I’m going to start off by saying ‘I liked it’. Will Smith does a good job in very difficult circumstances. One only has to look at how Tom Hanks portrayed the lead character in Castaway to see how difficult it is to play a role based mostly upon solitude. Admittedly, Smith is not in the same league as Tom Hanks as an actor, but he does play the part well and is suited to the role of Robert Neville. I’ve always thought of Will Smith as a one trip pony, able to play slightly comic characters and not much else, but this was a much more serious ‘action role’ and the boy done good. The scene where he chases Sam into the nest, you can feel the claustrophobia he must be feeling. His fear is palpable. The relationship he has with the mannequins dotted around the city, especially the final ‘trap’ mannequin (Frank??) is well portrayed. You have to remember that this is a guy who has been without human contact for three years. That has to be a difficult thing to deal with.
When he meets the woman and the child he has difficulty communicating with them not just because of the three year human absense but also consider;
~ His ONLY companion has just been killed
~ He just tried to kill himself
~ The house he lives in once had his wife and daughter in it and this is the first time someone else has been there
~ It has been three years, and that can’t be easy.
However, due to the pace of the movie we do not get to see this relationship move forward so I can understand why Kory suggests Smith cannot pull it off.
I think the way the story is told fits perfectly. Jumping straight into the action and not giving us a chance to read too much into the story allows it to unfold through the flashback scenes and the little dialogue that occurs between Neville and the woman. It’s a fitting method for releasing the information to the audience (although a real bitch if you’re watching it with a woman; ‘Why did that happen?’ ‘What is he doing?’ ‘Why is he taking blood?’ ‘watch the fucking movie, Jesus!!’) Maybe it’s just me, being a fan of all dystopian ‘end of the world’ type of stories, but I thought it was a story well told.
The action set pieces were well done too. I mentioned the first encounter with a hive. That was an intense scene. The ‘trap’ and the infected dogs attacking Sam, that was pretty cool too. I was ‘Will’ing (sorry ’bout that) him to get up and run to the car. I actually found myself caring about the character by that point. The paranoia and delusions, ‘Tell me you’re not real, Frank!!’, were well crafted and well presented. The house attack was impressively scripted too, and the flight to the lab through the ruined house with the infected in pursuit was paced just right. It wasn’t too rushed and it wasn’t too drawn out.
Maybe the movie was a little short, but then I think to have extended it over a longer period of time would have made it lose some of it’s impact. I’ve watched it twice now (once alone on Christmas Eve and once with Jenny on Boxing Day) and I can’t think of anywhere I would add additional content. The flashbacks were sufficient for telling HIS story, the action was well done and intense enough without being another Die Hard. The relationship between Smith’s Character and the desolation was explored just enough to give us a taste of his lonliness without hinting too much at the abject boredom someone must feel alone for three years with just a dog for company. The only thing I wasn’t too pleased with was the science bit, but it’s fantasy, a story, and admidst cures for cancer and vampire-zombies it doesn’t take too much of imagination to suspend disbelief enough to make it workable.
In all, it was an enjoyable piece of story telling and passed two hours in a suitably entertaining fashion. I enjoyed it and Jenny enjoyed it, for different reasons. I enjoyed the dystopian future-vision and the ‘what might happen if’ aspect of it and Jenny enjoyed being scared by the monsters (who, okay, weren’t ‘the best’ but were passable). I would recommend it for viewing, but maybe not for being added to your ‘top movies’ list.
I’ll give I am Legend a satisfying 7.5/10.
[I based this review upon I am Legend the 2007 movie without reference to the book or to the other two movies based on the book, ‘The Last Man on Earth’ and ‘The Omega Man’. I have not read the book but I have ordered it and will do when I have got through my current pile of to-be-reads.]