"I Am Legend"
Directed by Francis Lawrence.
Written by Mark Protosevich and Akiva Goldsmith. Based on a
novel by Richard Matheson.
Starring Will Smith.
Release Year: 2007
Review Date: 12/15/07
"I Am Legend" is based on a novel that has
been made into two other movies before, "The Last Man on Earth"
(1964) and "The Omega Man" (1971). Strangely, the book, by
writer Richard Matheson, is called "I Am Legend" but the two
previous movies didn't use the book's title; go figure. I have
not seen the other two films, but anything based on an idea of the
present suddenly turning into the apocalypse is commonplace these
days...in the last five years, just the
Weeks Later" movies and
Men" alone preach similar fates for mankind.
This time, it's 2012, and soldier-scientist
Robert Neville (Will Smith) is the only man alive in New York City.
NYC was ground zero when, in 2009, an outbreak of some kind
eliminated 90% of the city's population and the remaining 10% mainly
turned into zombies, save for a few lucky souls that were immune to
the turn-into-a-zombie scenario (this is really never explained).
Periodically, Neville goes out during the daytime to hunt, track
down supplies, and trap a few zombies and household pets to run
tests in his home lab, because even though he knows it may be
hopeless, he's still trying to find a cure for those unlucky zombies
(which only come out at night).
The premise never really interested me;
again, this is fairly rehashed material. What interested me
greatly was the idea that New York City could ever look this
deserted, and the main strength of "I Am Legend" is any time Neville
and his dog are running around the empty streets of New York.
I'm sure this was a mix of the real and the computer enhanced, but
the look onscreen is completely seamless and I loved it. Can
you imagine being able to drive Broadway or Fifth Avenue from end to
end with no traffic or traffic signals??? How about chillin'
on top of an aircraft carrier, using the main deck as a driving
range? The look of "I Am Legend" is far and away its best
The rest of the scenario, while admittedly
tense at times, is for lack of a better word rote; at times, it's
actually a little boring to go through Neville's routine once we
have seen it the first time. And, with no one to talk to for
the film's first 70-80 minutes, "Cast Away" comes to mind
immediately as the kind of movie this one becomes...luckily, Smith
is generally engaging and at times very believable as a guy who is
on edge after spending almost 1,000 days by himself in a world
decimated by tragedy. The sparse action sequences are well
done as Neville has to fight off a random zombie attack here and
there; at least these zombies move faster than most zombies do, but
as a bad guy choice, I'm starting to get a little tired of zombies.
What ever happened to the Mafia, or Russian terrorists, or the
Ehhh...not bad. I'm sure it will make
a shitload of money, which was always the point anyway.
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard