I Am Legend

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Here's my review of I Am Legend, which I saw at a Midnight showing last night. Pretty good film; whatever disappointment I might have can be put down to the fact that I had very high hopes for this film. It didn't meet them, but I'd still recommend it. Very interesting, ambitious film.

I Am Legend

There are countless films about catastrophe. Since Independence Day blew up The White House with a giant laser beam, audiences have been subjected to an endless array of big-budget disaster flicks whose primary focus has been destroying famous landmarks. I Am Legend is a film about what happens when the dust has settled.

The film opens in 2009 with footage from a news program discussing what appears to be a cure for cancer. We then jump forward to an isolated view of New York City overlaid with the caption "Three Years Later." Plant life is slowly making its way through downtown and animals frolic freely on the streets. The leap forward is bold and brilliant, and the film will spend the rest of its runtime filling in little bits and pieces of what happened in-between.

Of course, New York isn't completely uninhabited; its occupants are Robert Neville (Will Smith), a former Army scientist, and Sam, his dog. They spend their days patrolling the city, and their nights holed up inside Neville's house, while unmentionable creatures shriek outside. These creatures, we learn, have a virus; a mutated version of the "cure" from the opening. The film wisely refrains from explaining its mechanics in further detail.

The first third of the film is spent showing us Neville's daily routine. He hunts deer on the sidewalks, restocks supplies, and performs experiments on animals infected with the virus. Though most of this is relatively uneventful, it's fascinating to see the monument to survival and efficiency that Neville has constructed now that he seems to have the world to himself.

Seeing as how he's a little short on co-stars, the film is squarely on Smith's shoulders, and his work as Neville is inspired. Already a superstar, Smith figures to entrench his place in Hollywood's uppermost stratosphere with this effort. He apparently based his performance on Tom Hanks' role in Cast Away , and most viewers will notice the similarities. Both actors vividly illustrate the effect of the unfathomable loneliness inflicted on their characters. Of course, it's a little easier to explore your character's psyche when you've got something to talk to. Hanks had a volleyball, and Smith has his dog.

The film does have its flaws. Jarring sounds and "jump" scenes are used excessively, and while the rendering of New York as empty and overrun with wildlife is virtually flawless, the infected creatures themselves fall well short of the quality we've come to expect from such a high-profile release. They're a bizarre blend between zombie and vampire and, while genuinely creepy, are not especially well-realized.

I Am Legend is the fourth adaptation of a 1954 novel of the same name, and probably the furthest removed from the source material. It abandons a good deal of the book's premise, though oddly enough it retains various bits of foreshadowing that indicate it might be heading down the same path. Unfortunately, none of the hints and overtures go anywhere, and a message about faith is oddly shoehorned into the film's second half.

Despite these red herrings, and the film's occasional lack of polish, I Am Legend remains patient and intriguing throughout. Every scene forces us to imagine ourselves in Neville's place, and there's genuine tension as to how it will all end. It's a film that aims high, falls a bit short, but still does the most important thing for a film to do: captivate us for its duration.

Thanks for the review Yoda, I may actually make it outside long enough to go see this this weekend (will wonders never cease?). I am a little confused though, isn't this the third adaptation from the book I Am Legend? And the first time it actually used the title of the book? There's the Vincent Price version and the Charlton Heston version, what's the third one?

Any way looks good to me, I like these kind of flicks.
We are both the source of the problem and the solution, yet we do not see ourselves in this light...

It looked like he picked up Omega Man at the DVD place. One of the best parts imo was the shrek part.

I also have a review of this in my thread.

See, this is why we call you an idiot and give you crap. You make a statement like that then back it up in absolutely no way. HOW do you think these two movies with only very, passing basic similarities are "pretty damn similar"?

Thanks for the review Yoda, I may actually make it outside long enough to go see this this weekend (will wonders never cease?). I am a little confused though, isn't this the third adaptation from the book I Am Legend? And the first time it actually used the title of the book? There's the Vincent Price version and the Charlton Heston version, what's the third one?
There was a straight-to-video adaptation called I Am Omega released just this year, I believe. I haven't seen it, but it sounds pretty terrible. And, the more I read about it, I think that, rather than this version, might actually be the furthest removed from the source material.

Is that right? Yeah I bet it's pretty bad, sadly I will probably add that to my bad movie pile, which is substantial. That's just how I roll. I'm thinking I'm going to get the book too at some point. 4 movies? I would hope that means the book is pretty good yeah?

Originally Posted by meatwadsprite
this is why i call you an idiot - because you said "no it isn't" - what a well backed up statement
To be fair, you're the one who made the initial claim, so the burden of proof is on you. All the moreso because, well, I think it's clear most people would disagree, including myself.

There's really nothing similar about them except that they both depict a society which has fallen apart; and even then, not even to the same degree. Saying they're similar is like saying Raiders of the Lost Ark and National Treasure are similar because they both involve treasure.

In Soviet America, you sue MPAA!
In fact, by the time it was over I was angry that they even bothered to use the name I Am Legend. The name has everything to do with the original story. It is the crown atop everything. In this new one it is just convenient.

I Am Legend and Children of Men are highly similar.

Both have ruined societies with "few" survivors - when the island was being closed off it's exactly like how people are closed out of England - both feature worn down landscapes - both of them have torn apart families - both capture some sort of isolation - both have suspensefull action scenes

and the ending

The Adventure Starts Here!
Okay, no posting the ending here, but aside from that ...

Although you listed a bunch of similarities, they're the type of thing that could be said of probably fifty or sixty OTHER movies as well. Meaning that your similarities are too generic.

OG-, I will be starting the book/novella tonight. It's been staring at me since it arrived here Wednesday but I haven't had any spare time till today. (And even that is just spare time I'm taking for myself no matter what.) :)

I'm going to give you kudos meatwad, all this talk about similarities between Children of Men (which I love) and I Am Legend is helping get me out the door to go see it tonight. First we go look at Christmas lights then we go to zee movie house.

This is only the second movie I've gone to see in the theater this year. Transformers being the other.

28 Weeks Later has all those things, to name just one off the top of my head.

But I don't grant that all those things happened in both those movies to begin with. There were not "few" survivors in Children of Men. There were people everywhere. There was basically none of the feeling of isolation and loneliness that was pervasive in I Am Legend. That isolated feeling was more a part of the film that any of the circumstances that led to it.

This, I think, gets to the heart of most of the disagreements you've been involved in: an overt focus on plot details and events, rather than tone. Movies can be about similar things, but invoke very different feelings about it, and thus be very different films. I Am Legend and Children of Men are a good example of that principle.

In Soviet America, you sue MPAA!
No, you are wrong, Yoda. I Am Legend and Children of Men are not good examples of movies being about similar things, but invoking different feelings.

I Am Legend and Children of Men have absolutely nothing in common. Nothing whatsoever. COM is about a society in ruins, not a ruined society. Ruined implies finality, the -ed meaning it is in the past and over with. COM is also not about a virus. It is also not about mutation. It is also not about science gone wrong. It is also not about isolation. It is also not about the last man on earth. it is also not about how people are closed out of England.

My God. I don't know what is more staggering, the differences between the two, the complete lack of similarities or the fact that a human being with a brain at least functional enough to use a computer can correlate two completely unrelated concepts.