I Am Legend B-
Starring Will Smith
Directed by Francis Lawrence (Constantine)
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence
Appropriate for ages 15+
The Story: A virus developed through cancer research kills off over 90% of the world’s population. Those who are immune fall into two groups: normal humans and night stalking zombies. Will Smith is a Doctor researching this disease at ground zero: Manhattan. He is the only normal person left on the island and must hide himself every night so that he is not killed by the creatures that he is trying to save through his research. Alone with only his dog, a German Shepherd named Sam, he looks for food and survivors by dawn, and fears for his life at dusk.
The Good: The first half of the film is absolutely horrifying. Almost too much so. The isolation, combined with impending doom makes this a difficult film to stomach at first. While Smith is charismatic and the relationship with his dog sustains most of the picture, you still find yourself scared silly. In this regard, the film is very successful. Also, the special effects with the destruction and isolation of New York are very impressive.
The Bad: I don’t wish to be the one to give anything away, but the film goes downhill fast after the climactic scene. Smith’s character slips into a depression and the film follows right behind him. It’s no longer a fun monster movie, but rather a serious bummer. While it may be true to the original novel, that still doesn’t make the film fun to watch.
I don’t want to sit back and compare Will Smith films, but the Zombies in this pic were too similar to the robots in I, Robot, especially in their body movements. I wish they would have gone with more organic looking creatures, maybe not Romeroesque, but at least something that resembles the humans the creatures used to be.
Also of note, the trailer has a great scene where Smith is standing between the monsters as they snarl at him. That scene is nowhere to be found in the film and I found that to be a very distracting omission.
While there have been many movies with this same basic premise, I enjoyed Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later much more. It’s just as bleak, but overall it is a much more effective horror flick.
The Summary: While scary at first, the film dies shortly after it gets going.