I AM OMEGA was a direct-to-video film rushed out to take advantage of the Will Smith vehicle. There are differing thoughts on whether it ripped off Matheson. Matthew Bradley, of BRADLEY ON FILM, and I have discussed it in the past and he doesn’t think so. I hadn’t seen it back then and couldn’t disagree. He’s much more well versed on that subject than I am, but after finally catching it, in my mind, it does rip off the novel with no acknowledgment to Matheson. To be sure, it veers wildly away from the novel. But it’s there. Some other reviews of the film I found don’t think so either. Obviously not readers, they don’t seem to realize there was even a novel that came before, calling it a rip-off of both THE OMEGA MAN and Smith’s I AM LEGEND.
A man alone, Renchard(Mark Dacosco of Iron Chef note) barricades himself in his home at night, eating food and conversing with a mannequin setting across from him. A woman, Brianna(Jennifer Lee Wiggins), trapped in the city and needing help. She carries an immunity to the virus. A couple of rednecks, Vincent(Geoff Mead, who also doubles as screen writer) and Mike(Ryan Lloyd) who force Renchard to rescue Brianna. They are not what they seem.
Renchard seems a man not wound real tight. One supposes what he’s gone through has unhinged him a bit. He seems to have illusions quite frequently and we see one scene where he’s eating some sort of pills like Pez, one after another, no explanation, no apparent effect. He’s planting huge bundles of plastique with timers around the city and in the sewers near gas lines, securing them with duct tape(a supremely versatile invention). he’s planning to blow up the city.
The victims of this virus are more zombie-like than vampire types and are extremely active, fast. They have a ridge of bony extrusions running down their spines. They come out day or night. Very easily taken out, gun(automatic weapons, shotguns, handguns), machetes, just plain out martial arts(Dacosco is a martial artist of note and shows his abilities throughout the movie, wasting time in one sequence to show off his abilities with nunchaku, more popularly nunchucks, instead of just escaping in the car. And despite the DVD cover, we never see more than a handful of these zombies at any one time(the IMDb entry has ten names in the credits listed as various zombies).
Plenty of goofs in continuity, which usually happens in rush jobs. A car pointed in one direction when Renchard enters a building, the other when he emerges. Closing garage doors when he leaves, but standing open when the car goes by. Renchard carries a Heckler & Koch MP5. A couple of close-ups of a weapon firing are of an AR15 type weapon. He’s supposed to in an alley in the city and those close-ups are in a forest. The city is supposed to be L.A., but in the alley scene a dumpster has City of Oxnard stenciled on it.
And no where in this thing is any attempt made to explain the virus, what happened, any efforts made to combat it. Just nonsensical scenes of a lot of martial arts action.
The car Renchard drives early in the movie and the convertible Brinna and he choose in the parking garage are 1975 Oldsmobile Omegas(heh). The convertible is a problem because the model didn’t come in that style(converted i suppose). Renchard keeps saying they need a stick shift because all the batteries would be dead and they’d need to push it off(makes sense). But Brianna wants the convertible and bullies him into trying it. Lo and behold it works with his hot-wiring, just long enough for them to back out. Then it goes dead and we’re treated to one of those scenes we’ve seen a thousand times. The zombies are closong in while our hero tries desperately to crank the recalcitrant car, getting it going at the last second. Then stupidity sets in. Instead of leaving, Renchard jumps out with his nunchucks and starts fighting with them.
A giant plot hole is the two rednecks forcing Ranchard to help rescue Brianna. They know about him planting the explosives around the city and why. They’ve been watching him. Brianna was headed for Antioch, an enclave of unaffected humans and the pair of rednecks claim to be from there. Then at the end, Vincent plans to kill her to prevent a antivirus from being made. He’s happy with the world, survival of the fittest, weeding out the sick, the handicapped, and the weak. What then would be the point in rescuing Brianna, losing his buddy in the process.
The script has such pithy lines as “Another day, another dollar.” while paying the dead store owner when getting supplies and, while taking a leak, “I’m pissing on the world!”
This can’t be to long after the apocalypse as the infrastructure seems to be working quite nicely. Renchard has a laptop that functions, so the internet is still up. In fact, that’s how he makes contact with Brianna. He keep getting a message coming in signal that he thinks might be his mind at work at first. The city seems to be very clean. A couple of alley scenes show trash strewn around, but long shots down a street look very nice. Just empty of people.
The folks responsible for this are known as The Asylum, an outfit that specialize these low budget efforts to confuse people and bleed a few dollars from unsuspecting people for higher budgeted movies. They are known for such efforts as Transmorphers, Supercroc(Bill’s probably seen this one), and Snakes On A Plane. Despite all I said, I AM OMEGA was not the worst movie I’ve ever seen. Wouldn’t recommend it though.
For much better overlooked movies, check out Todd Mason over at Sweet Freedom on Tuesdays.
For those interested, here’s the movie on Youtube.