|I Am Legend |
Ultimate Collector's Edition
Actors: Patrick Fraley, James McCauley, Will Smith, Charlie Sutton, April Grace
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama
Robert Neville is a brilliant scientist, but even he could not contain the terrible virus that was unstoppable, incurable, and man-made. Somehow immune, Neville is now the last human survivor in what is left of New York Ci... more »
"Don't worry about a thing...."
trashcanman | Hanford, CA United States | 12/16/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
""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."
[3.5] A good film, but well below expectations.
Steven Hedge | Somewhere "East of Eden" | 01/16/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This third incarnation of Richard Matheson's masterpiece is superior to its predecessors in every way, but in spite of that achievement the film is still lacking and comes across as a disappointment in too many ways.
I can't bear to rehash the plot as nearly everyone knows this story by now, and if you are one of the few unfamiliar with this story, then please read Amazon's well-written synopsis or Trashcanman's excellent review in the Spotlight review section. I just plan to hit what I enjoyed about this film and what was so disappointing.
(1) Another top-notch, winning performance by the ever reliable and likable Will Smith.
(2) Outstanding set designs combined with CGI effects of a desolate and abandoned New York City make this film seem more important than it is.
(3) Best adaptation of Matheson's highly influential novel (even if it isn't the most faithful to the story in a literal sense --it captures the spirit of his work extremely well).
(1) The most glaring problem with this film, in my view, is the CGI effects for the vampire-like survivors of the plague. They are too cartoonish for me and appear far too much like video game villains. A good example of this for me is the early scene where Smith's character enters a building to get his dog and finds some zombies hiding in a corner. They are real people, not CGI, and they are frightening; however, later, when he's attacked by CGI zombies, it is unintentionally humorous as they appear like Gollum from LOTR on acid. The CGI effects are either not believable or just too over-the-top, thus, the scenes with them lose their punch.
(2) Uneven pacing of the story is a problem here. The opening segments give the impression that we are going to see a masterpiece here, but the second half of the film never matches the first half and it feels very rushed. It has that "hey, guys, we just ran out of money, so we have to wrap up this film up this week" feel to it. In a film with a deliberate and nearly dignified opening to fall into a shoddy rushed finale severely hurts this film and leaves a bad taste in one's mouth.
The film is still solid entertainment in spite of its obvious and significant flaws. It is probably one I will even buy when it becomes available on DVD later, but it is rather disappointing for a film that seemed to have so much going for it. Its box office receipts may reinforce that perception as it set opening weekend records with a take of about $77 million, but by its third weekend it only grossed about $15 million and that is a severe drop off. For a film that reportedly cost $150 to make it has grossed a disappointing $228 after a month at the box-office. That doesn't even qualify it has a hit with a mere $78 million dollar profit at this point. I do think it will be a hit after it's been released world-wide.
BTW: Some may ask, "What is a hit by today's standards?" That's a good question with really no one set answer, however, Hollywood traditionally likes to see a film generate double what it cost to make in order to classify a film as a hit. This film with a cost of $150 million to make is expected to earn $300 million to be considered a hit, but certain stars, like Will Smith, are expected to bring in better than double the cost of the film (hence, why this may end up being considered a "disappointment" at the box-office even if it hits the magic $300M mark)."
Color me surprised
Terry Mesnard | Bellevue, NE | 02/25/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I Am Legend can't get a fair shake. This Will Smith-led production is the third attempt Hollywood has made to adapt the brilliant novel. None of the adaptions have truly done the novel justice (which is a shame), but this version has come the closest.
Here we have a brilliant beginning; footage of a scientist (played beautifully by Emma Thompson) saying humbly that she's discovered a way to cure cancer. Fast forward a few years, and New York is utterly devoid of human life, save for Robert Neville (Will Smith). As the first half of the film progresses, we learn about his meager living, spending the day harvesting and trying to discover a cure, even now, while spending the night huddled in his protected home as creatures prowl.
His only companion, a wonderful dog named Sam, protects Neville as Neville protects him. They have a friendship based on loneliness and the human need for someone or something to hold onto. Sam is Neville's only connection to the past and the only way to represent what little humanity is left, either in the world or Neville himself. This period in the movie is pitch perfect, puncuated by one or two terrifying sequences that instill genuine horror.
Unfortunately, the last half of the film deteriorates into an action movie that completely changes the meaning of the words "I Am Legend." Don't get me wrong, it's mostly done really well. Constantine director Francis Lawrence has a good handle on the action and delivers some good scenes. But, it becomes muddled and veers off completely from the novel. My biggest complaint, though, is the use of CGI. Instead of using real flesh and blood actors, all of the creatures are created with CG and they look incredibly fake when lined up next to real people. In the beginning, it's not a problem but as you see more of them (and you will) it's glaringly obvious. And annoying.
All of this I was expecting going in, though. Considering that the film was co-written by Akiva Goldsman who also wrote I, Robot, I knew this version would stray from the source material just as I, Robot did. As a movie, it's genuinely thrilling and creates the perfect balance of tension and action through most of its entirety. And, surprisingly, Will Smith shows that he's a really good actor as he has to not only tackle many conflicting emotions during the two hour run time but he also has to do so without having much of anyone to react to. Spending a good hour or so without another single actor for Will Smith to work with was a gamble and it paid off.
Your enjoyment of the film is entirely based on what you bring to the table. If you're coming to this film expecting to see the book come to life you'll be sorely disappointed. However, if you're looking for a good action movie that actually has a good story and a human aspect, you'll be hard-pressed to find one as thrilling recently."
Digital Copy = Windows Only
Steve H | Northern California | 03/25/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Heads up! The Amazon description says that the digital copy is "for PCs and ipods." In a word... no. The packaging says no iPods. In fact, it also says no Mac, no Zune, no anything but Windows Media Player 10.
In fairness, I suppose that since it's on the box it's my fault for buying it. I just didn't realize I needed to get out a magnifying glass at the store and read the fine print.
To make it even more laughable, the insert that tells you how to "activate" the digital copy says that the "offer expires 3/18/09."
Just when you think the MPAA may finally be getting a clue..."