Monday, August 03, 2009
Movie Review - I Am Omega (2007)
Sci-Fi Channel (or SyFy - whatever) is trying to kill me. Seriously - is SyFy, or Chiller for that matter, the mucky, fly covered, smelly bottom of the port-o-john as far as cable movie stations go? It is a source of constant amazement and never ending bewilderment to me as to where and why they get so many truly awful movies. AMC does a great job of showing great and classic horror on Friday nights and at Halloween time. USA and Spike get first rate horror and sci-fi movies that are sometimes mere months out of the movieplexes.
And SyFy gets crap like I Am Omega.
I do need to be honest in that I am a huge fan of the source material for this film. Richard Matheson's I Am Legend is probably one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time and is quite probably THE singular piece of survival horror fiction that all modern apocalyptic fiction can trace its roots to. Indeed, until Cormac McCarthy's brilliant, poignant, and bleak The Road came out - I'd argue that no book has come so close to capturing the horror and loneliness of being the only survivor in a world that's moved on. Sadly, it is against this backdrop that the movie adaptations of this novel continue to disappoint.
The best version - so far - was the first attempt back in 1964. Vincent Price's The Last Man on Earth was a brillinat masterpiece. Charlton Heston did a decent job in The Omega Man, but the story was damaged by his ego, his overacting, and the poor script quality. I Am Legend, with Will Smith, was decent - but the poorly rendered CGI and lame ass ending ruined an otherwise cool film.
And then we have I Am Omega. A typical film from the low budget film distributer, The Asylum, it attempts to make money off of the release of a better known film (in this case, the aforementioned I Am Legend). The Asylum's business plan involves your going to the local video store and discovering that the new release of the coolest sci-fi or horror movie is all out. This will force you to maybe take a chance on the similarly named, similarly themed film that is alphabetically close to the movie you came for. Essentially, The Asylum is the equivalent of the generic version of your favorite vegetable at the grocery store. But, instead of a black and white label, they spend an assload of money on really cool DVD cover art that has nothing to do with the enclosed film, but is designed to lure you in.
And I'm cool with that, to an extent. I won't begrudge companies making low budget, indie horror or sci-fi films. In fact, if we didn't have low budget horror films, many great classic films would have never been made. Where I have an issue is when the films are just horrible and are put together purely for the money they can make. If you don't have a love for the genre, don't get into it. That's all I'm saying.
Enter I Am Omega. Mark Dacascos plays Renchard, the last man left alive after a plague hits the earth and turns the rest of the population into zombies. But he's not the last guy. There's some other military guys who show up to bully him into helping them rescue a woman trapped in the local city. The woman, by the way, may have the cure. Or something like that. I really reached the point of not caring about 20 minutes into it and watching it became less about enjoying a zombie movie as it was a stubborn refusal to turn it off - a test of wills, really. An endurance contest between myself and the mental anguish and pain this movie induced in me. I felt the need to see who who would blink first because I NEEDED some horror that night. Something, anything was better than reruns of Dog the Bounty Hunter. The thing is, I'm not really sure who won... but I suspect that I am now somehow dumber for having watched this movie.
I wanted to like this movie. Really. Like I said, I am a fan of the source material. And changing the monsters in it from vampires to zombies had the potential to be good. And I even kind of like Mark Dacascos (He practically channeled Brandon Lee in the TV series version of The Crow). But the effects, production, makeup, and dialogue were so bad as to be almost painful. This movie is a prime example of why non-fans shouldn't be allowed to make or produce horror films.
What else sucked? Oh let me count the suck...
The direction. Mark Dacascos did his noble best with what he had, and I'm sure he needed the money to make a condo payment, but the direction was just atrocious. I don't know if the director went to film school, and neither did I for that matter, but I'm pretty sure there MUST be a rule that says if you use repeated 360 degree camera whip pans, there needs to be some pay off to them. They are great at building tension, but it jangles the nerves in the back of my undead skull to see them repeatedly and then have NOTHING happen. The beginning had potential as it showed how the the character of Renchard was losing his mind, but any meaningful character develoment was thrown out the window as soon as the opportunity for karate kicks, explosions, car chases, and an endless slew of action movie cliches presented themselves.
And I am so goddamned sick of seeing zombies in movies who are little more than guys in jumpsuits, with some black makeup and karo syrup blood smeared on their face. Running around shrieking does not a zombie make. Especially when the main character can defeat them with a well placed over-exaggerated karate kick.
And don't even get me started on the racist, stereotypical military characters. They were, for all intents and purposes, walking bags of cliche with lines that nobody would ever say in real life. And if they did, they most likely would deserve a garrotting.
The saddest part is that the only truly redeeming thing about this film was the very small chuckle I emitted when I saw that the main character was driving around town in a ...wait for it... Olds Omega.
So - the final verdict? Bad story, stupid script, criminally negligent direction, painful acting, and a complete and utter waste of time. Yes it had zombies, but even that could not bring redemption. The very valuable life lesson learned here? Stay away from late night movies on SyFy. In the name of all that is holy, stay away!
DOCTOR Z'S RATING: 1 out of 5 Chomped Brains