on 1 May 2008
Just to add a little note to go with other comments - I thought the film was good in its own right, but changed too many things from the book for my own liking... The ending and subsequent twisting of the 'legend' meaning from the one in the book was a bit trite, I thought. I have since found the alternative ending, which I much prefer. It is available on the web (search for it) and also on the 2-disk edition (apparently).
I would recommend getting the 2-disk edition just for the alternative ending, which adds a layer or two to the story that the original theatrical ending didn't even hint at.
I would recommend the book strongly if you want a much more than usually thoughtful take on the vampire/zombie take-over idea.
BBC radio also broadcast a full reading of the book a while back, so look out for that being re-broadcast - it was very good.
on 8 February 2008
I was really looking forward to seeing "I Am Legend", from the moment I found out earlier this year. In preparation to seeing the movie, I watched Vincent Price in "The Last Man on Earth" and Charlton Heston in "The Omega Man". Even though the main ideas of the two prior versions were the same (last man, virus, night creatures, etc.), the delivery varied for their particular time. So I was intrigued to see how the storyline would be adapted to our time.
The first thing that struck me was the set. Growing up in New York City, it really hit me hard to see the devastation and isolation of the city that "Never Sleeps". The streets, the abandoned cars, the bridges, the U.N.,etc. It really hit home. Then we see a much slender, leaner Will Smith trying to cope with the fact that he was alone. His portrayal of Robert Neville is great. Very moving. I find the origin of the virus quite interesting as it comes as a side effect for a cure for cancer. The prior two movies used a plague (The Last Man on Earth) and germ warfare (The Omega Man) to explain the virus. The use of a cure that transforms into a virus gives it an ironic twist.
The film opens well, and continues that way until the introduction of the other two human characters, but that's about an hour or more of Smith, alone in Manhattan after a genetically-altered version of the measles has either killed or mutated the rest of humanity into super-violent creatures who prey on those unaffected, but only at night. They're killed almost instantly when exposed to sunlight. Smith, playing Robert Neville, was an Army Lieutenant before the virus was unleashed three years prior, and he spends his lonely days walking and stalking on the grown-in streets of Manhattan with his dog, Sam. At night, he locks himself in his apartment and attempts to find a cure. It's interesting seeing Smith carry the movie with only himself, Sam, some various wild animal species, and some mannequins. He does an excellent job, and I'm sure that's not an easy task for an actor. This is easily the most likable character he's ever played, and he brings a lot of great stuff to it, including humor and a scene that had me on the verge of tears.
Will Smith and the strength of the story outweigh the two mot glaringly bad things about this film. However, the creature effects are WAY too over-reliant on CGI, but then again, so are most horror films these days, so you might be used to it. Animatronics and foam rubber latex effects pioneered well over thirty years ago look a lot more believable than this cartoonish junk. And the other thing is the ending. It's not terrible, and it won't make you dislike the rest of the film, but the original story's ending is very sad and ironic, and this, like the other two adaptations, just can't seem to cope with the magnitude of the situation, so they always leave you with something WAY to hopeful for what we've seen throughout the rest of the film, and also, it seems that they're afraid to teach you the incredible lesson the original Matheson story had to offer. This is a good adaptation of Richard Matheson's 'I Am Legend.' So far, none of the three have nailed it, due to the inability to just use the story's ending, but this one comes close and is certainly one of the best of the three (the other two are good flicks so I recommend them all).
on 7 September 2009
This film got a lot of bad press when it first came out, but I'm a big fan of post-apocalyptic worlds so decided to check it out. Fortunately I bought the 2-disc edition; if I had only bought the single-disc my rating of this film would be a lot lower.
Why? Well, the 2 discs are essentially different films. Disc 1 is the version shown in the cinema, which is great up until the last half hour when any semblance of plot, logic or good writing is thrown out the window in exchange for lots of death and big explosions.
Disc 2, however, is the *director's cut* version of the film: while 90% of the film is exactly the same, that final 10% makes all the difference. Having watched through both, it's obvious that this is how the director/writer intended the film to be all along. No doubt somewhere along the way the studio said "this ending makes people think; get rid of it and just put a big explosion instead." (Don't you just love it when Hollywood does that?)
My advice would be to throw Disc 1 away as soon as you open the case and just watch Disc 2. It ties up loose ends in the plot, answers questions raised earlier in the film, and also engages your brain just enough for it to excrete that little feeling of 'I've done something thought-provoking, so feel less guilty about vegetating in front of the TV for the last two hours.'
That is, of course, unless unanswered questions and plot holes don't bother you and you would much rather see things go boom, in which case stick with Disc 1.
on 2 March 2009
I was in two minds whether to give this a go for one reason it had Will Smith as the leading actor. I have never been a big fan of his but I will say I am glad I did because I thought he was brillant in this. His friend Sam the dog was great as well, as for the rest of the cast there wasn't really any. There was some great camera work and special effects which resulted into some great scenes of empty streets etc and the zombies / creatures were brillant. It reminded of the film 28 Days at the very start of this and comparing the two I would give 28 Days the nod on the empty streets etc. My only moan in the film was the ending it was very average which let the film down slightly but, if you haven't seen this give it a go it is well worth a watch if you can pick it cheap.
on 28 February 2008
When I first heard of another movie adaptaion of the "I am Legend" book I had high hopes. Will Smith has made some excellent movies throughout his career (Wild, Wild West aside!), and is a likeable leading man. All the early preview reviews seemed positive, so it was with some disapointment that I left the cinema shaking my head upon its release. The reasons for my consternation... the ending! I fully realises why Hollywood makes changes to some adaptations of books, but in this case it seems an absolute travesty to change it so massively. The book contains what I hold to be one of the best gut wrenching endings ever written. I dont totally hate this movie, it has some nice touches, but to so fundementally change the stories ending I'm suprised they were allowed to call it "I am Legend". **Update 21/5/08** The "alternative" ending show cased on this version of the DVD release doesnt improve things for me... its an ending further removed from the book than the one on the theatrical release version! In closing, its an okay movie, but I implore you.... PLEASE PLEASE READ THE BOOK!
I like a good science fiction film and rented this out a few years back. Despite some reservations about the second half of the film, overall I think it works and represents one of the better examples of the genre in recent years. It's an adaptation of Richard Matheson's 1954 book of the same name (and it departs from the book a fair bit)
Will Smith plays Dr. Robert Neville a former US Military doctor, seemingly alone in New York bar his trusty dog companion "sam". We see a scene of devastation in the city and it's devoid of other humans, though at night there are "infected" people who roam the streets (they burn in daylight so hide during this time) We see a series of flashbacks showing events leading up to the outbreak, and learn a virus has infected most of the planets population, though Robert remains immune to it.
Robert has a routine in his day, despite being on his own bar his dog he makes trips to the video store, watches recorded TV footage and tries to maintain as much as possible an existence that is some way to being normal given the circumstances. But he has not given up hope and continues to work on a cure for the infection, and makes daily broadcasts via radio to try to find other "survivors". I won't spoil the rest of the plot for new viewers, just to say there are encounters with the infected and Robert eventually finds another survivor.
You'd be forgiven for thinking this is "just another tiresome zombie flick" but that's a little unfair. I'd call it a "thinking person's zombie film" Direction is good, and the scenes are convincing in portraying the devastation of the city and environment. I have no real complaints with the story either, it makes for solid viewing. Opinions are a bit divided on the second half of the film, some feel the intelligent aspect takes a back seat to the zombie action, and I'd agree with that to a point the film could have been a slower burn more analytical movie as it is in the first half.
Will Smith gets into the role well though, and you can certainly feel the isolation in the city. The ending doesn't come as a huge surprise, many will prefer the alternative ending which offers a slightly less obvious way to conclude the film. Well worth a watch though and despite some flaws makes for fairly strong viewing.
on 8 December 2010
When this film was released in 2007, I had no idea that it was in fact a remake. The screenplay was adapted from a novel by Richard Matheson, which was written in 1954. It was first seen on the big screen in 1964's "The Last Man On Earth", and then again in 1971's "Omega Man". Over 25 years later, reverting to the original title of the book, Will Smith stars in director Francis Lawrence's futuristic take on "I Am Legend". Smith is now an actor in possession of an Oscar, and having to carry the weight of this film alone was always going to prove to be a huge test. Personally, I like Smith, but I prefer his more comedic side, as to date I have not been convinced that he can play it totally straight, and as Robert Neville, a sole survivor of a viral epidemic living in New York, Smith needs to do just that, because jokes have no place here.
The film starts with a mammoth revelation that a cure has been found for cancer, based on the measles virus. The person behind this discovery, is the aptly named Dr Krippen, played by Emma Thomson. Fast forward 3 years to 2012, and it is soon clear that all is not well. This element of the story is told through flashbacks, and we see that the so called cure has come close to wiping out human existence. We see Neville sending his wife and child to what he hopes is a safe place, while he stays back with only the family dog Sam for company. The safe place never materialised, and Neville deals with this guilt on a daily basis. We soon discover that zombies rule after dark and during the day, military scientist Neville is on the hunt for the cure that will bring life back to some sort of normality. I wonder if this was really the vision Matheson had over 50 years ago.
I always find the empty streets of a main city such as New York (Vanilla Sky) or London (28 Days Later) really eerie, and they really strengthen the impact of the loneliness and loss felt by the survivor(s). The lack of music in these scenes is also a clever move from the director, as it adds to ambience. The take on how the city would look without the workers who take care of it daily was interesting....would weeds really come up through the cracks in the pavements? We see Neville make a daily radio broadcast for any fellow survivors, then going about his daily life. It is hard to even imagine how stifled you would feel, even though you had all of the space to yourself. To be honest, I believe someone in this position would most likely go insane, and not be as disciplined and focused for the length of time this character is. There are glimpses of that when he has full conversations with mannequins, but he does not stay in this mindset for long. For much of the film, Smith is alone until he meets fellow survivor Alice (Anna Braga). They have both escaped the virus as they are immune, and the key to Neville's research is discovering where and how people become immune, hence the need to use a lot of his blood to carry out these tests.
In terms of the film being a scary thriller, I felt it lacked in the scare element. There was only a brief revelation which made me jump slightly but other than that there was nothing visual, and certainly no mind games designed to scare you. That aside, the special effects and CGI where the zombies are concerned are very clever. Running at 1 hour 41 minutes, the film left me feeling a little cheated and disappointed. It was nothing to do with Smith's performance, which was very watchable, and which I thoroughly enjoyed. He is not the typical action hero, and he plays the emotion of the role well. It was the film as a whole, and more specifically the rushed and most unsatisfying ending. The pace just felt too slow, and it plodded through to the without really making me think or form much of an opinion. The ending came so out of the blue, it was like the writers got bored and decided to down tools! However, as the saying "not if you were the last man on earth" does not apply in this case, because Smith is a very fine specimen, so last man or not he would have a chance with me!!!!
on 28 April 2008
I was a big fan of the original graphic novel, in which the flowing story and the gradual build up of tension in a horror setting made it a good read, this coupled with the great twist at the end of the book which involved the woman. The movie decided to ignore the best part of the graphic novel and ended up making it a "safe" legend at the end, and not the thought provoking ending to the graphic novel.
As it has been stated several times on other reviews, the first half of the movie was far superior to the 2nd part of it - this is down to the scene being set, and Smith pretty much acting on his own with Sam the dog - his only companion in a deserted and dead New York. Smith is a fine actor and it is more apparent as he is doing the film virtually single handed, his character and emotive acting ability shines through as you are concentrating purely on him. The CGI on the vampires was great in the dark areas (especially when Smith lost his dog in the labyrinth of an apartment block) but once you could see the vampires in semi-moonlight, they were more XBox360 bad guys than multi million dollar special effects. It was all a bit far fetched that Smith was a doctor and army colonel who was an expert in studying the virus, and he alone seemed to be the only one who survived in New York when everyone else died or changed. The ending as well was a bit rushed and could have been so much more.
All in all, 3 out of 5 - the hype did not equal the finished product.
on 9 April 2008
Having not read the book or seen the other film i was able to approach I am Legend with quite an open mind and take it for what it was.
For anyone that has seen 28 days later it is very similar in concept to that - the desolate street scenes are absoutely amazing - to see New York as a wilderness with deer and lions roaming and Will Smith driving around in a Chevvie is no easy feat.
I would say that the film definitely crosses a few different genres of film from the disaster movie angle to horror and sci-fi. There are a couple of scenes which are pant-wettingly scary - I dare anyone not to be scared by the amazing acting of Will Smith as he wanders into the pitch black in search of his dog and we see glimpses of the virus for the first time!
The only let down for this film is that all of the infected have been created using CGI; and the standard isn't that amazing - especially when you consider the amount of money spent on making this film in the first place!
All in all though, well worth a watch and definitely worth having on blu ray to watch from behind the couch and/or cushions!
on 25 September 2010
There's much that is good to be said about this film. Will Smith's performance is top-knotch. The photography its direction are excellent; they way that the outdoor images constantly remind us of the time of day - an important aspect of this story - maintains the tension the film requires. The script captures well the effect of isolation and sense of guilt on the central character, Robert Neville. I loved the relationship between Neville and his dog, Sam. For all these things I'm awarding this film 3 stars for being a superior entry in the "small group surviving among a population of monsters" genre. Compare it with, say, "Resident Evil".
The film would have picked up the remaining stars, though, if it had remained true to Richard Matheson's novella. In the book infected humanity are not raging monsters. They are more akin to vampires. The virus has been in action for much longer than three years and infected humans have started to breed. They are intelligent, rational and form family units. The title "I Am Legend" comes from the central character's realisation that, coming in the "night" and killing and taking family members he has become the "monster". There were frustrating hints that the film was going to go that way when the infected man (the captured woman's husband) comes screaming into the daylight and when Neville is trapped by a snare. Too bad they bottled out and took the "Omega Man" route.