DECEMBER 26, 2008
I debated putting Omen III: The Final Conflict in the “hero killer” category (a genre in which the villainous character is the one we root for – not counting Freddy/Jason type slasher movies), because I don’t think we are supposed to WANT Damien to succeed in his ultimate goal. But since the film doesn’t give us any other characters to really care about, you end up sort of cheering on Damien due to a lack of options.
And maybe that’s why his goals aren’t really all that high-reaching. He doesn’t seem to want to be president (which would have been AWESOME), and he only kills those who pose a threat to him. Even when he is offered a longer position as an ambassador, he’s all like “only 2 years, then I gotta go back to run my company.” It gave me an awesome idea for a movie, in which the Devil (or God) is reborn as a pretty lazy dude, and he only uses his powers for things like making his soda cold when he forgets to put it in the fridge. Then at the end he is shot to death by a burglar or something, just to give the movie some action.
The half-assedry is evident throughout the film, actually. Screenwriter Andrew Birkin can’t ever be bothered to give even the slightest explanation for why the priests who are trying kill Damien (using those daggers from Omen II) are so damned stupid. For example, they never seem to remember that as the Antichrist, Damien is going to be pretty hard to kill, and thus doing things like blocking him on a bridge and then calmly approaching him, dagger in hand, is pretty fucking ridiculous. Were they just hoping he would forget about his powers when his life was at stake?
The ending is a dud too. Damien is walking around muttering about Jesus and the Devil and the whole thing, then this broad just sort of quickly runs into the scene and stabs him, and that’s that. For the end of a trilogy, you would think they would introduce a formidable foe for him to take on in a big showstopping battle, but nope. Incidentally, part of the movie is about Damien’s attempts to kill the “Nazarene”, which is Christ reborn (NOT Chris Treborn), but he does so when the child is in its infancy and therefore can’t really do much. They should have had Damien fail and go into hiding or something, and then face off against the reborn Lord in part IV (which isn’t even about Damien, from what I understand).
All that said, it’s still fun, and occasionally compelling. I like how matter-of-fact Damien is about his identity with some of his staff, and how he has followers everywhere. At one point he has them all meet up and he delivers a nice little inspirational speech, a nice touch. Also, there’s a great scene where he confronts a crucifix and delivers a monologue about who is the better son or whatever. Plus, since Damien is played by Sam Neill, even when he is having some truly atrocious things being done in his name, he is still rather charming.
One of those atrocious things is ordering the deaths of all male children born between 12 am and 6 am on March 24th. Unsurprisingly, we don’t really get any graphic gore or even onscreen deaths, but the suggestion of how they die is pretty gruesome/twisted. My favorite – a priest (apparently a follower), drowning the kid during his baptism. Harsh. Speaking of the deaths, Damien has apparently regained his “cause them to commit suicide” power, which he never used in part 2. The film’s first death is a result of Damien mentally telling a guy to set up an elaborate “open the door and cause a shotgun to go off” machination, possibly the goriest kill in the entire series.
It’s a bummer that Damien never got to really cut loose and cause the kind of havoc he was certainly capable of, but it’s still a good trilogy overall. It was a damn good idea to make each film about a different stage in Damien’s life, rather than just have him be a couple years’ older each time out. The jumping ahead causes some minor continuity errors (they always say the year, so the math never works), but it keeps the films feeling fresh and different enough from one another, which is pretty rare in any franchise.
Like II, the only extra is a commentary, this time by director Graham Baker. He says maybe 12 things over the entire 105 minute film, and 10 of them are just descriptions of the onscreen action. Sometimes he doesn’t even offer a complete thought, such as during the aforementioned bridge scene, when he suddenly announces “Kind of foxes’ point of view...”, five minutes after he last said anything and about 3-4 before he says anything else. Needless to say, don’t waste your time with it, or simply turn it on the first time you are watching the movie (he’s also seemingly unwilling to talk over any dialogue) if you really need to know his non-thoughts on the film’s production.
What say you?