The Omen (2006) Review (Blu-ray)

The date is one that comes but once a century, so what better way to capitalize on the sixth of June with a movie which brings about the start of Armageddon? To further bring forth the sense of dread, Fox decided a remake of Richard Donner’s 1976 film The Omen would fit the bill. But this time around, rather than Gregory Peck filling in the lead role, we get Liev Schrieber playing Robert Thron, an American diplomat who due to the nature of his job moves overseas with his wife (Julia Stiles) who is with child. Complications during birth result is the death of the Thron’s child, but oddly a priest at the hospital offers Robert a child who was also just born, but who’s mother had died ” promising that no one would need to know about the deal.

Damien, played by creepy Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, is a boy of few words ” even after his nanny leaps from the roof of his house taking her life in his name. The hunt for a new nanny brings about Mia Farrow in a good role as Mrs. Baylock, who ends up being more than just a nanny for little Damien. As the Throns start to realize that there might be something else to their little boy, other coincidences start to happen around Damien that pique their desire for more knowledge, combine this with Robert being visited by a priest with news about their child and we’ve got the makings of a suspenseful thriller.

However, not much has changed between this remake of The Omen and the 1976 version. Some of the prophecies that are cited as indicating the end of days have been altered to include some recent happenings, rendering the story a little more modern. But overall the changes are been minimal aside from a badly needed update to the musical score.

Fox has given The Omen a 25GB single-sided Blu-ray disc using MPEG-2 compression with a rating of 18 Mbps. However, during many points the video bit rate drops according to Playstation 3’s info bar, sometimes as low as 13Mbps. No worries though as the presentation is ultra crisp with splashes of color really popping off the screen, and only minor bits of grain noticed in intentional grainy scenes. Seeing as a fair portion of the film takes place in shadows, I was pleased to see that when compared with the DVD release this was far ahead in terms of detail in the shadows. The pixilation that was so prevailing in the DVD release is no where to be found, and in fact the scenes where the pixilation was a bother before look amazingly clear and detailed.

The Omen features only one English soundtrack option, a lossless DTS track taken from the master. So if your receiver doesn’t have a DTS decoder, you’re out of luck unless you speak French or Spanish, both of which get Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks. When swapping between Dolby and DTS in this case, the DTS track comes out eons ahead in terms of quality. Sounds are deeper, more powerful and much more precise in their reproduction.

The extra space Blu-ray offers doesn’t always translate to the complete suite of extras being ported from the DVD release. Missing is a forty-minute behind the scenes piece with cast and crew. Included are the extended death scenes, a short piece on scoring the film from the Abbey Road studio, and the Revelations 666 feature which explores the mystical number in our world, and a feature length audio commentary with director John Moore, editor Dan Zimmerman, and producer Glenn Williamson. The three discuss some neat trivia throughout the film, discuss the original version of The Omen versus their own, and offer some insight into specific scenes.

The one new feature exclusive to Blu-ray is a Trivia Track called The Devil’s Footnotes. It’s a neat little pop-up video which discusses Satanism, Alistair Crowley, and from time to time highlights portions of what’s going on in the movie. The one detraction is that it takes your attention away from the movie, and the text is actually a little small to read when onscreen even on a respectable 42” television.

A fancy new transfer and a great audio presentation however cannot save a film completely. The Omen is still a remake of a classic film with the addition of reminders of the current state of the world we live in. Most will still feel the original feature is better thanks to a creepier looking Damian, and less reliance on today’s political climate. The Blu-ray Disc, while skimping on some features, does really bring out the details in the movie and that alone brings the overall score up over the previously released DVD version.

– Shawn Fitzgerald

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