or Hillary Clinton’s GPA solved for X. It’s a name. In the language the Book of Revelations was written in, all letters had corresponding numbers, so “his number was 666” just means that that will be the sum of the Antichrist’s “name” when all the letters are added up. Really, that’s it. Don’t tell me I never taught you anything.
Review contains MINOR SPOILERS.