Will Smith as the Omega man?
I had a wonderful conversation with my cousin Jim last Sunday. I don’t remember most of the details, as I had many beers during our conversation, but I do remember one little thing. Jim said that Hollywood was making a re-make of the movie Omega Man. My first question was why? Then I heard that they cast Will Smith in the staring role. At first I didn’t believe my ears, but Jim has a talent for speaking the truth, even when it is painful to hear.
Now I am left with the aftermath.
Some of my favorite movies were made in the 70s and stared Charlton Heston. Soylent Green, The Omega Man, and Planet of the Apes are classics. As an example of Hollywood running out of ideas, or worse, not willing to take a chance you have the remake. Most remakes are cruel, and inept attempts to modernize movies that can stand on their own. As an example Planet of the Apes was an awful and costly mess. The movie was bad enough, but to cast Mark Wahlberg as leading man, made it even worse. Now it’s The Omega Man that will be put through the high dollar CGI infected, product placement, opportunity mill.
The movie is called I am Legend, from the original Matheson’s novel which the movie The Omega Man was an adaption. Casting Will Smith, I believe, is a mistake, same as casting Mark Wahlberg in Planet of the Apes. I wish that casting had more to do with talent and matching the author’s vision of characters than box office draw and name recognition.
There is something about science fiction that requires a certain kind of actor. If miscast an otherwise excellent movie can be brought down to the level of a “B” movie simply by a poor casting decision. I have nothing against Will Smith as an actor; he does a great job in every movie I have ever seen where there is some basis in reality. He somehow has the effect upon the science fiction movie he acts in that moves the movie from serious to camp. As an example of movies that were made as pure campy comedy are Wild Wild West, Independence Day, and Men in Black however, I Robot was intended as a serious movie. I would have taken it much more seriously if another actor took his place. Maybe he is typecast but I don’t think so, and no, it’s not a race issue, I would have loved to see Laurence Fishburne play the starring role in I Robot. Bruce Campbell and Dennis Miller have the same effect; it’s not the actors fault.
There is also nothing wrong with B movies, zombie movies are an excellent example of how humor and camp can create a wonderfully entertaining movie. Camp has its place. When you start with an excellent foundation like I am Legend please don’t cast an actor like Bruce Campbell. Serious movies need serious actors. Serious Science fiction movies don’t need more campy actors that will wink or nod to the audience.
I will see this movie when it comes out. And yes I will try to have an open mind and not view Will Smith as “J”, “layin down his thing” on the bad guys.
So what’s next in the 70s remake-mayhem? Who will be next, to be miscast in another classic sci-fi movie?
Let’s get this rolling with a few ideas:
Soylent Green: Staring David Shwimmer?
WestWorld: Starring Ben Affleck as the gun toting robot cowboy and Matt Damon as the city slicker who runs around scared to death?
The Andromeda Strain: Starring Brad Pit as the cocky young scientist and Angelina Jolie as the sexy nurse attending to the drunk and the baby?
Silent Running: Starring Mel Gibson as the lonely eco-nut, his robots played by CGI duck-like creatures?
Colussus: The Forbin Project: Starring Ashton Kutcher as Dr. Forbin?
Logan‘s Run: Starring Tom Cruise and Jenifer Aniston running around with black crystals on their palms.
Then there is Star Wars.
George Lucas already re-made his own movie and mis-cast Hayden Christenson as Darth Vader, so Star Wars officially killed itself with its own prequel. Maybe he spawned a new word… Prequelside.
Anymore examples for the 70s that you can think of?