I Am Legend

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The last man on earth is not alone.

2008

Genres:
Action, Horror, Sci-Fi, Drama

Starring:
Will Smith

Summary:
I Am Legend is the 3rd movie adaptation of the 1954 book by Richard Matheson of the same name. This version begins three years after a mutated virus has wiped out mankind. The last man on earth, Lt Col Robert Neville (Smith), lives in New York City with only his dog Sam to keep him company. Through flashbacks, we learn that Neville is a military doctor who was hailed as a hero due to his part in the development of a cure for cancer. Unfortunately, this cure took the form of a virus that became airborne and killed most of the people it infected. The others had a more unfortunate outcome, turning into murderous monsters able to be burned by sunlight.

For reasons he can't figure out, Neville was the only one that seemed to be immune to the virus. He spends his days scouring the city for food and supplies, visiting the local video store, and trying to find a cure for the infected. Neville's routine days take a turn for the worse when the infected start to take a focused interest in him.

Response:
This is a sci-fi version of Castaway, but that's doesn't mean that it's not spectacular. The opening sequences of a decayed and empty New York City were quite powerful, and the complete and utter lack of a traditional movie soundtrack just accentuated Neville's isolation and desperation.

This is the kind of sci-fi movie I really enjoy, where the genre is not used as a playing field for special effects gurus and their funky aliens, explosive armageddons, and noisy space battles. Instead, the genre is used as a vehicle to explore human nature and endurance. There's an overwhelming feeling of loneliness and borderline panic that seeps throughout the movie, due to a combination of clever sound editing, great writing, and some stellar acting.

Smith is wonderful as the tortured yet persistent hero, and some of his scenes are just brilliantly done- good thing for this movie as well since he's pretty much the only human for most of the movie. His daily routine is at once comical yet sad, as he tries to maintain some semblance of normal life in a completely lonely world. Just when I convince myself that Smith is not really that good of an actor, he does something like this movie, where the range of emotions that flicker across his face in just one small scene are more than other actors seem to manage in their entire career.

The special effects were good, and the vampires were suitably scary, but they weren't the focal point of the movie. In fact, the move showed why being the last human on earth would be far scarier than speedy howling monsters could ever be.

My only complaint is that the ending, although not a traditional happy Hollywood hackjob, is a bit too abrupt and tidy, tying up ends that may have been a bit more powerful had they been left dangling.

On a final note, this movie actually made me get a bit choked up (ok, maybe I even shed a tear). Yes, I think I cried at a zombie movie. That's what truly committed dorks do.

Point Blank:
A unique and powerful blend of sci-fi and drama, urban and natural, quiet and loud, horror and sorrow.