Rated PG-13 - Running Time: 1:39 - Released 10/15/99

Casper Van Dien, who starred in the abysmal Starship Troopers and more recently had a small part in Sleepy Hollow, has proven again that he does not have what it takes to be a leading man. Van Dien is so howlingly bad in The Omega Code that he alone would be a reason to avoid it, but there's soooooo much more. The script, by the freshman team of Stephan Blinn and Hollis Barton, is not only preposterous in concept but badly executed from a dialogue standpoint. The film is sometimes visually interesting (thanks mainly to the cinematography of Carlos González), but Robert Marcarelli's directing lacks any insight into human behavior. Even Michael York, a seasoned actor with many distinguished credits to his name, can't make this film look good. The script is so bad he can't possibly behave in a convincing manner. So he doesn't even try.

The Omega Code involves the theory that crisscrossed throughout the ancient Hebrew text of the Torah are numerous codified predictions about the future. If one looks closely, one can decode cryptic messages by aligning certain characters, or skipping by regular intervals, or by viewing the text backwards, or whatever. Kinda like how "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" is supposed to stand for LSD. People have worked for centuries to unravel this complex code and thereby gain knowledge of what exit to take when the world ends.

Van Dien plays Dr. Gillen Lane, a famous motivational guru who is supposed to be an authority on the subject. Lane is spotted by Stone Alexander (York), a wealthy, ambitious despot who has a bank of computers working full tilt to crack the code, and occasionally finding messages like "Hitler is a fink" and "Be sure to drink your Ovaltine." Although Alexander really wants to rule the world like any good villain would, he engages in regular showings of outward humility and charity, and gains worldwide goodwill by posing as a philanthropist. He summons Lane to his side and offers him a position as his right-hand man, and Lane, who can never refuse a chance to get more press coverage and get away from his bitchy wife (Devon Odessa), agrees.

As they begin a world tour to promote worldwide religious unity (and to promote Alexander as its leader), they are confounded by two nameless prophets (Jan Tríska and Gregory Wagrowski) who make their own predictions, like "Christ good — Alexander bad." Soon Lane must decide whether to stick with his crazy new friend and ride his coattails right to the top, or turn against him and save the world as we know it. Also present are Michael Ironside as Alexander's number one goon, and Catherine Oxenberg (whom Van Dien apparently married during production) as the Mystery Woman.

The story is dumb. The actors are dumb. Even the special effects are dumb. But not half as dumb as you'll feel if you pay to get in.

Copyright 1999 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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