Tuesday, April 4, 2017

I saw Joshua Kennedy's Alpha Omega Man...

There's good reason why I praise Joshua Kennedy as a filmmaker. As I indicated in my review of "The Return of Sherlock Holmes" (see March '17), Kennedy remembers--remembers the style and structure of movies of the past, and time and again, he recaptures their essence to an impeccable degree in each of his Gooey Film Productions.

Kennedy just released another marvelous example of his sterling skills (now present on YouTube) in his Pace University thesis project, "The Alpha Omega Man": a tribute to Boris Sagal's 1971 adaptation of Richard Matheson's "I Am Legend", about a "futuristic", vampire plague, or in this instance, a ghoulish, hippy-zombie sect that the dynamic hero, Robert Neville, seeks to destroy (and perhaps even cure). 

Though "Omega Man" may not be the most faithful adaptation of Matheson's 1957 novel, it's considered among many (myself included) to be the most entertaining (and I guess, therefore, the best) version of the tale, from its Ron Grainer score to its astute inclusion of Charlton Heston.

Sagal's film has a memorable style, and because this style is so specialized, so iconic, it's ideal for spoofing, which is what writer/producer/director Kennedy does whenever the occasion arises, particularly through his gutsy, Heston impersonation. On the other hand, Kennedy's comedic flair never becomes nasty or snobbish, remaining respectably subtle and heartfelt throughout as he recaptures the moody, lonesome feel of the '71 original. He even allows Grainer's rousing score to saturate the atmosphere: a wise choice, indeed, that any "Omega Man" fan will surely savor.

The film also contains quality supporting performances, which includes Laura Laureano as Kennedy's spunky, leading lady (paying impressive homage to Rosalind Cash's legendary Lisa), along with Xander Pretorius; Nick Ries; Dexter John Scott; Traci Thomas; and good, ol' Femforce contributor, Mark Holmes in sturdy supporting roles. Kennedy's sister, Kat Kennedy, also empowers the action, giving a magnificent reinterpretation of Anthony Zerbe's Matthias, a ghoulish guru. Her performance comes across as steady, intellectual and creepy, adding an air of credibility to her interactions with not only Neville, but to those she rules. 

What I always appreciated about the Sagal film was its emphasis on irony, which though prevalent in the other "I Am Legend" adaptations, rises higher in "Omega Man", accentuating the concept of Neville as a perceived monster among the actual monsters. Kennedy obviously understands this distinction and through a series of beautifully articulated scenes, emulates the idea that screenwriters John William and Joyce Corrington nailed so well decades past.

That Kennedy so expertly rekindled the original film's essence is just further proof of his talented sensibility. I can only image what he would do with a completely original, big-budget story in the '70s vein, for this film (like others he's produced) demonstrates his varied and masterful insight toward cinematic lore: the foundation upon which his greatness will assuredly expand.

I highly recommend fans of the original film to give this one a whirl, and even if one hasn't seen the Sagal movie, "Alpha Omega Man" is still worth a view: a guaranteed, slick, fast-paced hour of fulfillment by an extraordinary, up-and-coming filmmaker. 

You can view "Alpha Omega Man" presently at...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pt3bdvtoVpE.  Trust me, folks, you won't be disappointed. 

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