Richard Matheson’s I AM LEGEND is one of the greatest sci-fi/horror novellas out there, and one of my all-time favorite reads. From its first-person perspectives to the impending doom of the situation, it’s a fantastic read for anyone who hasn’t hunted it down yet. So a few years back, when it was announced Will Smith was going to star as the last man on Earth in a big-budget Hollywood take on the flick, I had semi-high hopes for it being totally awesome, and living up to the story Matheson wrote so many years ago. And while it wasn’t the greatest flick ever (wait… he wasn’t the last man Earth???), the first half was solid, and Big Willie Style did a damn good job carrying the whole film on his shoulders. The flick made a ton of money so it was inevitable that it would spawn a sequel, but according to Smith just this last week, he’s not going to be involved with I AM LEGEND 2 (and yes, we know how the first film ended, this is Hollywood after all). Say whaaaat???
Not that Smith is as relevant as he was when I AM LEGEND was released, but he’s still a relatively big star, and one that people still have faith in and will flock to the theater to see what he’s up to (case in point, MEN IN BLACK 3). The thing is, one of the reasons why I AM LEGEND was so successful was Will Smith. Not the crappy CGI zombie/vampires, not the chick and her kid, not the f*cking dog, but Smith. Grandmas love that guy, and I’m sure a few of them showed up just to see what the hell Smith was up to. Take him out of I AM LEGEND 2 and what do you have? You have a lame sequel that will feel like a straight-to-DVD piece of crap, and not a legit, Hollywood sequel.
Sometimes, and I stress sometimes, a sequel to a popular flick can do OK if the main star from the original doesn’t show up. I haven’t seen it yet, but JOURNEY 2 THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND doesn’t seem to have people in an uproar that Brendan Fraser didn’t show up. But for the most part, if the main peep isn’t back for the sequels, it’s just a bad idea. PREDATOR 2, for example, didn’t really work without Schwarzenegger. Actually, TERMINATOR SALVATION also didn’t work without Schwarzenegger, but that probably has more to do with the absence of James Cameron than anything else. No, most times if there’s a sequel without the main motherf*ckers in it, it’s STD bullshit and it just doesn’t work.
One argument floating around out there is that Smith doesn’t do sequels. This same argument is made by people who have forgotten all about BAD BOYS 2, MEN IN BACK 2, and MEN IN BLACK 3. The dude is a big enough star to do what he wants, and from his track record… the dude likes doing sequels. And since he signed on to do MEN IN BLACK 2, my only assumption is that the script for I AM LEGEND 2 was so bad that even Smith didn’t want to be apart of it. And if that’s the case, well then, I guess we’re all pretty much f*cked.
So what are they gonna do? Hire someone else to play the same dude? Have us follow another dude dealing with the same epidemic on the other side of the country? I guess I could see an entry like this taking place in San Francisco or somewhere equally as iconic and eerie, but then wouldn’t it just be a reboot/remake/revision rather than an actual sequel? My guess is the idea is to follow the rest of the survivors, where we (of course) start treading on THE WALKING DEAD style of survival in a wasteland of a zombie-like apocalypse. And without Will Smith on board, what the f*ck is the point?
Maybe it’s the booze talkin’, but an I AM LEGEND 2 without Will Smith is a sequel that just shouldn’t happen. Rewrite the script, throw more money at Smith, or do whatever they have to do to have him on board, otherwise… just throw in the towel and leave well-enough alone! There’s no reason for a sequel anyway, so it’s obvious they’re pulling one out of their ass at this point, so without the key player… what’s the f*cking point? It’d be different if there was an overwhelming amount of people walking around saying “When are they going to make a sequel to I AM LEGEND?” – but they’re not. No one is. That sentence doesn’t exist except for right here. No Will Smith means no I AM LEGEND 2. ‘Nuff said! Now, a WILD WILD WEST 2… that’s something I can get behind.