I AM LEGEND is a post-apocalyptic disaster film that is another attempt at adaptation of Richard Matheson's novel back in the early `50's. The first adaptation being "The Last Man on Earth" (1964) with Vincent Price and the cheesy but entertaining "Omega Men" (1971) with Charlton Heston. Being a remake, "I am Legend" leaves a lot to be desired with the unpredictability factor. However, with the current evolution in CGI effects, expectations would be high. "Legend" is the one version bestowed with a huge budget. I'll get right to the point; this wasn't faithful to the source material but still rather enjoyable for what it was.
A cure for cancer based on the Measles virus of old has achieved partial success. While it does cure the lethal disease, it was one side effect; it mutates human beings into vampire-like creatures that feed on human flesh. Military scientist Robert Neville (Will Smith) is left alone in New York with only a German Shepherd for company, for 3 years he has been looking for a cure but to no avail. Slowly, he is starting to give in to the pressure of being alone and hopelessness begins to sink in. Now, as new survivors surface, Neville is caught by surprise and finds a struggle within himself to remain optimistic in finding a cure or wonder if the human race has been snuffed out for good.
The direction by Francis Lawrence (Constantine) is competent enough to handle this kind of project. The first half of the film shows Neville and his dog, Sam in their daily routine. They try to battle boredom and mental collapse by hunting deers, driving around the "ghost city" looking for supplies and even renting videos, hitting golf balls off the East River. It was smart for the director to establish a rendezvous point for potential survivors alongside the river at noon everyday. Neville's loneliness is also emphasized that he has set up a certain spot where he had arranged mannequins as an attempt to simulate a crowd. It was very considerate of the director to consider certain emotions that can creep in when one is isolated in large Empty City with certain creatures lurking in the night. Along with the very delicate link of sanity Neville has to his dog, one can wonder how long a man left alone can last. Certain situation studies have been explored before in films such as "Castaway". Luckily, Neville has more company with a dog than just a volleyball, the dog certainly had more charisma than "Wilson the volleyball". The past is also shown in flashbacks as to what happened to Neville and New York.
The film's success also depends on how good the performance is of the lead actor. Will Smith has definitely matured as an actor since his days in "Fresh Prince". Smith's performance is pretty solid as the lead; while he mostly plays a reactionary role, he manages to express the needed emotions in the sequences that I felt his fears, thoughts and loneliness. Sure, there is still the usual snappy charisma that has become his trademark but he manages to sidestep that image and pulls off a very good performance. I am all for human drama about loneliness, but the film actually had some very intense sequences that grabbed me. Lawrence’s direction managed to hold on a balance between drama and action-thrills.
The film isn't perfect. There is a HUGE plot hole in the beginning of the last act and Neville's meeting with a survivor seemed a little too convenient that it's almost far-fetched. There are times that I felt that it almost came from left field. As for the creatures, the "Dark Seekers" have that charcoaled-grayish-dehydrated look that appeared a little fake (I guess I am just not fond of CGI). Thankfully, the characteristics of the creatures are more interesting; they are stronger and faster than the zombies in 28 DAYS LATER and a lot more feral-looking than most vampires we see on TV and other movies, and to make things worst for Neville, they are a lot smarter (they do have one major vulnerability). This intelligence was displayed with their observance of a "pack leader" and the ability to learn and imitate what they have seen. The “seekers” were decently developed in the screenplay; I also liked the idea that they maintain a semblance of their past humanity and they seem to recognize 'family' and certain 'pack' honor.
Unfortunately, the film didn't have the guts to follow through with its dark premise of pure despair of a lonely man in large city. It opted to settle for the usual heroics and while the film did have some emotional and intense sequences that redeemed it, it went on the direction of faith and Catholicism. While there may be nothing wrong in trying to emphasize human optimism and belief in a higher power, the conclusion was a little less satisfying and quite frankly, it collapsed in its predictability. "I Am Legend" carried a lot of potential but ultimately, it stumbles halfway through and lacked a very powerful climax. I am sad to say it fell just a little short of its truly majestic vision.
Recommended! [3 ½ Out of 5 Stars] Note: I enjoyed the film with the alternate ending in some ways but disliked it for other reasons.
This review was originally posted in amazon.com and has been edited and re-written for Lunch.com
In just a couple of years, cancer will be cured via a mutated version of the measles virus...reprogrammed to destroy cancer. Yet just three years after that, mankind will be all but extinct, as the virus has mutated yet again to where it either kills the person carrying it or turns that person into a type of light-fearing zombie set on eating living flesh of any kind. In Manhattan, the lone "normal" survivor is Dr. Robert Neville, who coincidentally was the military scientist who was madly … more
I wasn't sure what to expect going into "I Am Legend", but I can say that I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. It's almost like it is two movies -- Act I is "Last Man on Earth", Act II is the "horror" part. Without going into details, the movie really pulls you in and forces you to imagine how YOU would handle being without any other human contact. Despite the horror movie label, Will Smith does an excellent job of acting without the support of other actors to interact with. I … more
I dig on Will Smith. The dude has more onscreen charisma than a dude with lots of onscreen charisma. Yessir, the guy is a genuine, mega-buck making, sooper star. He is garnering his earnings, by providing us simple entertainment, where he saves the world. A lot. And we lap it up. But he couldn't save this remake of the 1971, Charlton Heston Classic, The Omega Man. The story focuses on Dr. … more
I think Will Smit did a great job playing this character. Being isolated and having to quote himself from Shrek to learn how to communicate with real peopl instead of mannequins! The only downside to this movie that I can think of is the orribly unrealistic animlas. They just look so fake and it gets annnoying watching the movie and then seeing that they are obviously not real or look remotely real. But anyways, overall, looking past the special animals and people, the movie was good. … more
I Am Legend is a famous book by Richard Matheson. The book has been adapted a couple of times. The version starring Will Smith is the most recent. However, I still have a love of the one starring Vincent Price (although that movie was called "The Last Man on Earth"). The version starring Will Smith is actually the first adaptation to actually use the name of Matheson's book. Will Smith gives a good performance, although there are some things that can … more
I love zombies and I love Will Smith. That said, this was still a top of the line zombie movie (which isn't easy!), and Smith was at his best. I cry every time I watch this (when he parts with his family and the dog scene). The special effects are top notch and the story is good, gripping, depressing and hopeful. A must see for everyone! Even those who don't love zombies or Will Smith! But really, how can you not?
I read I Am Legend when I was still at school, and it left me shell-shocked. The twist-ending concept used in Fight Club and The Sixth Sense is infinitely more effective in book form, and I found myself thinking about it for weeks. I won't spoil it here, but believe me it's a good one, and completely explains the title (which on my library-abused copy, looked like an extra space had crept in - I am Leg End?). Matheson's book had the hell kicked out of it in the super-cheesy Omega Man … more
In 2009, a vaccine for cancer caused a virus that turned nearly all of the people on earth into rabid, blood-thirsty, zombies. It is now 2012, and as far as Robert Neville (Will Smith) knows, he and his trusty dog are the only uninfected creatures in New York City. He spends his days watching DVDs, driving the deserted streets hunting for deer, and working in his laboratory, trying to find a cure for this horrible virus. No matter what, he has to be home by sundown, because that's when the zombies … more
In I AM LEGEND, Will Smith joins the ranks of Vincent Price (in 1964's THE LAST MAN ON EARTH) and Charlton Heston (in 1971's OMEGA MAN) as the star of an adaptation of Richard Matheson's 1954 novel of the same name. Often surprising in its focus on loneliness and loss, this thoughtful, eerie, and restrained sci-fi horror film provides a parade of startling visuals, but never allows special effects to overcome the human element. Smith, in a strong performance very different from his usual persona, is Robert Neville, the lone survivor in a New York City where streets are overgrown and deer gambol among deserted automobiles. Following an epidemic, the Earth's population has been turned into an army of nocturnal zombies. Immune to the virus, military scientist Neville searches for a cure in his Washington Square townhouse. Haunted by visions of his family leaving quarantined Manhattan two years prior, he drives through the city with his German Shepherd, Sam, by day and barricades his home from the monsters nightly. But when Anna (Alice Braga)--another immune stranger-finds him, they will have to fight the onslaught twice as hard. Akiva Goldsman and Mark Protosevich's emotionally-charged script showcases the charisma of Smith, who commands the screen alone for most of the picture (aside Abbey, a talented German Shepherd). Director Francis Lawrence (CONSTANTINE) uses music minimally, wisely allowing the eerie cityscapes to remain mostly silent. The set pieces, ...