Monday, November 21, 2011

The Omega Man

     The Omega Man is the kind of movie that really has to be seen to be believed. Good 'ole Chuck Heston, stars as a survivor of what one can only conclude is an apocalypse brought about by the Chinese fighting the Russians that resulted in both nuclear and germ warfare fallout (causing people to choke suddenly and look hilarious dead with their eyes and mouths open). This movie bleeds “attempted return to relevancy” on Heston's part; and it really warrants mention here. Here is Heston, who we can only assume has already been outed as a conservative, nearing 50 and in the middle of the hippie boom. So what does he do? He dresses up in ruffles and crushed velvet in his wood-paneled bachelor pad and makes googly eyes at a 'woman of color' with an afro in a terribly awkward fashion, as if to say, “Hey! I'm still with it! Isn't that what you kids say? With it?”
     Probably one of the best things about this movie is it's almost as if the director, too, were reaching out to the youth. When the albino cult of hooded, anti-technology mutants make mischief (these are the villains, by the way), it is set to a Herb Alpert-esque silly jazz number instead of anything remotely tension-inducing. The whole movie reads that way; what could be terrifying and suspenseful in the right hands simply winds up camp in the director's hands. Now, make no mistake...this isn't necessarily a bad thing. A movie full of cornball diatribes, irrational car crashes, and illogical sped-up-camera instances makes for a wildly enjoyable hour and a half.
Much of the movie has Heston talking to himself and working hard to convince the audience that three years of scavenging through a post-apocalyptic Los Angeles by day isn't the best thing for one's sanity. We get to see him drive like a complete idiot, despite the fact that there are no other cars to worry about. We get to see him machine gun anything that he thinks moves without so much as hesitating. We get to see him shop for track suits in the track suit store.
     There are some pretty good fight scenes between Heston and the mutants. And considering the fact that there is only one woman in the whole movie, there's a surprising amount of breast screen time. But what really elevates this movie to something worth watching is just how little of it makes sense; especially the whole Christ/messiah imagery and symbolism.
     One final note: if this movie sounds familiar, that's because it is one of three adaptations of the story “I Am Legend”. While not really Man Movies, both The Last Man On Earth and I Am Legend (yes, the Will Smith movie) are worth a rental.

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