While a swarm of problems infest "I Am Legend," I must admit I was quite taken with the film's sensation of misery and isolation. Typically, a Will Smith genre film is a noisy monster, equipped with endless one-liners and explosions. However, "Legend" is introspective and paranoid. It's almost worth a ticket just to witness a wildly marketed, blockbuster film remain so still and mannered.
When a cure for cancer mutates, killing off 90 percent of the planet, Robert Neville (Will Smith), a military scientist, is left alone in New York City with his dog, hoping with every passing year that he can reverse the mutation. Slowly drained of his sanity and growing weary of battling the vampire-like creatures that attack during the night, Neville is losing hope that his nightmare will end. When other survivors start to surface, the revelation stuns Neville, who finds his struggle to remain optimistic is in constant battle with his knowledge that humanity has likely been snuffed out for good.
"I Am Legend" is the third attempt to bring Richard Matheson's 1954 novel to the big screen, coming after the 1964 Vincent Price production "The Last Man on Earth," and the 1971 Charlton Heston curiosity, "The Omega Man." "Legend" is perhaps the first film to be blessed with a budget large enough to render the extensive isolation Neville is facing, the absence of community that slowly eats away at his soul.
Director Francis Lawrence ("Constantine") is a skilled enough stylist to pull off the visual majesty of "Legend," and the finest moments of the picture are easily the sequences of Neville and dog Sam driving around the city streets, interacting with a world frozen in 2009. Hunting deer or shooting golf balls into buildings, Neville has the world to himself in the daytime, employing careful street choreography honed over three years of seclusion. It's a game of boredom and survival, and the balance between the two is where "Legend" finds the strongest dramatic flavor, carefully studying Neville's brittle sanity while upping the tension with the menacing "Dark Seekers" and their escalating aggression toward the viral survivors.
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For the rest of this Review by Brian Ormdorf, go here.
`I Am Legend' Has Record $77 Million December Sales
Weekend Ranking: US Movie Houses
1. I Am Legend
2. Alvin and Chipmunks
3. Golden Compass
NVDL: I am very excited about this film, not least of all because it stimulates and inspires along the lines of another post-Apoc story I've recently embarked upon. Titled Fire, Ice and the Whole Wide World, I intend to explore and render the isolation and dismantling of community in a gritty, austere story. So far I have cave-dwelling Luc van Lierde (based on the real Ironman Wiorld champion) pitting his triathlon skills into a new game: kill or be killed by roaming survivors. Fellow human beings turn out to be the most dangerous predators in the world, and he is forced to become his most dangerous self. Is it worth it? Meanwhile, against this war within and without, the world paints itself in blindingly white sun, a light that cools and is dimmed by almost permanent rain. The rain turns to snow, and the snow to ice. It is in this bleak world that van Lierde finds himself completely, utterly, miserably alone. It is then that he stumbles upon a small tribe of female survivors, and their pregnant patriarch...
This weekend I watched Star Wars, Revenge of the Sith and it really must be the best sci-fi movie ever made, in terms of the feast of visuals. The plot is not great, but not bad. It is a pity Lucas has quit (or has he?). It would be great if he re-rendered the next 3 movies, starting with A New Hope, which while some see as classics, could obviously be jazzed up a lot with today's technology. And then the final 3 Star Wars films?
I also found the political undertones in Revenge of the Sith very intelligent: 'if you're not with me you're my enemy' (eliciting George Bush), the law of absolutes (Bush again), and the simple use of passion to sway the masses astray. And what does Natalie Portman say: Padme: So this is how liberty dies - with thunderous applause. It ends though in a frigid wasteland.