Monday, February 04, 2008

I Am Legend

I Am LegendI Am Legend is based on a 1954 story by Richard Matheson, which has already spawned a couple of other versions and is widely held as a forerunner to the zombie movie genre. The plot is simple - mankind has been all but wiped out by a plague and what's left of us are vampiric zombies, all but Dr. Robert Neville. Here's a summary of this version…
It's 2012 and Dr. Robert Neville (Will Smith) is the sole survivor in a deserted New York City, the legacy of a retroviral cure for cancer gone wrong three years earlier. By day he roams the streets, looking for food and supplies, and by night he barricades himself into his fortress of a home, hiding from the remnants of humanity that prowl the darkness, hungry for his flesh.

Those of us that the pandemic didn't kill have mutated into flesh-eating zombies with an almost vampiric aversion to ultra-violet light. Neville, a brilliant military scientist before the plague, now labours constantly to find a cure while also holding out some hope that there are others out there that, like him, are immune to the virus and that he is not alone.

I Am Legend was a movie that we hadn't really been thinking of going to see. Will Smith saving the world yet again wasn't really that high on our list of things to see but we fancied a movie and the show times were a bit awry for Sweeney Todd so I Am Legend won out.

I Am Legend
The movie is shot showing Neville surviving as best he can, alone in New York City and intercut with flashbacks to three years before when the cure for cancer was announced to the world and the events that followed when some of those given the cure start to show signs that all is not well. It's a pretty well told story and Smith shows that he can still hold the show, mostly on his own for the run of the movie. His main co-star for most of it is his dog, a German Shepherd called Sam.

The visual effects are also very good indeed as they've transformed New York City into a run-down and over-grown scene of dereliction. Grass and trees grow out of the sidewalk, car wrecks litter the streets and wildlife runs freely down the boulevards. Where it falls short is in some of the CGI work. The lions just didn't look right to me and the Dark Seekers, while they were pretty well done, just lacked a bit of realism. Of course that could have been deliberate as they did seem very like the monsters out video games like Resident Evil.

On the whole I think it works well. Smith portrays a man that's been alone for three years, surviving day by day, very well indeed. His mental state has definitely taken a few knocks over the time, raiding the stores for canned food and DVDs to watch and daily going to the docks to see if anyone has heard his radio message telling them that he's alive and that they're not alone.

I've seen seen the earlier version of the story, The Omega Man, starring Charleton Heston and this is definitely better. It's a wee bit on the slow side at times but it works well and there's plenty of action and tense moments to keep the thrill seekers happy enough. Not a classic of the cinema but worth going to see.

Genre: Drama, Horror, Science-Fiction, Thriller
My Rating: 7/10

No comments: