I Am Legend (2007)
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Review Date: January 28, 2008
Director: Francis Lawrence
Writer: Mark Protosevich, Akiva Goldsman
Producers: Akiva Goldsman, David Heyman, Neal H. Moritz
Will Smith as Robert Neville
Alica Braga as Anna
Charlie Tahan as Ethan
The last possible man on the planet is in New York City and driving around with his German-Shepherd dog by his side. During the days, he mucks around, hoping to find another human being, but at nights, he locks himself into the home, as “the infected” come out and play (well, not really “play”…more like destroy anything in their paths). What ensues are various scenes of said man (alright, it’s Will Smith!) spanning time and attempting to find a “cure” to the virus that seems to have obliterated humanity. Unfortunately for us, that process apparently involves a lot of CGI.
I liked a lot of things about this movie, but there were two things that I didn’t care for too much, and unfortunately, they’re two pretty important things: the CGI and the ending. Don’t get me wrong, I actually quite liked the film overall, and for once, I’m actually looking forward to seeing a director’s cut/or extended edition on DVD because I really wanted to spend more time with this guy and his predicament, a la CAST AWAY. The director also did a great job of setting up the loneliness and basic premise during the film’s first hour, which also threw in some flashbacks from time to time, to provide us with even more background on what really happened to the world’s population. But I would have liked to have seen better CGI or practical effects used more effectively throughout the film, and I would have preferred that the film last about 30 minutes longer, rather than its current quick, less effective resolution. That said, as it stands now, I enjoyed myself throughout this entire movie and could certainly see myself checking it out again, and as mentioned earlier, hopefully in longer form.

Will Smith was great as the lead as well, being as he basically had to carry the entire film on his shoulders, and unlike in many of his other “big movies”, that statement is truer here than ever before (really, there’s almost no other human actors in this entire movie). As Tom Hanks pulled off very effectively in CAST AWAY, Smith makes us like him from the start, relate to him and yes, even appreciate some of his light antics (although as I’m sure many of you will agree, I was glad that we didn’t get the “wise-cracking” Smith character here, the material deserved someone with a little more depth, i.e. he never says these words in the movie: “Hell no!!”). And yeah, I was also a fan of his nasty disposition and the graying hair…nice touch! Smith also got teary-eyed in a couple of scenes and effective they were, and doubly-impressive here, since that very same guy is blowing “infected” people away with his shotgun in scenes around that one. Not many people can pull off that balance. And I really loved those action sequences as well, particularly the one in which Smith has to run after his Wilson-esque dog into a dark building. That entire sequence left me jittery and crunching on fingernails and reminded me of the last scene from the original BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. The suspense was well played in that sequence, as was the lingering sting of Smith’s utter despair and isolation, throughout the entire film.

That said, I could see how some people might not “get into” the film’s slower paced first half (like the girl nuzzled to my side during my screening), but I personally dig that kind of thing, particularly in a movie that delivers in action as well (a little bit of everything). But too many of the sequences featuring the “infected” looked a little too computer-generated for my taste, and the ending of the film, while dark and worthwhile in one sense, went down a little too fast and easy in another sense. Also, as much as I love Bob Marley, and the album to which Smith refers in the film specifically, I thought that entire “connection” to Smith’s character felt “written” and inserted to make a point. I didn’t need to be hit over the head with that. I still had some unanswered questions as well, particularly about what was happening outside of New York, which is barely even alluded to. All in all though, I really liked this futuristic character study/action movie, with its likeable and relatable lead, well handled suspense and action, and dark lonely science-fiction basis, but I wish they hadn’t used so much CGI (or done them better) and that the film had lasted longer and given us a more powerful ending. That said, I will recommend it to my friends and anyone else who wants to see what an amazing 8-pack Smith sports in this movie. Sign me up to this legend’s gym!
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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