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George At 

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The Final Conflict (Omen III)

In 1981, the original "OMEN" trilogy wrapped up with THE FINAL CONFLICT. Much less successful at the box office than the previous two films, its still an interesting and satisfying wrap up for fans of the series.

Long before his American breakout in "Jurassic Park", Sam Neill stars as Damien, now grown up and running Thorn Industries after murdering off his Father and Uncle in the earlier films.

Damien is fully aware of his legacy as the Antichrist and has surrounded himself with an allegiance of those pledged to the dark side.

Our glimpses into Damien's wealth and power are nicely balanced with a group of priests sworn to kill Damien before he comes to power.

Father DeCarlo (Rosanno Brazzi of "South Pacific" fame) and his brothers meet with astronomers who are observing a modern day convergence of stars, a modern-day Star of Bethlehem if you will, as the second coming approaches and Jesus is born again.

It's a bit confusing that Christ appears to be coming back as a newborn, it serves the story well, but leads to confusion in the film's final moments, which are nonetheless powerful thanks to a mashup of Jerry Goldsmith music, scripture quotes and some good photography.

The other clever story arc finds Damien knowing the Christ child has been born again and wanting to kill every newborn male child born that day.

With direct impact on some of his closest allies and a spin on the Passover stories, it drives some nice suspense.

Of course viewers always came to the Omen films for some shocking, gruesome deaths, with each film trying to up the ante on the last on creative ways for Damien and his crew (human or animal) to drive people to their end.

There are some very gruesome examples here, including a dialogue-free , public suicide by an Ambassador, but other than that opening salvo in the "Faces of Death" sweepstakes, the creativity falls off rather sharply from past films.

This is the most adult and hardest R of the trilogy, with some strong sexuality thrown in.

Neill is very good as Damien, oozing arrogance and control. Lisa Harrow matches him as a TV reporter wrestling with a growing affection for Damien while growing uneasy with his feeling toward her son. Don Gordon is very good as Damien's right-hand minion and Mason Adams makes a strong impression as the American president.

A fox hunt sequence is a real highlight, with excellent photography by Phil Meheux (007's Casino Royale and Goldeneye) and Goldsmith's full orchestra score in great sync.

In the end, I think audiences were disappointed in the ending, which, after three films seems rather abrupt and anti-climactic.

It's as if the storytellers suddenly ran out of creative gas after a long and successful drive.

That being said, it still a decent film and a very respectable close to one of the best horror film series of the modern era.

The Final Conflict gets a B-.

Followed by a TV sequel "Omen IV: The Awakening" in 1991 and an unnecessary remake of the original film in 2006, 30 years after the first film.

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