Genres: Action, Horror,

Rated: PG-13

Country: USA

Year: 2007

Runtime: 101 minutes

Studio: Warner Bros.

Review done by: Serial McKiller
Online since: February 20th, 2006
Hosted by:  Yahoo!
Starring: Will Smith, Salli Richardson, Paradox Pollack, Alice Braga, Charlie
Tahan, Michael Ciesla, Thomas J. Pilutik

Director: Francis Lawrence

Synopsis: Robert Neville is a brilliant scientist, but even he could not contain
the terrible virus that was unstoppable, incurable, and man-made. Somehow
immune, Neville is now the last human survivor in what is left of New York
City and maybe the world. For three years, Neville has faithfully sent out daily
radio messages, desperate to find any other survivors who might be out
there. But he is not alone. The infected lurk in the shadows watching Neville's
every move...waiting for him to make a fatal mistake.


I have to make a few confessions. 1: I've never read Richard Matheson's
classic novel of the same name. I've had several opportunities to and I've
wanted to, but nothing ever panned out the way I'd hoped. 2: I've seen
Vincent Price's 'The Last Man on Earth' version. Granted I was much younger
when I saw it, I still got the vibe and main points of the film. I don't
remember too much of the Charlton Heston picture 'The Omega Man,' so
that's a dead end. So now we come to Will Smith's version which is the first
to hold the original title while wisely being a looser remake and being by far
the best remake of this year and one of the biggest surprises. Much as I do
like Will Smith, I'll say that I liked him more when I was younger. Probably
because I was an action/adventure kid and watched 'Independence Day' and
'Men in Black' on a religious basis like I watched 'Jurassic Park' and 'Raiders of
the Lost Ark'. Smith just fit into the role of cocky, fun, hero all too well. But
as I've grown and seen the world around me in much more different lights I
started to shy away from his work a bit.

I mean 'Bad Boys II' was guilty fun and his performance piece dramas 'Ali'
and 'The Pursuit of Happiness' were great. But his blockbuster fan fair like 'I,
Robot' and 'Men in Black II' weren't up to snuff. Here in 'I Am Legend' though
I find Smith at a cross roads. The film is the sort that when he was twenty
he'd have been exactly what we remember. But Smith is giving one
killer performance along with CGI monsters and a destroyed New York city
and damned to all who can't find fun in it all. The thing the film's trying to get
into your head is just how bad it could be being the last person on Earth.
Which in all honesty is hard to do without being boring or overly long, but
this film is neither. Clocking in around 101 minutes and working like a well
oiled machine, 'I Am Legend' gives you all character up front, emotion and
then the action that you've been craving in that third act. Could this have
been a summer film? 100% yes and one of the best ones. One of the hardest
things an actor would have to do is act by themselves.

That does include CGI characters, because when they're filming them, all they
see is a little ball or something. But to literally be talking to mannequins in a
video store who have names and outfits...that's another level. But for the
most if there was one co-star it was director Francis Lawrence who is on only
his second film, and boy did he jump up higher. A vet of the music video ring
and having only his film debut a few years back with the Keanu Reeves film
'Constantine', Lawerence's sophomore effort is astonishing. Great visual
style, but even better with characters...which is all you've got for 90% of the
film. Another great quality is the authenticity and originality of everything.
You don't feel like you're in a future or apocalypse you've been to before.
Huge buildings cover in plastic with bio hazard stamped on the side, wild
animals running about, dozen's upon dozens of trashed vehicles on
destroyed roads. It's real big budget end of the world craftsmanship. If
theres one knock I make it's against the monsters.

And really...really I find this to be a cheap shot considering the effects
companies that are out there trying to start up and the smaller ones that are
around and are doing what they can with what they've got. Not everyone can
be ILM or Wetta. But the monster's aren't 100% convincing. I mean in bult
they definitly get the blood pumping and are as crazed as a rage zombie, but
their overall look and design are somewhere between Frankenstein, Stephen
Sommer's Mummy and something from 'The Hills Have Eyes'. Again, cheap
shot, but the only one I have. So back to the goods: the pacing. For some
that are looking for just shoot em' up action you'll be left in the cold. As will
the person looking for a ton of jumps. For the most part the thrills in 'I Am
Legend' are the subtle ones and they work. They're not lead on by music or
booming sound effects, they're just subtle movements and motions. Will
Smith plays his Robert Neville character in that same fashion.

In his strangeness when acting around a well dressed female doll he acts the
same as if he's seen a beautiful woman in the store. The moments there are
for humor, but within that subtle humor is that creepy undertow. There's
that loneliness and sadness that he carries the whole film. You learn about
the virus through flashbacks. What lead up to it and what happened when it
became an pandemic and it's all done tastefully and intelligently and paced to
perfection. Personally I think this is Smith's best film, flat out. And his best
performance, flat out. For me it's also a cross roads watching it as I'm seeing
something that flings me right back to childhood and watching adventure
flicks, while mixing it with the more character driven fare that I look for a lot
more often now. This winter has yielded a lot of misfires and a lot of
disappointments and 'I Am Legend' is the first one to come out that's
incredibly surprising and is the perfect escape movie, a taunt thriller and a
compelling drama.

Overall: 9/10
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