I AM LEGEND
Posted: Sun, Dec 30 2007 - 13:08 PM
Richard Matheson's seminal 1954 short novel I Am Legend has been inspiring storytellers for over half a century. Its tale of Earth's last human survivor fighting hordes of vampire/zombies has influenced everything from Night of the Living Dead to Cast Away to Stephen King's The Stand.
Filmed twice before (1964's The Last Man on Earth starring Vincent Price, 1971's The Omega Man starring Charlton Heston), Hollywood has never gotten it completely right. (Although, I must say the opening scene of Omega Man, with Chuck Heston speeding through a deserted metropolis, while listening to the theme from A Summer Place on his eight-track, spying movement in a window, screeching to a halt, and opening fire with an automatic weapon was pretty damn funny. I half expected an endorsement to crawl across the screen: THIS MESSAGE BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE NRA.)
But, I digress.
The most recent filming, directed by Francis Lawrence (Constantine) starring Will Smith (don't really need to list his credits, do I?), is a remarkable update of this oft imitated tale. Smith is riveting as Robert Neville, a scientist who worked on the cancer cure that eventually turned and wiped out humanity. This material is mined deep for the loneliness and insanity that such a man would face in a world all alone. Smith more than passes the Tom Hanks/Castaway test, holding the screen for two hours by himself (along with a German Shepherd, filling in for Wilson the volleyball). If there is another star in the film, it is the sight of a completely deserted New York City ~ utterly believable in its barrenness.
Much has been said by other critics regarding the infected "dark seekers" who haunt Neville, and only come out at night. Many of them have criticized the fact that they are completely CGI. I didn't have any problem with that ~ I found them frightening and believable. Much of the subtext of the book is lost in the fact that they do not speak, but ... this is a quibble. They scared me, period.
Neville does face the same ultimate fate as he did in the novel (definitely NOT a Hollywood ending), but this one injects hope in a manner that while not completely satisfying, is pretty darn good.
Bottom line, I liked this movie so much I saw it twice in one week.
Also ... you will never hear Bob Marley's Don't Worry About a Thing the same way again.
I AM LEGEND TRAILER
Category: Movie Reviews