I Am the Last Omega Man on Earth: A Franchise in Review

Most people don’t know that 2007’s I Am Legend was actually the third film adaptation of Richard Matheson’s  classic horror book.  All three versions are different in many ways: the leading man, the blood-thirsty monsters, and even the ending.  Here, I will review each of them, pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of both, and ultimately revealing which I believe to be the best film.

The Last Man on Earth (1964)

This classic horror flick has Vincent Price as Dr. Robert Morgan.  Price’s character is particularly haunted by memories of an old colleague who has fallen prey to the world-wide disease.  Unlike the two later performances of Charlton Heston and Will Smith, Price presents himself more as a scientist than a survival expert.  Not to say that Morgan doesn’t have some good ideas.  But his methods are usually more crude and primitive than bearing a machine gun (he uses a hammer to drive stakes into the chests of the monsters).  The creatures of The Last Man are identical to the traditional depiction of a zombie; they still wear their human clothes, their faces are hideous, and they walk slowly in pursuit of their prey.  I was surprised how entertaining this all was though.  It may have been a little corny, but if you enjoy Matheson’s story enough, you may really enjoy it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Omega Man (1971)

However much I love Vincent Price, I do believe that Charlton Heston has the role down much better.  Heston brings more confidence, and it becomes obvious that his chances of surviving should be a lot better than Price’s.  But there’s a catch: this time the murderous creatures are more of a cult than a horde of zombies.  They set traps for the doctor and constantly attempt to convert Heston to their side.  Because I have a sweet tooth for zombie pictures, the human-like intelligence of the monsters made the film less satisfying.  Even with Heston’s performance, I prefer The Last Man to this remake.

 

 

 

 

I Am Legend (2007)

It’s easy to see why I enjoyed this one: dumb-witted zombies, great suspense, an intense leading performance.  For once, I think that Mathson’s story gets the credit that it deserves here.  Smith’s determination and physicality are excellent for the part and the addition of a partner for our hero (a German Shepherd) was a nice idea.  The agility of the monsters also gives us a better sense of danger.  This is by far the darkest and most action-packed film of the franchise, bringing us closer to the doctor’s world than ever before.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion:

Best Film: I Am Legend

Runner-Up: The Last Man on Earth

Best Leading Man: Charlton Heston, The Omega Man

Runner-Up: Will Smith, I Am Legend

Best Zombies: I Am Legend 

Runner-Up: The Last Man on Earth

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Film Review: There Will Be Blood (2007)

I see the worst in people.  I don’t need to look past seeing them to get all I need.  I’ve built my hatreds up over the years, little by little…”

These are the words of Daniel Plainview.  He arrived at the small California community of Little Boston in 1907 in search of somewhere to drill for oil.  Accompanying him is his son, H.W., whom he keeps by his side constantly.  Each day, he brings H.W. along to show him the ways of his trade.  Not only is he a slick businessman, but he is also an ambitious one, and everything seems to be going right for him until disaster strikes during drilling one day.  This event is the breaking point for Plainview, who then finds it near impossible to keep his temper concealed.  It is only then that we see the man as he really is.

In a vivid Oscar-winning performance, Daniel Day-Lewis embodies the character of Plainview.  On the opposite side is Paul Dano depicting the foolish pastor who the oil man claims as his enemy.  Both are great performances, but they are not all that captivates those who enter into this film.  The expansive desert setting, the chilling musical score, and the wonderful direction evoke just the right feelings from the audience.  Even though it can be received as entertainment, it is also a great work of art.  If it had not been pitted against the Coen’s No Country for Old Men in 2007’s Best Picture race, there is no doubt in my mind that it could have nabbed the award.

Even without a statuette, There Will Be Blood is an instant classic.  Most filmmakers might have been tempted to make a conventional Hollywood drama or action thriller when given the source material of Upton Sinclair’s Oil!.  I am certainly glad that director Anderson made it the way he did.  His atmospheric epic seems to have taken some lessons in characterization from Henri-Georges Clouzot’s dark, grimy The Wages of Fear.  When considering this, it is no wonder I enjoyed it so much.

Rating: 5/5