Sunday, February 10, 2008

REVIEW: I Am Legend

I Am Legend

Year: 2007
Director: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Will Smith, Alice Braga, Charlie Tahan, Salli Richardson, Willow Smith
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
MPAA: Rated PG-13

I Am Legend is the 3rd film to be based on Richard Matheson's famous novel with the first two being The Last Man on Earth and The Omega Man. When I first saw the trailer for this movie, I thought to myself "another 28 Days Later?". I wasn't really interested in the movie since its story has basically been seen by many people with other films resembling this movies plot. Not even Will Smith starring in it convinced me. However, me not wanting to see this movie didn't stop it from being a big success. The movie grossed an estimated $558 million worldwide on a budget of $150 million. I was quite surprised on how well this movie did in theaters.

Plot Outline:
Robert Neville (Will Smith) is the only man to survive the worldwide apocalypse due to a viral disease that has killed most of the human race and left the remaining humans as flesh eating zombies called Dark Seekers. These infected people cannot come out in the light and can only come out in the dark to search for food. Robert and his dog Sam roam around the deserted streets of New York every day to search for food. He also waits for some other survivors to contact him or he works in his lab to find a viral cure. Robert encounters his own memories of his lovely wife and daughter who aren't with him.

This marks the 3rd film based on Richard Matheson's famous novel so we already know whats coming. The movie is told through a series of flashbacks that gives us an idea of what happened. Whats weird is that this film is kind of a remake to The Omega Man which basically had the same characters as this film and changed a few things from the novel. This is kind of a stupid move in my opinion. Why would they remake a movie that's gotten certain things changed from the actual novel instead of going from scrap and following the novel like it should have. Now, I haven't seen the first two remakes of the film, but I have read several forums from people citing that I Am Legend is nothing more than an Omega Man ripoff instead of an actual movie based on the novel. Now with this all said, I Am Legend is still a pretty good film. Its entertaining and has you sucked into the story as if you cant look away. The ending for the film is pretty weak and straight forward. It doesn't answer some questions that the audience might have.

The cast for the film is great. If their is something I have to give credit for in this movie, its the cast even though Will Smith is basically the only cast member mostly on the screen. Will Smith plays the main character Robert Neville and he gives a great performance. Smith is at a stage in his life where hes able to pull off a great performance and it really shows in this movie. We also get Alice Braga playing Anna and she does a pretty good job in her role although her character doesn't appear until the final act of the movie. Charlie Tahan plays Ethan and his role is really short in the film. He hardly talks much seeing how hes a kid, but I guess he does atleast look the part. Overall, I'm really satisfied with the cast. I think they did a great job in the movie.

The visual effects for the film are also a hit and miss situation. The city of New York looks great with alot of detail very present through out the streets. Buildings look very lovely and kind of bright with a hench of darkness. With this said, the movie has some pretty bad CGI effects mainly with the Dark Seekers. From far away they look pretty good with their face and motion resembling the zombies from 28 Days Later. When the Dark Seekers are close up on the screen, they look pretty bad with what looks like poor CGI effects. Their are older movies that make this movie look like crap in the visual department. Which is kind of sad considering this film is a recent production and how far technology has come.

The music for the film is kind of transparent. The soundtrack is composed by James Newton Howard who also composed many other hits such as Batman Begins and King Kong. The movie looks like its got its own score built from the ground up for this movie, but its hardly used enough. I mean the score is pretty good when its playing during the movie, but it isn't used enough. The main portion of the film is in dialogue with many parts where we get narration from Will Smith's character. For the most part, the dialogue seems pretty crisp and clear. The movie doesn't really offer alot in the bass department with only a few rumbles here and there, but its nowhere near as aggressive as Cloverfield.

I Am Legend feels kind of like a missed opportunity. I really wish the studio went with the actual novel rather than the previous film for its story. With this said, the story is still good especially for those who haven't seen the previous remakes. The cast is great with many of them giving out great performances. The visual effects of New York city is really great to watch, but the CGI work on the Dark Seekers are pretty disappointing. The music although pretty good is hardly used much through out the movie. I thought this movie was great and really made you feel like your isolated from everything. I would give recommend this movie to anyone who's into some action adventure, but be warned that its basically a remake of something that's been released a long time ago.

Grade: B-

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