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A view from the Blu (-ray) on DVDBeaver by Leonard Norwitz

 

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The Omen (The Omen Collection) [Blu-ray]

(aka "Omen 666")

 

(John Moore, 2006)

 

Review of the entire collection:

  

The FOUR Blu-rays comprise Fox's The Omen Collection on Blu-ray which includes The Omen (1976), Omen 2: Damien (1978), Omen 3: The Final Conflict (1981) and The Omen (2006)

 

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Studio:

Theatrical: 20th Century Fox

Blu-ray: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

 

Disc:

Region: A

Runtime: 110 min

Chapters: 24

Feature Size: 19.8 GB

Case: Lightweight Gatefold Case, with Slipcover

Release date: October 7th, 2008

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: MPEG-2 @ 18 MBPS

 

Audio:

English DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio. Spanish & French DTS 5.1

 

Subtitles:

English & Spanish

 

Extras:

• Feature Commentary by Director John Moore, Producer Glenn Williamson and Editor Dan Zimmerman.

• Featurette: Abbey Road Sessions (10:14)

• Featurette: Revelations 666 (22:17)

• Extended Scenes (4:12)

• Devil's Footnotes Trivia Track

 

 

The Film:

The Movie: 6.5
While not quite a frame by frame recount of the original, a la Gus van Sant's Psycho, John Moore's remake of the 1976 classic sticks close to the original scenario, so close in fact that David Seltzer is till given credit for the present screenplay. Moore's update reflects current society's increasing tendency to become detached, even from our family. It also is clearer about the price one pays for selling out one's values – that is, making a deal with the devil. We may miss the charisma of Gregory Peck and the cool sex appeal of Lee Remick, but Moore would not have cast their like even if he could for he is after a different tone: less romantic, an image more sharply in focus, while all the while keeping his protagonists in the dark about their fates.

Liev Schreiber is Robert Thorn, an American diplomat stationed in Italy. He arrives at a hospital to learn that his infant son has died at birth. A hospital cleric suggests to Robert that another child, whose parents have just died, could be swapped in place of their baby. Reluctantly, Robert agrees, feeling that his young wife, Katherine (Julia Styles) would be devastated if she learned that her baby had died, and he agrees to keep the changling's identity from her.

The difference between The Omen and the various Faustian stories is that Thorn is not given informed consent, nor does he covet worldly gifts like Jabez Stone or Tom Rakewell. Thorn doesn't get to know with whom he is dealing until it is too late. He is not concerned with the fate of his own soul, and having made his pact, Thorn begins his desperate struggle to rationalize his guilt and the mounting evidence before him. Not that he isn't offered plenty of hints, sometimes more than just hints. HIs fortunes improve on the bodies a string of improbable and grisly deaths of innocent people, but Thorn sees them as coincidences hardly worth noting: The boy's nanny jumps off the roof of their home during his birthday party, hanging herself in obeisance to Damien. A zealot comes to Thorn (Pete Postlethwaith) fervently insisting that his life and that of his wife's are in danger. Damien's new nanny (Mia Farrow, not content with having given birth to the Devil's spawn some 40 years ago) insinuates herself into the family, and deftly undermines the parents' authority.

Peck's Thorn may be more tormented, but he is decisive and remains a man of action. Schreiber's Thorn is more detached than Peck from the start. Where Peck charms his way through his wife's dis-ease, Schreiber is a man of small motions. He remains in a trance, shattered, from the moment he learns of the loss of his child until the final shot. To know his mood we must look closely at his body language. Schreiber's subtle performance doesn't invite us into his head any more than he invites his wife. This is the good and bad news about the movie. There is something eerily familiar about Schreiber's characterization of the husband who simply doesn't listen. His Thorn is a man of our times and, unlike Peck's, it is not a friendly face.

Another actor the new Omen does not have is Jerry Goldsmith. Marco Beltrami's music is certainly what is called for in this new rendering; it is more angular, more overtly threatening, there are no love themes. Alas, next to Remick, it may be Goldsmith's Oscar winning score that I miss most. The production design, photography, the audio mix – these all show what money can buy. Scene for scene, the remake holds it own and occasionally betters the original. Gone, however, is the lyricism that was in such elegant nineteenth century counterpoint to hidden evil. John Moore's evil warrants no such quarter. His evil stares us right in the face. There is time no longer for the simple pleasures of life. In a thinly veiled political comment, with Damien inheriting the American president as his godfather, Armageddon is clearly upon us.

 


 

Image: 8.5/9  NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

It may take a moment to realize why this image looks so different from the original film on which it is based: it is in 1.85:1 instead of 2.35:1. On a big screen in one's private home theatre, this difference is huge. I generally find that the squarer the image, the more intimate my involvement; and while I find the photography of the original more appealing, it is, nonetheless, more stylized. The original is lovely to look at, in marked contrast to its subject: evil. It is lyrical, romantic, always interesting to look at, taking full advantage of it widescreen possibilities. The new movie is bigger, yet for all its extra image size, it is emptier and colder. Its evil fills an emptiness that passively lies in wait. Even the coffins are void save the skeletons. The image, often in chiaroscuro, is always sharp, without processing distractions. Bit rates are high: in the upper 30s. I thought it very good despite
its MPEG-2 credentials and 25 GB capacity.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: 9/8
The uncompressed DTS HD mix takes full advantage of the medium, more often with subtle cues than with directional surrounds. Whether a driving rain, a discussion in a tunnel, an attack by dogs, a juggernaut tricycle (reminiscent of The Shining), the audio track is spot on.
 

Operations: 3
The Lord giveth and taketh away: 3 points for the worst packaging I've seen for a Blu-ray set. The outer sleeve, which is the same height as a standard DVD package, is thin – that's not uncommon, but the flimsy gatefold that holds the discs is an embarrassment to the industry – hardly double the thickness of the thin outer sleeve, with the cheesiest disc holders ever. Another thing I had trouble with was that when I selected the desired scene from the menu while the movie was playing, the scene came up but the menu persisted. Why? Everything else went well. Don't neglect the other bonus features to the right. Disc loads quickly with no
previews or promos.

 

 

 

Extras: 6
The main extra feature is an audio commentary by the director, producer and editor, which was lively and informative as to the creative process and the thinking about choices to diverge from the original movie. I found myself liking the director, John Moore: a team player, who gave credit away like Wachovia before The Fall. There is also a visit to the recording session at Abbey Road, but more to the point, composer Baltrami demonstrates how he thought through his score. While the sound in this segment, in mere DD 2.0, is clear and dynamic, in my setup anyway, could not be controlled from the remote in the same way as everything else. Very odd. I had to adjust the volume for the front channels separately as the master volume level had no effect. Probably some peculiarity about my setup. Maybe not. A quasi-documentary about the fascination with the New Testament Revelation and its presumed predictions about the Second Coming and the Beast is included. Looked like something out of the National Enquirer. The Devil's Trivia Track is activated from the Special Features menu and appears as pop-ups throughout the feature. There are lots of them, ranging in bits about the movie (not many) to fascinating facts and factoids about Satanism. "Damien" I learned is from the Greek, meaning "sweet and harmless." I don't know if that's true, but it put a smile on my face to consider the implications. I found the Trivia Track a peculiar way to watch the track as the movie vied for attention and vice-versa.

 

 

Bottom line: 6
As you can probably tell from my review I thought more of the remake than is generally held, once I let go of Peck, Remick and Goldsmith. This is not merely a van Sant re-filming of the same movie in a different format (in his case, color), but a rethinking of the tone of the story. I thought it stood well enough on its own terms. On the other hand, considering the price of this collection, the presentation is inexcusable. That said, the discs themselves, especially the remake of the original, are all very good in terms of both image and sound. It's nice that the first two movies retain the original mono option. At the moment, only the first movie is
available separately, so the "Collection" is the only option for any of the other movies in HD.

Leonard Norwitz
October 9th, 2008

 

Review of the entire collection:

  

The FOUR Blu-rays comprise Fox's The Omen Collection on Blu-ray which includes The Omen (1976), Omen 2: Damien (1978), Omen 3: The Final Conflict (1981) and The Omen (2006)

 

 





 

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