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Review of I Am Legend (2007) PG-13 101min

December 29th, 2007 by Maxim · 5 Comments · 7,027 Views

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I Am LegendThis movie may become the legend of the box office success: it’s been in theaters for two weeks now and it’s still selling out.

The plot: Brilliant scientist Robert Neville (Will Smith) may be the only survivor of the human-engineered virus that wiped out almost entire population of the Earth. 99% of people dies from the virus at once, the others turned into carnivorous monsters who hide in the dark. Somehow he happened to be immune to the virus, and he’s trying to use his own blood to find the cure for the virus in the medical lab he set up in the basement of this house, while trying to survive all alone in the city of New York that hasn’t seen another human for 3 years. He knows he is outnumbered and he completely lost faith in ever meeting another human being; the time and hope are running out.

I Am Legend (2007)The first half of the movie is basically “Cast Away“: Will Smith… oh, I mean Robert Neville, is a sole survivor of the virus, and his only friend is his dog. Throughout the movie there are several flashbacks that tell the story of how the virus came to be, the devastation it had caused, and the story of Neville’s family. The only thing that keeps him sane is his dog and his work: he had a very sophisticated medical laboratory in his house. He lives of loot he finds in abandoned houses and hunting. Every day he broadcasts a message to possible survivors on the radio, but after three years, he has no hope left. He even has imaginary friends – manikins at the video rental store.

The second half is all suspense: the infected humans are after him. Before I saw the movie I heard it was pretty bloody and expected flesh-eating zombie gore and blood splatters everywhere like in horror movies such as “The Night Of The Living Dead” and “28 Days Later“. But it was anything but. Of course, there was some zombie killing and chases, but it wasn’t as violent as I thought. That, by the way, may have been an idea: the director knew what viewers would expect and played a joke on them, or perhaps didn’t want to follow the usual cliche. Anyway, everyone expected the zombies to jump out from the dark, but all you really hear is the sounds of them zombies. This is not a horror movie. It’s a very suspenseful sci-fi movie.

The good: everyone is talking about Will Smith’s amazing performance. This is definitely NOT the best dramatic performance, but it’s quite good. I think Will was better in the real, non-fictional human drama in last year’s “The Pursuit of Happiness”. But he clearly enjoyed making this movie, especially he is the only actor in about 80% of the film. He tried to do his best. Another great thing about him movie is recreation of the environment of the city that was populated by ten million people and now was abandoned – a ghost town. There were some cool CGIs such as elk and lions. There also is a moral in the movie, which is that road to hell is paved with good intentions and that best intentions may have unexpected deadly consequences. Nice sound track. There was a reference to Shrek.

The bad: zombies looked too CGI and too artificial. As much as virus can modify human behavior and tissues, it cannot modify the anatomy that much to turn humans into Mummies (from the movie called “The Mummy“). Obviously, there were some discontinuities and goofs, but they aren’t “in your face” obvious.

The summary: pretty good sci-fi adventure/action movie with a lot of suspense created by flesh-eating zombies lurking in the shadows. See it in theatres, better yet on the bigger screen in I-MAX, and it’s worth owning on DVD in HD, because you’d want to see it again.

The film has won two nominations for awards, but in strange categories: Best Sound Mixing/Editing, and Best Performance… by stunt team.

Credits. Director: Francis Lawrence | Writers: Mark Protosevich, Akiva Goldsman | Based on novel by Richard Matheson | 1971 screenplay: John William Corrington & Joice Hooper Corrington | Warner Bros. Pictures

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Tags: Action · Adventure · Drama · Movies · Sci-Fi · Thrillers/Suspense

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5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Todd Yoshikawa // Dec 31, 2007 at 1:05 pm

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    Just saw this myself this past weekend. This was based on a novel called “The Last Man On Earth”, which was made into two previous movies, one with the same name (starring Vincent Price), and one called “The Omega Man” (starring Charlton Heston). I haven’t seen these previous two versions, but now I’m curious to see them for comparison’s sake. This version was entertaining enough, although it felt more like a vehicle to show off Will Smith’s acting and physique than a science fiction story. Based on its initial success, it should probably be renamed to “Will Smith Is Legend”.

  • 2 Tom // Jan 5, 2008 at 10:44 pm

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    I just saw this movie. I initially thought it was good, but it’s one of those movies that more you think about, the more holes you poke in the story. I’m skeptical as to the organizational skills of the darkseekers. I also wonder how they could survive with such a high body temp and fast heart rate. The darkseekers are basically rip offs of 28 days later and as with that movie I’m left with one question… why don’t they attack each other?

  • 3 Maxim // Jan 6, 2008 at 11:03 am

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    Tom, that’s why it’s called “flesh-eating zombie genre”. When did that sort of movies ever made sense? They are created for the sole purpose of something growling jumping out of the dark and somebody kicking their asses with a big gun, kung-fu or de-moleculizing grenades whilst also growling, grinding teeth and yelling “die, mother trucker!”

  • 4 Todd Yoshikawa // Jan 7, 2008 at 10:40 am

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    Further research (i.e., reading IMDB posts), has indicated that the original book “I Am Legend” was actually supposed to be a scientific explanation as to how vampires could have existed (or could exist in the future). Therefore, it would seem that this movie deemphasized that aspect of the book and chose to focus more on Dr. Neville and how someone in his situation would try to survive. I guess the audience was just supposed to obediently accept the fact that the zombies/vampires existed as a semi-organized society. Supposedly, the original novel ended with Dr. Neville becoming one of the vampires, not just physically but being assimilated into their society.

  • 5 Blogtimmy // Feb 20, 2008 at 7:50 pm

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    I really wasn’t grabbed by this movie when I was watching it, but just when I was thinking how slow it was, it picked up. Not just in pace but in the depth of issues. I explored it a little in my own movie review. One example is the diatribe about Bob Marley. I can’t go into all the detail, but I loved the idealism of Marley that combined with the idiosyncrasies of the good Dr. Neville.
    My take is at http://www.deepflix.blogspot.com/

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