Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A Harsh Contrast

As part of my recent excessive reading, I have been going through a load of old school sci-fi novels. One that really stuck out in my mind was "I am Legend" by Richard Matheson, the interesting thing about the book is that it makes the list on most Top 100 horror novels, as well as the Top 100 Sci-fi novels.
It's a very cleverly thought out look at the Vampire mythos, taking a scientific approach to the blood disease that causes vampirism. As well as that, its a very visual novel with lot's of nice imagery which should translate well to film, and has some interesting social commentary laced into it.

So what went wrong with the 1970's movie adaptation "The Omega Man"?

Well, for a start it would have helped if they have used the source material in the film. The opening credits hint towards disaster, citing the film as being adapted from "A novel by Richard Matheson" not, "The Novel" or "The Novel: I am Legend by...", nope, just "a novel".
And then of course there is the second problem...Charlton Heston.
Regardless of whether or not you think the man can act, the man is an arse. he play's Charlton heston in everything I have ever seen and I place him next to Marlon "Cadaver" Brando in my list of over-rated actors. (And while we're on the subject, who want's to start a deadpool on Charlton Heston? C'mon, surely he has to go this year).

So with CH in the lead role, we forego the pistol for survival purposes and replace it with a semi-automatic machine gun (I don't know what type, nor do I care), which he is quick to use at the drop of the hat, for he is after all a full, card carrying member and (president?) spokesperson for the NRA.
They also forget a few more points.
Like Vampires.
And the fact that he is the last man alive (apparently this Greek alhabet goes up to P).
And a plot.
And the fact that the love interest isn't suppose to be a gun-weilding Blaxploitation cast-off.
The movie reaches the forty minute mark and manages to reach the end of the novel whilst deftly avoiding all the points that made the novel so good, like issolation, mans struggles to survive against insurmountable odds - you know what they say about the little things.

So the next 50 minutes is a free-for-all, unexplored territory, the undiscovered country, the final frontier, a blank slate, anything can happen.
Yet nothing does, the movie plods on at its lacklustre pace until it's seemingly made up on the fly ending, which is ultimately meaningless because he isn't the last person alive and it leaves you with the feeling that, somehow, someway, mankind will perservere and reclaim the day.

Great.

So what does all this have to do with you, the comic reader?

V for Vendetta is but a couple of months away, and to be fair, it could go either way. We have been spoiled of late with the amount of reverence shown to comic book adaptations: Sin City; Batman Begins; Spider-man and X-Men. But this was not always the case: Batman and Robin; Nick Fury; the original Fantastic Four.
Before we remember, remember the fifth of November, we better hope they remember, remember the source material.

-Sid Beckett

Also, I think adaptation is a shit word. Adaption is a much better word, and will be used hereforth. Say it a few times, Comic book adaption - sounds better doesn't it?
Newspeak here we come.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

And its not the first attempt either, have you seen last man on earth also based on I am legend?

Sid said...

No, but if you type in "I am Legend" on google image search, you get a great teaser poster!

Anonymous said...

Another 'I am legend' movie adaption is slated for release in 2007, the guy directing it is Francis Lawrence, who also directed Constantine... I say no more

Stuart Cattell said...

Why are you being so harsh on The Omega Man. I was there when you were watching the last half hour and I've never seen you laugh at a comedy that much in ages.
What was that....?
It wasn't supposed to be funny?


Good Lord.