367 of 417 people found the following review helpful
"Don't worry about a thing....",
"I Am Legend" is not a film that sticks closely to it's source material. While that is it's biggest flaw, it is also where it shines. If you ha told me two years ago that I'd get misty-eyed watching Will Smith sing "Three Little Birds" in a big budget motion picture I'd have laughed myself silly, but this adaptation of Richard Mathson's untouchable novel that -while itself being a vampire story- inspired the entire zombie film genre as we know it takes the story we all know whether we've read the book or not and turns it into an exceptionally personal affair for all of us. One man. One dog. A familiar metropolis deserted by day, but crawling with death by nightfall. This is our setting and it's one that never gets old for me.
The plague that wipes out Robert Neville's world is never fully explained, simply inferred to be the result of some sort of failed cure for cancer. Gone from the novel and the original Vincent Price classic, The Last Man on Earth, is the long struggle of Neville to save his ill daughter, his wife's tranformation, and the shocking actions of the US government to contain the plague. What it left is simply one man, alone trying to maintain his sanity and hopelessly searching for a cure to a disease that has already wiped humanity off the face of the earth and left the "survivors" as rabid vampiric horrors. It's sad, it's pathetic, and it's perfectly human. Will Smith has a penchant for picking terrible, schmaltzy films to star in, but no one can deny his talent and charisma as a leading man. Naturally, this is a film he must carry single-handedly and he does an awesome job of it; he's dramatic, he's relateable, and at times, he is funny. The humor is that of the dark and inappropriate kind, but in a world like his, that is all there is left.
The vampires/zombies/infected in this are all CG and more than a bit reminiscent of Gollum from The Lord of the Rings. I'm not a fan of these kind of effects when practical would have been more effective and was acutely aware of the fact that I watching computer-generated monsters, but they worked nonetheless. The infected prove to be terrifying foes for Neville to face, combining suprising cunning, inhuman strength, and impossible agility (hence the CG). Their only weakness is that sunlight kills them almost instantly. Neville plays a game of cat-and-mouse with them, gathering supplies, researching cure, and searching for survivors by day while making sure to get back to his fortified apartment before nightfall when the creatures come out to hunt for his hiding place. More than a few shades of 28 Days Later are present in this film, which is funny considering the book and it's film offspring are largely what provided the elements of that film. So I guess the genre has officially come full circle now.
Ultimately, it's the personal touches that make "I Am Legend" such a treat. Bob Marley provides both the soundtrack to Robert Neville's day and the inspiration for his work, which is both ironic and uplifting at times. This may sound strange for a horror flick, but if you are a fan of Marley (himself a Legend) it makes all the sense in the world as you watch. Watching Neville attempt to interact with mannequins he's set up as he returns the movies he rents (in alphabetical order, one at a time) and seeing him snap when one of the figures is moved is both amusing and, at times, intensely disturbing. When relief finally comes, Neville finds he has lost the ability to interact with other humans at all and is relegated to performing lines from "Shrek", which is playing on his television at the time. The ending is a complete 180 from the book which is disappointing, but not as corny as it could have been. The novel I Am Legend has one of the most brilliant and darkly ironic endings ever put on paper, but director Francis Lawrence didn't ruin it by go for the happy ending either. The result is a compromise between the pitch blackness of the book and the cloying cheese that many Will Smith fans love. It turns out a bittersweet and hopeful conclsion that should satisfy both while not thrilling either. But I left the theater with "Redemption Song" still ringing in my ears and a satisfied feeling. If only every movie could do that for me.
"I Am Legend" fails to adapt the book of the same name to the big screen, but succeeds in so many other ways. I can't give it a perfect score, but I will give it a very hearty recommendation to fans of Will Smith, zombies, vampires, and Bob Marley. Enjoy.
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Showing 1-10 of 55 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 16, 2007 3:19:10 PM PST
Free Thinker says:
Excellent review, well written and very helpful.
Posted on Dec 20, 2007 3:38:52 AM PST
Hey man, outstanding review! You've made me wanna read the book too. Hwood chickened out with the ending, huh? At least it didn't get too corny.
Happy Holidays trashcanman!
Posted on Dec 20, 2007 5:27:38 AM PST
Amanda Richards says:
Wow! I just GOTTA see this one!!
Congratulations on 100 excellent reviews
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 20, 2007 1:18:11 PM PST
Oh pshaw, 'tweren't nuthin'! (blushes)
This is a rare release that should satisfy most horror fans AND most mainstream movie-goers so consider it a must-see. I'm a public critic of both horror remakes and the PG-13 ratings often forced upon them, but this one really got the job done and coming from a long-time fan of the book, that's high praise. Especially considering how far the movie strays from Matheson's brilliant work.
Posted on Dec 25, 2007 6:30:05 PM PST
THE GHOST says:
Merry Christmas Trash!
Posted on Dec 29, 2007 8:34:04 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 29, 2007 8:34:22 PM PST
goo review, even if i don't necisarily agree with everything said in it. lol. havne't read the book yet (shame on me) but plan to soon. catch you later Mr Trash can man. ;)
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 2, 2008 12:24:22 AM PST
Yeah, most of my real life friends didn't care for it much either. But even if you hate the movie, the book is an absolute necessity for any fan of horror or sci-fi.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2008 9:06:19 AM PST
you mean i'm not a real life friend? ;)
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 3, 2008 10:03:44 PM PST
In the sense that we haven't met in real life. Do you need a cyber hug?