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Although not the only film adapted from or influenced by Richard Matheson's novel I Am Legend, THE OMEGA MAN ($20), starring Charlton Heston, is certainly the best known. In 1971ís THE OMEGA MAN, Heston portrays military research scientist Robert Neville, who is seemingly the only uninfected survivor bio-engineered plague that has wiped out almost all of humanity. Having used an experimental vaccine on himself, Neville has most of the world to himself, except for a few of the afflicted, who have mutated into slightly mad, light sensitive, vampire like albinos.

Forming a quasi-religious sect the called "The Family" the mutants and their leader Matthias (Anthony Zerbe) exist to exterminate Neville, because he is the one true reminder of their former lives. However, things take an interesting turn when Neville encounters a woman named Lisa (Rosalind Cash) and a group of children under her care, who have managed to stave off the infection. As it turns out, there may be a way to save humanity if Neville can avoid falling victim to "The Family" and can find a way to create more of the experimental vaccine from samples of his own blood. The cast of THE OMEGA MAN also includes Paul Koslo, Eric Laneuville and Lincoln Kilpatrick.

Warner Home Video has made THE OMEGA MAN available on DVD in a very good-looking 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. The image appears pretty sharp and rather nicely defined. Colors appear well saturated and somewhat more appealing than many films produced in the early seventies, which may have something to do with THE OMEGA MAN coming towards the end of the end of the era where Technicolor was still manufacturing IB prints. Blacks are inky, whites are clean, plus the picture produces fine contrast and better than average shadow detail for the era. The film element used for the transfer displays some age related blemishes and a bit of a grain structure, but is otherwise appealing in appearance. Digital compression artifacts are never a cause for concern.

THE OMEGA MAN comes with a perfectly workable Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack. As one might expect, fidelity is on the limited side, with some occasional brittleness in the music and sound effects, but it is never too bothersome. Dialogue is fairly crisp and is always completely understandable. The mastering process has taken care of most of the background hiss and surface noise, so the track holds its own at average listening levels. A French language track is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, Spanish and French subtitles.

Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a couple of extras. A Four-minute introduction featuring screenwriter Joyce H. Corrington, plus actors Eric Laneuville and Paul Koslo has been provided on the DVD, as has The Last Man Alive - The Omega Man, a ten-minute featurette from the filmís original release. Charlton Heston Sci-Fi Legend is a brief test essay concerned with the actorís genre film appearances. A cast & crew listing, plus theatrical trailer close out the extras.

THE OMEGA MAN is an interesting and enjoyable piece of early seventies science fiction featuring Charlton Heston. Warner has done a good job with the DVD, producing a rather satisfying presentation. If you are a Heston or sci-fi fan, THE OMEGA MAN is a DVD you will want to check out.



The Omega Man (1971)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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