Written by Mark Protosevich and Akiva Goldsman
Directed by Francis Lawrence
Running Time: 1:40
for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence.
I Am Legend was a good movie with some exciting visuals and some truly heart-pounding scenes.
In 2009, one doctor has found what she believes is the cure for cancer. Within 6 months however, the world finds out that she hasn't cured cancer as much as unleashed a virus that will eventually kill almost everyone on Earth. It's now 2012 and Dr. Robert Neville is the only known survivor left in New York. Each day he sets out to find a cure for the virus, accompanied only by his faithful dog Sam. During the day he lives alone in the city, driving fast cars, shooting random deer and playing golf off the back of aircraft carriers. At night he lives in fear of the other human creatures left - the dark seekers - who can not survive in daylight, and love the taste of human flesh.
I realized last night after seeing I Am Legend that part of the enjoyment of a movie comes from your surroundings. I was lucky enough to go to the premiere last night and Will Smith and Tom Cruise were both there. How can you not enjoy a movie with those two sitting in the audience with you? Our seats were bad and the angle I saw the movie was awful, but in some ways it helped the creepiness factor because it was harder to see what was happening. When I woke up this morning I thought more about the movie and came to the conclusion that it wasn't as great as I thought it was last night, but it was still pretty good. For the most part, the film has Will Smith alone with a dog. So if you don't like Will Smith, you should probably stay clear of I Am Legend. That being said, I thought he did a fine job as the last man on the planet. It can't be easy shooting scenes without any human interaction. That made for some funny and touching scenes, because his character set up a bunch of mannequins at a local video store for him to 'talk' to on a daily basis. And as a supporting character, the dog was fantastic, getting all the emotion from an audience you could hope for.
The story starts of very quickly. It goes from a woman doctor announcing the cure for cancer to a spectacular shot of a completely abandoned New York City. The New York visuals were arguably the best things about the film. It was amazing to see a city that normally has millions of people wandering around, reduced to nothing. The streets were filled with roaming animals. Grass grew seemingly everywhere. Neville, in his three years alone, was able to go from house to house, looking for supplies. He had done a good job with his own house, setting up generators to power everything he could ever want. All in all, I was impressed with the job the film crew did to make New York empty.
But the movie isn't all fun and games. The dark seekers are some creepy people and they'll pop out at you when you most expect it, which doesn't reduce the scares at all. They looked mostly CGI, but every one of them seems to have a credit on IMDB, which makes me wonder if I just couldn't see them clearly. I wasn't completely impressed with the creature effects so that took away from my enjoyment of the film a little. There was also never any real explanation of how a cure for cancer turned into a killer virus. I guess it was just one of those things we're supposed to accept. But considering one of the main story elements was Neville trying to find a cure, it would have been nice to maybe hear some science. The movie (without closing credits) was only around 91 minutes, so there was certainly time to throw in some more exposition. We do get to see flashbacks to what took place when people realized the virus was killing people, so there is some back story, but I could have used some more.
The action sequences were fast and intense and rather scary. More than once I saw the audience jump out of their seats. There's no question this movie can scare you. It will also make you laugh and make you cry. So from that perspective, the movie has a little bit of everything. But in the end, the movie rests on the large shoulders of Will Smith. I know about 10 years ago this movie almost got made with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the lead. I can't say it would have been a bad movie, but it would have been different. Schwarzenegger's version of the film would have likely been more action heavy. Will Smith on the other hand is a very likeable actor so they use his ability to bring emotion out of every scene to make a film that was dramatic as well as having a lot of action. I can't honestly think of another actor right now that could have pulled the role off as well.
The Widescreen edition of the DVD comes with one extra - a set of four animated comic book stories. They take place on four different points on the planet and show what the rest of the world was going through during this epidemic. The second one, which takes place mostly in Colorado, and the final one, which takes place in New Delhi, were the two most interesting. The final one was written by acclaimed science fiction author Orson Scott Card. There are a bunch of documentaries, including one very interesting one on the science of the movie, but in order to access them, you have to watch the DVD on your computer. I'm not quite sure why they couldn't have put these on the DVD for easier viewing.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I enjoyed I Am Legend. I may have liked it more because of where I was when I saw it, but upon reflection it still holds up pretty well. There were some things I would have liked to have understood more, but from a pure moviegoing experience, this one is worth seeing.
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