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MOVIE INFO

Director:
John Moore
Cast:
Liev Schreiber, Julia Stiles, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, Carlo Sabatini, Bohumil Svarc, Giovanni Lombardo Radice, Marshall Cupp
Writing Credits:
David Seltzer

Tagline:
His Day Will Come.

Synopsis:
A government official (Liev Schreiber) and his wife (Julia Stiles) gradually come to think that their cute little tyke, Damien, might be the son of Satan.

Box Office:
Budget
$25 million.
Opening Weekend
$16.026 million on 2723 screens.
Domestic Gross
$54.606 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Surround 2.0
French Dolby Surround 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 109 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 10/10/2006

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director John Moore, Producer Glenn Williamson and Editor Dan Zimmerman
• “Omenisms” Documentary
• “Abbey Road Sessions” Featurette
• “Revelation 666” Featurette
• Extended Scenes and Alternate Ending
• Trailers


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


The Omen (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 4, 2006)

Question of the day: would anyone have decided to remake 1976’s The Omen if they couldn’t release it on June 6, 2006 – AKA 6/6/06? I’ll probably never know the answer to that question, but at least that date allowed the movie some cheap and easy publicity. Not that it helped a ton. Derided by critics as a pointless and barely altered reworking of the original, the 2006 Omen quickly fizzled in the face of summer competition and earned only $54 million at the box office.

The remake certainly earns no points for originality, as it does little to differentiate itself from its predecessor. The story follows Robert Thorn (Liev Schreiber), an American diplomat, and his wife Kathy (Julia Stiles). When the film starts, she's given birth to a stillborn child. The Italians in charge offer to swap the newborn son of a dead mother and no one but Robert will be the wiser. He agrees and the satanic wheels are set in motion.

The plot picks up a few years later as Robert gets the position as deputy ambassador to Great Britain. He soon becomes number one when his boss (Marshall Cupp) suffers an “accidental” demise in a car explosion. We soon jump ahead two years to see the status of the family. At Damien's (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick) sixth birthday party, when some unpleasant events occur. After that, more and more nastiness builds, and the intrigue deepens. Robert pursues the truth and tries to figure out if his kid is actually the spawn of Satan.

The primary criticism of the 2006 Omen came from its slavish adherence to the original. While this one fell short of the literal shot-by-shot nature of Gus Van Sant’s 1998 Psycho, it sure didn’t do much to change the formula. Indeed, I saw it theatrically only days after I watched the 1976 version and was startled to see how much alike the two were. Most of the changes are pretty subtle and don’t do a lot to change the flick.

When I went into my first viewing of Omen, I expected that and thought it’d be a negative for the movie. After all, I didn’t think that highly of the original, so why would I like a remake that didn’t change things? Perhaps my low expectations helped, but I actually liked the remake. This may be an unpopular – and unusual – opinion, but I preferred the 2006 version to the original.

What improvements did I see? The main one came from the remake’s tone. My main complaint about the original stemmed from its overwrought nature. It often bordered on camp and just seemed too over the top to work on a consistent basis.

I also felt the original lacked the nuance it wanted to portray. Director Richard Donner always talks about how he tried to make the events vague so that they could be left up to interpretation. Is Damien really demonic or do all the negative occurrences result from coincidences? Donner wanted to let the viewer decide.

I always thought he didn’t give us much choice. The original film depicted events in such a way that I believed they clearly leaned toward the supernatural side of things. The remake helps remedy this problem, however, as it makes matters more open to interpretation. I still go more for the demonic side of things, but since the 2006 edition lacks the same overwrought tone, it manages to keep things more elusive and vague.

For me, that’s a major improvement, and one that significantly adds to the movie’s effectiveness and creepiness. The remake plays things straight and manages to come across as more believable – or at least as believable as a story of this sort can be. It really does allow us to see the potentially coincidental side of things much better, especially via Stiles’ performance. In the original, Lee Remick just seemed brittle and snippy, but Stiles brings out a deeper sense of internal emotion. I can more easily buy her as a woman on the edge of psychological trauma, and that allows us to more readily view Damien’s “threat” as her delusion.

With the idea of coincidence and psychological issues as more convincing, the 2006 Omen ensures that we become more involved in its story. The actors usually don’t do much to enhance the detail, but they fail to harm it either. Davey-Fitzpatrick outdoes the original’s bland Harvey Stephens, though not by a lot. Schreiber isn’t on the same level as Gregory Peck, but he proves more than acceptable here. Actually, since he tones down Peck’s occasional hamminess from the 1976 version, he proves better; he adds a sense of weight and realism to the movie.

At the risk of sounding like a contrarian, my favorite performance comes from the film’s most florid. As spooky nanny Mrs. Baylock, Mia Farrow comes closest to the original flick’s campiness. She veers on the edge of going over the top in her borderline scenery-chewing work. That said, she brings real spirit to the occasionally too-somber proceedings, and it’s fun to see her in this kind of flick so many years after Rosemary’s Baby. She makes Mrs. Baylock sugary-sweet on the outside despite her darker side.

Clearly the 2006 edition of The Omen won’t go down in the annals of film history as a classic, and I expect it’ll essentially be forgotten before too long. The original has endured for 30 years, so I doubt fans will change their minds and embrace the remake instead. However, I must admit I prefer the newer version. It lacks originality but compensates with the stronger telling of the story.


The DVD Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus B

The Omen appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though not a stellar transfer, the movie exhibited consistently good quality.

The majority of the concerns related to sharpness. Fine detail seemed somewhat lacking, as wider shots often came across as a bit soft. Otherwise the film appeared concise and distinctive. No jagged edges appeared, but I noticed a little shimmering and some light edge enhancement. Other than a smidgen of grain, source concerns were absent. I saw no specks, marks or other problems.

As one might expect from this sort of film, Omen featured a generally chilly color palette. The tones occasionally brightened – such as during Damien’s birthday party – but stayed pretty subdued for the most part. The movie replicated the color design well. Blacks seemed dark and tight, while low-light shots came across as appropriately opaque but not excessively dense. This was a reasonably positive transfer.

Similar thoughts greeted the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Omen. Though the mix didn’t suffer from any notable flaws, it lacked great ambition. For the most part, the soundfield was restrained. Matters opened up occasionally through thunderstorms and a few action sequences, but don’t expect a lot of fireworks. The elements concentrated on the front channels, where they presented good localization and connection. These speakers melded with the surrounds naturally and formed a nice sense of placement, though they rarely went far beyond general atmosphere.

Audio quality stayed positive. Speech was crisp and concise, with no edginess or other issues. Music appeared bright and lively, as the score demonstrated good vivacity and range. Finally, effects sounded clean and accurate. Bass response was full and highs remained taut. This mix failed to present the ambition necessary for anything above a “B”, but it satisfied nonetheless.

For a single-disc release, The Omen comes with a decent set of extras. We open with an audio commentary from director John Moore, producer Glenn Williamson, and editor Dan Zimmerman. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific piece. They get into cast and performances, sets and locations, color schemes and other visual choices, changes from the original movie, the score and costumes, stunts and effects, and various story issues and choices.

At its best, this commentary offers a reasonably insightful view of the film. I like the discussion of alterations from the original movie; the two are so much alike that I missed a lot of small changes. I also think we get decent information about various decisions and themes.

Unfortunately, the participants just can’t help but tell us how much they love the movie. They constantly prattle about this great performance or that beautiful shot or whatever. This creates a tedious tone to the program, as the frequent praise grows tiresome. Hey, I kinda like the flick and I’ve been through more than enough commentaries to expect some fluffiness, but I couldn’t take the inordinate amount of happy talk on display. That factor made this a disappointingly erratic commentary.

A documentary called Omenisms runs 37 minutes and 17 seconds. It features movie clips, behind the scenes elements, and interviews. We hear from Moore, Williamson, actors Liev Schreiber, David Thewlis, Julia Stiles, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, Pete Postlethwaite, Harvey Stephens and Mia Farrow, Seamus’ father Jim Fitzpatrick, visual effects supervisor Matt Johnson, stunt coordinator Pavel Cajzl, stunt person Zuzana Drdacka, makeup chief Fiona Connon, and production designer Patrick Lumb.

“Omenisms” mostly looks at experiences during the shoot. It’s not a terribly traditional program, as it offers a look at various production challenges and pressures. We see how the set-in-stone release date affected the shoot, and we go to various sets and locations in Prague to watch events. The show particularly focuses on a fake hanging and other stunts, attempts to create fake simians, and a few other elements. The participants discuss reactions to the concept of the remake, screenwriting, general filmmaking thoughts and various experiences during the making of the flick.

Don’t watch “Omenisms” in the hope that you’ll find lots of great insight into the production. Instead, check it out for all the fine behind the scenes footage. The DVD for Moore’s Flight of the Phoenix included a similar show that was fun mainly due to our glimpses of the director’s profane presence. That continues here, as we see Moore gripe about problems like a “shit track!”. We also find entertaining shots such as a dog chomping on Schreiber who won’t let go. This isn’t the most informative program, but it’s a nicely candid view of the shoot.

For a look at the score, we go to the 10-minute and 16-second Abbey Road Sessions. It includes comments from Moore, composer Marco Beltrami, 20th Century Fox Music head Robert Kraft, and composer Buck Sanders. We see Beltrami work on his music and get thoughts about why he chose the selections he used. We also learn about orchestration choices and the recording of the score. Lots of footage from various locations help make this an interesting little featurette.

Revelation 666 lasts 22 minutes and five seconds. It presents remarks from Moore, professional poker player Phil Laak, film scholar Sophia Siddique Harvey, USC Professor of Communication Stephen O’Leary, Christian author Tim LaHaye, Church of Satan warlock Brian Moore, LMU Professor of Religion David Sanchez, Rabbi Dan Greyber, conspiracy hobbyist Gene Roth, screenwriter Dan McDermott, music promoter Barry Richards, rock band Society 1, and clinical psychologist Dr. Wayne Aoki. “666” investigates Satanic topics. It mostly concerns itself with the numerical side of things and interpretations of 666. We also get a few reflections on The Omen and the possible presence of Satan in today’s society. (Isn’t “Satan” a hockey goalie? There’s your answer right there – stop looking!)

This all gets pretty goofy, to be honest, and some of it’s just plain wrong; the Rolling Stones never embraced Satanic subjects. Heck, negativity that sometimes accompanied their performances of “Sympathy for the Devil” freaked them out – they definitely weren’t devil-worshipers. “666” is a sporadically interesting show, but it’s too silly and not exactly a rich investigation of its subjects.

Two Extended Scenes and an Alternate Ending last a total of seven minutes, six seconds. We find “Impaling” (2:06), “Beheading” (2:05) and “Alternate Ending” (2:54). These simply add a little more gore and violence to the segments seen in the released flick, so don’t expect anything new. Even the “Alternate Ending” is very close to the final result.

Finally, we find some trailers. These include a teaser and two theatrical promos. We also get an ad for the 1976 version’s “Collector’s Edition”.

If you go anticipate a creative, fresh experience from the 2006 take on The Omen, you’ll leave disappointed, as it adheres very closely to its predecessor. If you want a fairly tight, spooky horror flick, however, the remake is the one to watch. Despite its lack of creativity, it improves on the original with a more intricate, less florid view of events. The DVD presents pretty good picture and audio along with a reasonably nice set of extras. I think the Omen remake is worth a look.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.7727 Stars Number of Votes: 22
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main