Movie Review

Reborn under a bad sign

Staff WriterJune 6, 2006 

  • 1 star

    CAST: Liev Schreiber, Julia Stiles, Mia Farrow, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick.

    DIRECTOR: John Moore.

    LENGTH: 1 hour, 50 minutes.

    WEB SITE: www.heedtheomen.com.

    THEATERS: Apex: Beaver Creek; Cary: Crossroads; Chapel Hill: Lumina, Timberlyne; Durham: Southpoint; Garner: Towne Square, White Oak; Morrisville: Park Place; Raleigh: Brier Creek, Carmike, Grande, Mission Valley, North Hills, Wakefield; Roxboro: Palace; Smithfield: Smithfield.

    RATING: R (disturbing violent content, graphic images and some language).

In "The Omen," a father cuts his son's hair to see if the kid has three sixes on his head. I nearly lost my hair before seeing the movie -- ripping it out of my scalp in sheer frustration at the prospect of another remake.

Why, why, why must we go through this? Every other week, we have to deal with a remake no one asked for. If you've seen the original, there's really no reason to see this.

You know the drill: U.S. diplomat Robert Thorn (the increasingly uncharismatic Liev Schreiber) rushes to a hospital in Rome to learn that his wife, Kathryn (Julia Stiles -- huh?), has had a miscarriage. A man of the cloth dupes him into thinking that his wife cannot have children, then coerces him into adopting a newborn baby, passing it off to his wife as their firstborn.

Cut to five years later: Thorn is U.S. ambassador to Great Britain, Damien (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick) is a happy, healthy youngster, and Kathryn starts getting worried about her son, especially when his last nanny hangs herself, the sight of a church sends him into a screaming fit, and animals freak out when his dour mug appears. (Seriously, where did they get this sad, pouty boy? He looks like that kid from the "Angela's Ashes" movie poster.)

This new "Omen" could be the most pointless remake so far this year. The movie is such a shot-by-shot facsimile that it credits the screenwriter, David Seltzer, of the 1976 original. The only big change director John Moore makes is turning the couple into a pair of rotten authority figures, instead of the deeply concerned parents Gregory Peck and Lee Remick played in Richard Donner's film.

With this new twist, the movie goes from being a good vs. evil yarn to a pitifully obvious allegory on neglectful parenting. Want further proof? Professional foster mother Mia Farrow plays the evil nanny Damien is most comfortable with. (This could also be Moore being cheeky by casting the "Rosemary's Baby" star as the child's protector.)

Schreiber plays Thorn as a clueless, self-centered career dad, and Stiles shrills it up as a clearly unprepared, stay-at-home mom who's afraid of her own kid. No wonder the boy wants to put a stop to them before they bring another one into this world.

The second half looks superficially compelling when Thorn finally gets his head out from between his cheeks, hooks up with a concerned photographer (David Thewlis) and travels back to Rome to end his kid's reign of terror. It may also just seem more compelling because Stiles isn't in a lot of it. A gal who looks and acts like she hasn't aged a day over 14, Stiles still hasn't mastered playing grown-ups.

But even with Stiles trying to talk with the big-girl voice, this "Omen" is indeed a bad one. It's sad that someone remade the film just to release it on June 6, 2006. Trust me: That's the only thing about this movie that works.

Staff writer Craig D. Lindsey can be reached at 829-4760, clindsey@newsobserver.com or blogs.newsobserver.com/unclecrizzle.

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