Monday, December 17, 2007

I Am Legend

My brother came up from Maryland to see me this weekend. It was cold and nasty out so we thought we'd go see a movie. I've been tracking I Am Legend for quite a while and was pretty excited to see it. It's Will Smith in an event movie so you know it's got to be at least a little entertaining. The trailers were good and on Thursday I had heard that Legend will also show the first real Dark Knight trailer, so I was sold. Let me tell you the Dark Knight trailer was pretty bad ass. I almost didn't recognize Heath Ledger. His Joker was creepy and it definitely reminded me of the early Batman Comics version. The voice did feel like he was channeling Jack Nicholson a bit but not enough to be distracting or a direct copy. Anyway I thought it was great and it pumped me up seeing a few clips of Batman tussling with the Joker.
Oh, yeah forgot, supposed to be talking about the Will Smith movie. Mr. Smith, as we will call him, is quite the phenom, I mean here is a guy that has played in every kind of event/action movie blockbuster you can think of like, Independence Day - fighting a bunch of creepy aliens. Men In Black I & 2 - more creepy aliens. Bad Boys 1&2 - Creepy Drug Dealers. Enemy of the State - The Government spying program, or if we keep with the theme creepy Government spooks. Hitch - Romantic Comedy, creepy Kevin James. Then you have the one that baffles me the most as a box office powerhouse, The Pursuit of Happyness. This basic drama that could only be compared to films like Kramer Vs. Kramer or maybe the Champ from 1979. A film like this in it's entire run only makes, if they are lucky, about 60 million, it's a drama. Will Smith by himself and with the help of his cute kid made over 100 million bucks. This assures me that if Will Smith wanted to make a movie about him stuck in a bathroom stall for 2 and a half hours he could make it work and probably create a blockbuster hit. So this film is about Dr. Robert Neville, a brilliant scientist/military soldier. Kind of a cross between Colin Powell and Albert Einstein. A virus is airbourne in New York and it's up to Neville to find a cure. The only catch is that everyone is either infected or they left the island. So Neville is damned to live in an abandoned city by himself trying to find a cure for all of those vampire/zombie people who have been infected. There are no new themes here but again, Mr. Smith is such a capable actor that you are sucked into his world and mesmerized by his ability to carry the movie as he talks to mannequins, dogs and on occasion himself. It's half Castaway, half 28 Days Later with a smidge of the Omega Man at the end.

Neville is not a typical hero though, at a certain point his true nature of arrogance, paranoia and the pain of lonliness have prompted him to be a little more layered then he usually is in these kind of event movies. It's not all fun and games with a quick pun to your opponent. It is sometimes frightening when he's stuck outside at night by himself and these thousands of vampire like humans attempting to stalk and kill him. The pacing is very good in these instances as they jack up the suspense and make you feel very uncomfortable for Mr. Smith as these creatures surround him looking for blood.

The creatures, unfortunately looked incredibly fake. I'm uncertain why they didn't just use makeup and some wire work or something because the CG they used for them was terrible. It really takes you out of it too because the drama and the setting are so great and affecting and then you get to those damn vampire/zombie creatures and it's kinda like in Jaws when you see the shark too often it becomes less scary.

Overall it was a tense and fun thriller and if you enjoy post-apocalyptic thrillers or if you enjoy Will Smith then I think you'll like this one. It's funny that this film was supposed to have been made years ago with then action star Arnold Swartzenegger as Robert Neville. Honestly I'm not sure how that would have worked especially with this script. I can see Arnold as a military guy but not so much as a scientist. Can you see Arnold trying to say lines like this? "Nothing happened the way it was supposed to happen. We are seeing mutations. Cannabalistic hunger. Typical human behavior is now entirely absent." With that accent it would sound--funny especially when he starts talking about Cannibals.

Grade: 3 Buckets

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