Saturday, March 16, 2013

Taliesin Meets: The Omen (2006)

Remakes… I am torn over the concept generally as there are good and bad examples. I may be alone but I prefer the US remake Let Me In over the original (and still damn fine) Let the Right One In. For every remake that is worthwhile (Dawn of the Dead is brilliant both as the original and the remake, for very different reasons, for instance) there is a rubbish one – I’ve been trying to expel the memory of the Haunting remake since I saw it and the least said about the Wicker Man the better.

There are also remakes that are fairly pointless and I have to say that this John Moore directed remake of the Omen is just that. Why? Because there is nothing about it that improves over the original and the original still stands the test of time.

There is a modernisation – clearly it was set in contemporary times. We get involvement of the Vatican that was conspicuously missing from the first film. In this case the Vatican discuss the impending birth of the antichrist – known because they are aware of the prophecies and have spotted a comet in the night skies – but actually do bugger all to prevent the antichrist’s coming so their presence at prologue and epilogue is pointless.

There are slight changes to the story, Robert Thorn (Liev Schreiber) is a diplomat, rather than Ambassador, in Rome and godson of the President. Again Damien (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick) is swapped for his dead baby without his wife Kathy (Julia Stiles) knowing. He is named deputy ambassador to England and gets the full Ambassadorial role due to a bizarre (and infernally manufactured) accident that kills the Ambassador (Marshall Cupp) and leaves thorn the US’s youngest ever Ambassador. But it is window dressing to explain why such a young man becomes ambassador.

aesthetic change
The changes thus are minor; when the Nanny (Amy Huck) kills herself the hell hound is a black German Shepherd rather than a Rottweiler but then the motif is switched back to Rottweilers for the rest of the film, she hangs herself but doesn’t smash through a window and it is Robert not Kathy who clutches Damien. It is all aesthetic changes.

Similarly the impalement of Father Brennan (Pete Postlethwaite) sees the rains already pouring when he meets Thorn, it is a railing not a lightning conductor that falls and impales him, and said railing passes through a strangely positioned piece of stained glass that then peppers the corpse. Window dressing once again and no more effective for it. Indeed the scene is slightly weaker than the original. A zoo scene replaced the safari park but the gorilla cracking glass was not as powerful an image as the baboons attacking the car in the original.

suicide fantasy
There is the addition of bad dreams haunting the protagonists. Kathy dreams of killing herself and a demonic presence. There are also presences that seem to flit pass Brennan, indicating a demonic presence. This ignores the “less is more” concept that made the first film so powerful. Part of the problem was the acting. I am not suggesting that either Liev Schreiber or Julia Stiles performances were necessarily bad but they lacked the obvious chemistry that underpinned the characters when portrayed by Gregory Peck and Lee Remick.

just not as creepy
The ending itself made a little more sense as police put there to guard people such as Thorn would be armed, however that would only account for the police at his gate that follow him. The armed police who actually kill Thorn would not have had chance to be scrambled in the timeframe suggested by the ending.

All in all, however, this is not a bad film. It is just pretty darn pointless. If you want the Omen then I think you’re better off watching the original. The imdb page is here.

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