Omen Review

Three graphic designers, Dan, Big and Beam (played by Thai boyband D2B), slave away late at night for their unhappy boss. As they return home, all three have a mysterious occurrence: Dan almost kills an old lady but crashes his car instead, Big is accosted by a street kid with magical powers and Beam narrowly avoids death when a flowerpot smashes onto his car. None of them think much of the events until Dan returns to the scene of his accident - there he finds the same old lady who uncannily predicts a future event for him. Shaken, Dan wonders whether the old woman is real or not but his friends feel he's got an overactive imagination and should lay off the coffee for a while. Events however start to take a turn for the worse and Dan returns to the old lady to find out more...

Although Oxide and Danny Pang (Infernal Affairs, The Eye) have their names all over this film, the real stars are the Thai pop sensations D2B. Based and filmed in Thailand, Omen was their first cinematic outing with the HK brothers leaving the directing to Thammarak Kamuttmanoch. The presence of a boy band is none too alluring a prospect and the likelihood of this landing itself in the same league as Glitter and Crossroads seemed high. The good news is that it is miles away from US-diva-land but as a film, it's not actually that great either though the fault does not lie with the cheesy muzaks but rather with the script. The opening hour of the film manages to keep the tension together thanks to some good editing, decent performances and atmospheric use of lighting. The multi-stranded narrative functions relatively well and the film doesn't explain too much too soon which is a definite plus. However, the last half hour shakes the film's foundations to the core and - without revealing too much - is about as effective as damp gunpowder and fails to match the quality of the output we have been used to from the Pang twins. Still, for a large part of its running time, the film is effective both visually and emotionally. The acting is generally pretty good with the three members of D2B showing a certain restraint in their performances and a lack of knowing glances to their screaming female fans. It's a shame that a lot of good effort from all involved is let down by an unsatisfactory script. That may be why the Pang's elected not to film this although their involvement on many other levels suggests otherwise. It's not an unmitigated disaster but I imagine the film's main selling point would have been the presence of D2B.

The DVD:

The image:
The print used seems to not be the freshest - there are relatively frequent specks and hairs appearing here and there and the image could do with being sharper. The darks lack solidity in some scenes and don't grade too well in the transfer. Overall, it is watchable but not outstanding, especially for a relatively recent film.

The sound:
The DTS soundtrack seems a bit like overkill here. There are some good uses of atmospherics but it's not really a thumping soundtrack. The DD 5.1 track is slightly less impressive but still quite effective in some use of the surrounds. Given the presence of three mixes of the Thai track (DTS, 5.1 and Stereo Surround), I have the vague impression that the transfer has suffered as a result.
The subtitles on the other hand are quite rapid in places but contain few mistakes and are non-compulsory.

The extras:
We get the usual commercial trailers for other films as well as for Omen but the bulk of the extras are very clearly aimed at fans of the D2B band and as a result were of little interest to the acoustic music lover that I am. First off, The D2B story gives an in depth bio of the band and their rise to fame then D2B profiles gives us all the lowdown on the boys interests, measurements and tutti quanti. Finally, A Tribute to Big describes Big's car crash which almost killed him (replete with fan letters - I feel it was beyond the call of duty to read more than two). The rest of the extras focus more on the film with a ream of production stills and a very brief set of production notes that barely give a film synopsis. The final extra is a bumper sticker of the movie, with the boys looking pretty moody - ideas as to where I should stick it at the usual address.

Omen is a bit of a difficult film to grade - it's far better than it ought to be for a singer/band vehicle but it doesn't really cut the mustard as a thriller. The DVD extras seem to aim the DVD solely at fans of the D2B band so will be of little interest to anyone else.

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