Monday, 21 September 2020
I Am Legend
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Monday, 17 December 2007 00:00
I Am Legend certainly hasn’t lacked blockbuster numbers at the box office although I suspect the name Will Smith has something to do with that. Smith has proven time after time that the “Fresh Prince” isn’t just fresh meat, and that he has the talent and staying power necessary to continue leading the Hollywood pack.

I Am Legend takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where Robert Neville (Smith) wanders the streets of Manhattan as the only man left standing after a virus has cleaned out the population. The city is in a state of decay; vegetation crowds the streets, herds of deer run wild amidst parked cars, the infrastructure is crumbling. These scenes are awe inspiring and eerie, giving a true sense of the loneliness of one man amidst the rubble.

Neville’s only companion is Sam, a German shepherd that he treats like a child. During the day he races through the streets in his sports car stockpiling food and supplies at the townhouse where he lives. At night he wipes all trace of his existence and hides behind the steel shutters that seal his doors and windows. He hides because night is when the zombies come out to play.

The creatures in question aren’t really zombies, but the cities’ former inhabitants who aren’t dead but have mutated into flesh eating monstrosities. Oddly their transition has given them all unlimited strength and speed – something I never did understand about these types of movies. If a creature was once human, shouldn’t it retain the limitations put on a human body? Also, they all look identical since the special effects department didn’t feel the need to create more than one facial model. So the result is that it looks like we are seeing the same creature over and over again, even in the scenes where there are hundreds of them. Sadly this is one of my biggest complaints about the movie, and it could have so cheaply and easily have been avoided.

Through a series of flashbacks we realize that Neville is actually a scientist who has sworn to reverse the effects of the virus and create a vaccine against it. He experiments in his basement lab, documenting his progress and hoping against hope that there is still someone out there he can help.

Smith is engaging and entertaining to watch. He puts a considerable amount of effort into his performance especially considering this is essentially a creature feature. I found myself thinking back to Tom Hanks in Cast Away although in this case Wilson has been replaced by a dog. Another film I could easily draw comparisons to would be 28 Days Later, mostly for the stark and empty cityscapes.

I found myself quickly drawn into this movie and thoroughly entertained almost the entire way through. I say “almost” because I thought it fell apart a bit toward the end. But either way this is a fun and engaging movie that has bit more to offer than a simple cheap thrill. I think this one will be a crowd pleaser, especially for fans of Will Smith whose on-screen charisma carries the film. It seems that if anyone in Hollywood these days has the right to say I am Legend it could be Smith. I give it 7 out of 10.