By Mike Flaherty
Updated August 08, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

With his uplifting crusades in the 1956 epic The Ten Commandments and 1959’s Ben-Hur well behind him, and the counterculture-driven ’70s fast approaching, Charlton Heston put his penchant for Christlike heroism in the service of an unofficial dystopian trilogy beginning with the 1968 time-travel classic, Planet of the Apes. For some, however, his cornball intensity was perfected in the triptych’s final two installments. In The Omega Man, he plays Robert Neville, a scientist who believes he’s the lone survivor of a germ-warfare apocalypse. Heston battles a preposterous script and an army of pigment-deprived mutants called the Family, in the process bedding groovy stunner Rosalind Cash. In one hilarious extra amid the disc’s otherwise skimpy offerings, Chuck waxes profound with anthropologist Ashley Montagu in the featurette ”The Last Man Alive.”

Cynicism, despair, and strident environmentalism similarly inform Soylent Green, in which the gluttonous folly of mankind has left the greenhouse-effected earth unfertile, overpopulated, and sweltering. For a film that launched a thousand punchlines, Soylent stands up remarkably well, largely due to Richard Fleischer’s suitably stark direction. Heston is Gotham detective Robert Thorn, whose probe into the assassination of a whistle-blowing executive leads to a shocking discovery about the origin of the titular foodstuff of choice. (Talk about people who need people….) And though there may not be enough to eat in ravaged New York City circa 2022, the bombastic Heston has got plenty to chew on. Edward G. Robinson — in his final film role — plays Thorn’s friend, a researcher who can’t handle the damning truth and, in one of the film’s signature scenes, turns to socially sanctioned euthanasia. The crisp new print is a boon to those who’ve previously had to suffer through muted TV airings. Unfortunately, here too the extras are minimal, though Fleischer’s audio commentary does have a little bit of bite. Omega: C Soylent: