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To the modern eye, the Plot for the 1954 Richard Matheson novel "I Am Legend" might sound something like "Cast Away" with Zombies. Truth be told, that's not a terrible premise, and 'Constantine' Director Francis Lawrence runs with that. Where he takes it works hard, and you are ensured to enjoy this ride.
Will Smith plays Robert Neville, a Virologist investigating a genetically engineered cure for Cancer that has gone very, very wrong. With most of the World's Population wiped out and a small remnant turned into ravenous, infected carriers, Neville ekes out a lonely existence with only a dog for company in the remains of New York City. He hunts, forages, and explores by day and shuts himself in at night. The infected, as it turns out, are vulnerable to ultraviolet light.
Through flashbacks, we see how Neville came to be in this predicament, and how he dedicated himself to finding a cure. Part of that involves capturing infected humans for testing. In doing so, he incurs the wrath of one of the local CHUDs and Neville soon finds out that these creatures are not as mindless as they look.
At first, the film wrings a nightmarish plethora of scares out of Neville's encounters and does an amazingly great job of revealing the monsters bit by bit, until finally unleashing them in their CGI hardcore. By the time they're in full-on assault mode, they are resembling Zombified/Vampirish CHUD's., right down to their wall-scaling and coordinated visceral attacks. This makes for incredibly exciting action sequences., without ever dialing down the horror quotient.
Smith, for his part, does a superb job of communicating the pathos and desperation of the last man on Earth. His slow disintegration into Madness is subtly evoked, and in one particularly emotional scene, he handles one of the most tired clichés of the Zombie Genre with genuine depth.
The script gives him plenty of help. Screenwriters Mark Protosevich and Akiva Goldsman show plenty of restraint, teasing out the details of the Virus and its Outbreak over the course of the film while elegantly laying out how Neville interacts with this Post-Apocalyptic World in episodic vignettes.
Ultimately, the film seems to be on the verge of asking intriguing questions about faith and humanity. While doing so, "I Am Legend" maintains the power to awe. The Production Design by David Lazan and Naomi Shohan is nothing short of amazing, rendering a Big Apple reclaimed by nature with stark realism.
This film is simple breathtaking....and absolutely cannot fail you !!
DO NOT MISS THIS !!
This was a Long-Time Coming !!
I was really looking forward to seeing "I Am Legend", from the moment I found out earlier this year. In preparation to seeing the movie, I watched Vincent Price in "The Last Man on Earth" and Charlton Heston in "The Omega Man". Even though the main ideas of the two prior versions were the same (last man, virus, night creatures, etc.), the delivery varied for their particular time. So I was intrigued to see how the storyline would be adapted to our time.
The first thing that struck me was the set. Growing up in New York City, it really hit me hard to see the devastation and isolation of the city that "Never Sleeps". The streets, the abandoned cars, the bridges, the U.N.,etc. It really hit home. Then we see a much slender, leaner Will Smith trying to cope with the fact that he was alone. His portrayal of Robert Neville is great. Very moving. I find the origin of the virus quite interesting as it comes as a side effect for a cure for cancer. The prior two movies used a plague (The Last Man on Earth) and germ warfare (The Omega Man) to explain the virus. The use of a cure that transforms into a virus gives it an ironic twist.
The film opens well, and continues that way until the introduction of the other two human characters, but that's about an hour or more of Smith, alone in Manhattan after a genetically-altered version of the measles has either killed or mutated the rest of humanity into super-violent creatures who prey on those unaffected, but only at night. They're killed almost instantly when exposed to sunlight. Smith, playing Robert Neville, was an Army Lieutenant before the virus was unleashed three years prior, and he spends his lonely days walking and stalking on the grown-in streets of Manhattan with his dog, Sam. At night, he locks himself in his apartment and attempts to find a cure. It's interesting seeing Smith carry the movie with only himself, Sam, some various wild animal species, and some mannequins. He does an excellent job, and I'm sure that's not an easy task for an actor. This is easily the most likable character he's ever played, and he brings a lot of great stuff to it, including humor and a scene that had me on the verge of tears.
Will Smith and the strength of the story outweigh the two mot glaringly bad things about this film. However, the creature effects are WAY too over-reliant on CGI, but then again, so are most horror films these days, so you might be used to it. Animatronics and foam rubber latex effects pioneered well over thirty years ago look a lot more believable than this cartoonish junk. And the other thing is the ending. It's not terrible, and it won't make you dislike the rest of the film, but the original story's ending is very sad and ironic, and this, like the other two adaptations, just can't seem to cope with the magnitude of the situation, so they always leave you with something WAY to hopeful for what we've seen throughout the rest of the film, and also, it seems that they're afraid to teach you the incredible lesson the original Matheson story had to offer. This is a good adaptation of Richard Matheson's 'I Am Legend.' So far, none of the three have nailed it, due to the inability to just use the story's ending, but this one comes close and is certainly one of the best of the three (the other two are good flicks so I recommend them all).
Tree roots have buckled the pavement; the weeds on 5th Avenue are plentiful enough to support whole herds of deer. Times Square is prowled by lions rather than tourists. There's not a person in sight anywhere — except Robert Neville, who travels, when the sun is highest in the sky, to the South Street Seaport, to broadcast the same message he's been broadcasting for almost three years: "If anyone is out there, I can provide food, shelter, security. If there's anybody out there ... you are not alone."
Manhattan, and indeed the world, has been emptied of humanity by a man-made virus that was supposed to cure cancer. Alas, viruses mutate, and this one developed a deadly strain, killing most humans outright and turning the rest into light-phobic zombies who only come out at night.
The island of Manhattan — Ground Zero for the epidemic — has long since been quarantined, all its bridges and tunnels dynamited. Three years later, Neville is the last uninfected resident, a virologist searching for a cure, talking mostly to his dog, and to his tape recorder.
"Day 1001," he murmurs. "Vaccine trials continue. I'm still unable to transfer my immunity to infected hosts. ...the cryptovirus is elegant."
For much of its length, so is I Am Legend. Hollywood's digitizers have outdone themselves, turning truncated bridges and rusting traffic jams apocalyptic, and Smith, who has to carry much of the film without dialogue, is persuasively stir-crazy and heroic. But sooner or later, of course, those zombies have to appear.
When they do, banging their heads against plate glass as movie zombies always do, I started needing something else to think about. And maybe it's just that unlike most of you, I've seen a whole fall's worth of War-on-Terrorism, Rendition-for-Lambs -In-the-Valley-of-Elah movies, but what I started thinking about was that I Am Legend fits right in with those pictures.
I mean, it's still a sci-fi blockbuster, but take a look at that plot: Western medicine takes a virus (a bad thing) and manipulates it so that it can fight cancer (a worse thing). Sort of like Western military forces arming jihadists (which they regard as a bad thing) so that they'll fight communists (which they regard as a worse thing).
And then the built-up virus — the bad thing — mutates into something much worse than the cancer, and it turns on its creators. And this starts where? That's right: In New York, which everyone in the movie keeps calling Ground Zero. And some poor schmoe who didn't start the problem has to try to fix it.
But even if he comes up with a cure, a way to make the nasty infected guys human again, they're just going to keep coming, banging their heads against plate glass, destroying the civilized world and — here's the kicker — either killing everyone they come into contact with or converting them into monsters just like themselves. And the only solution is to shoot them dead — or withdraw behind metal walls, into a fortress-like homeland. And that's not working.
"I Am Legend" is the latest film adaptation of Richard Matheson's novel of the same name. This time Robert Neville is played by Will Smith, who is the last man left alive in NYC after a government experiment went wrong and produced some kind of new, highly predatory monster. During the day Robert scavenges the city for the stuff he needs, and occasionally captures a stray monster. At night he experiments on them to try to find a cure.
I thought it was phenomenally shot, and genuinely the scariest movie I've seen in a while. The scene that I found genuinely frightening (and not just a cheap horror thrill with a loud sound and/or violin shriek) is when Sam (Neville's dog) rushes after a deer into a pitch dark area, with only a gun-mounted flashlight Neville goes after him.
Followed by another great scene, in which Fred (one of the mannequins Neville sets up outside a video store to talk to) has been moved, it nearly drives Neville insane, thinking Fred is perhaps a real person, and having to shoot him to be sure, only to spring Darkseeker's trap.
The special effects were awesome; New York really looked like a deserted and empty wasteland. The monsters were OK, but they looked like they were CGI'ed at Disney's Pixar Studios which is a disappointment for me. Will Smith did a good job as the lonely Neville, but his fragile hold on his sanity was not a lot of fun to watch.
My rating is 9 out of 10 Stars