I Am Legend (2007)
Director: Francis Lawrence
A “cure for cancer” backfires on civilization, leaving poor little Dr. Robert Neville (Smith) as the sole resident of earth. In between rapping to his dog, himself or mannequins (yup, he has issues) he has to fend off his ball breaking nocturnal neighbors: a slew of vampi…oops… I mean “infected”humans". Arrow Sings: It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine!
Richard Matheson’s novel I AM LEGEND has been adapted twice for the big screen thus far (no I won’t count Asylum’s cash-in travesty I AM OMEGA … f*ck that shite!) via THE LAST MAN ON EARTH and THE OMEGA MAN. Neither effort lived up to its source material. So it was with hopes cranked high that I caught this latest cinematic incarnation of Matheson’s enduring tale, hoping for the best, eager for somebody to do it right already! Home run?
Compared to the book, I’d call this flick I AM LEGEND FOR DUMMIES. The themes have been uber simplified, plot devices altered/stripped down dramatically while the last "connect the dots" block had NATHING to do with its meatier source. Moreover, those expecting “vampires” to rip the screen here as in the book will be mucho bummed out. No blood suckers at play man, just a bunch of CGI coated “ragers” running amuck like Tupperware Wives at a 2 for 1 container sale. Is it me or did 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later wear that "rage" novelty off already? And WTF is wrong with vampires anyways? SLAP THEM IN THERE! Sheesh! So from a mook that read the book – meh. Now let’s strap its feet in stirrups, spread them legs wide and explore it on its own.
Damn did this baby look spiffy! The jaw dropping shots of a totally empty New York City were a sight to behold and really brought the dire state of the situation home. The fact that they were communicated via razor shots and polished cinematography jacked the power of the imagery two-fold. I was floored! Action/horror wise; I got enough high concept physical shenanigans to please and dug the random genuinely suspenseful bits. Oddly enough though, one visceral scene aside (the hive bit), none of them action/horror ringers stood out. They went down, I had fun and I forgot them. THANK ZEUS above (or is it below, who knows where that f*cker lives) that I had a hero I wanted to follow around. He was my anchor to the whole. I usually don’t care for Will Smith or his movies but here he sold me! Good thing that he did, because I was pretty much stuck with him alone (not counting the pooch) for an hour or so. The actor's usual "funny" “Smithtisisms” were on an all time low, making way for a moving and brave performance instead. So for once, I can say with a straight face “I really dug Will Smith” in a movie. I guess pigs will fly next!
Alas, I can’t say the same as to the manner in which the story fleshed out (or didn't) and unraveled. Don’t get me wrong I was totally engaged for the first 45 minutes or so. It was a compelling build-up. Problem was, the pay-off just didn’t measure up! Sure I got all kinds of mind-numbing horror/action set pieces tossed my way, and I was having a hoot with them, but narrative, depth and character wise; the flick lost me at Plot Point number 1. They just didn’t make the most of the solid story and potentially layered hero they had! They rushed through it all; hoping that the eye candy and fluffly drama (What was that Bob Marley shite all about? CORNY!) would be enough. Didn’t work on my ass. As the end credits rolled, I craved an extra half hour, if only to do its initial storyline and lead character justice. And why oh why did they go so CGI loon with the monsters? I know it’s a clichéd statement by now but how else can say it? I felt like I was watching a freaking video game. The film so didn’t have to be to be this blatantly CGI when it came to its villains. THE DESCENT anyone? Alas, the fakeness of the creatures took away from their fear quotient. When will they learn for Uncle F*ck’s sakes!
As a whole, I AM LEGEND, did the trick on a cosmetic and cheap thrills standpoint. It did have me with its dramatic build-up early on as to its flawed hero but then did nothing substancial with it and pretty much dropped or rushed the ball with the rest. Not an awful film by any means – just not a memorable one. Could’ve and should’ve been so much more! Will YOU be Legend? YOUR CALL!
Not much, grisly bites, ugly mutants and minor flesh wounds.
Will Smith (Robert Neville) did a bang-on job at conveying the perturbed mental state of his character and his inner struggles. Although the script didn’t give the dude much meat to chew on, he did the best he could with what he had and drove the character home with gusto. Props! Alice Braga (Anna) and Salli Richardson (Zoe) did what they had to do adequately. Parts were slim but their respective talents made them shine.
T & A
The ladies will be in a tizzy to know that Will Smith goes shirtless here and shows off his “Lean Cuisine” buff-stuff. Us dudes are stuck with the canine’s hairy ass…bugh…
Much like his previous film, the underrated CONSTANTINE, Lawrence field goaled skulls with his polished, semi grandiose and eye candy inclined visual style. Also, when taking the time, he pulled off some oppressive nail-biting sequences. Too bad he seems to have a boner for CGI. Sure CONSTANTINE needed it, but in my opinion, this one didn’t.
The usually reliable James Newton Howard did the score and for some reason I don’t remember it one bit... like AT ALL! Rare that happens to me. Do with that what you will!
Look I boogied to I AM LEGEND while I was watching it. Will Smith owned it, the desolate NY streets setting was striking and I got a couple of potent jolts and easy kicks out of it. With that stabbed, looking back, I can barely think of one particular scene that truly marked me. I viewed the film, dug it, forgot it. In my book, this baby should've been more, specially when it came to its depth and bringing it home in its second act. And if I drop kick it next to the book – forget about it, didn’t happen. Final thoughts: Much like the broads I wine, McDonalds Drive Through and screw: pleasurable yet disposable. Next!
Ridley Scott was going to helm this one with Arnold Schwarzenegger as the lead, but the project fell through due to a sky rocketing budget.
In 2003, Steve Niles did a graphic novel of Matheson's book
BLEED THE I AM LEGEND SITE DRY HERE