I Am Legend

Movie Review by EDF

Starring: Will Smith, Alice Braga, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Willow Smith
Director: Francis Lawrence

How many times have science fiction movies killed off the whole human race albeit a few survivors? Don’t be too surprised if you have lost count because I certainly have. So we are now presented with more of the same, actually a remake, so why bother with it. This particular production has been floating around since the 1990’s with Ridley Scott and, good grief, Arnold Schwarzenegger attached to the project. After several more directors and stars fell by the wayside, we now have Francis Lawrence directing and Will Smith starring in what is actually a very gripping and tense movie.

When a deadly man-made virus threatens to wipe out the human population, soldier and scientist Robert Neville (Will Smith) is somehow immune and stays in an evacuated New York, believing that the city is ground zero to the virus. Three years later, Neville believes that he is the last human alive in New York City and along with his dog Sam, they roam the streets which is looking more like a jungle at each passing day as weeds and undergrowth take hold. Wild animals roam around the streets, which Neville hunts them down for food every day. At night, he locks up his property and is surrounded by wild snarling sounds from outside. Frightened, he keeps Sam close to him and his guns and other weapons even closer.

Even though the virus did not kill everybody, those that were infected have mutated into blood sucking beasts that can only come out when the sun has set. Neville is determined to find a cure and regularly captures ‘The Infected’ to perform tests on them. After three years of testing and not finding much luck in finding a cure, loneliness creeps up on Neville and his sanity slowly begins to unravel. While he desperately hopes that someone will respond to his daily message broadcast on the AM frequency, no one does. As time passes, Neville starts getting a little bit careless, even jumping at shadows. Which will Neville lose first, his sanity or his life?

It is difficult not to make the initial comparison to Tom Hanks’ stuck on a desert island movie CASTAWAY, and this is where the comparison ends. What you have is an engrossing movie where you find yourself getting caught up in Will Smith’s character. We find out his back story through a serious of flashbacks. Even though a portion of the movie is one man and his dog versus the unknown, when Neville eventually faces The Infected, those scenes are tense and sometimes so scary that you dread watching the screen. The only let down in the whole movie is the way the CGI Infected move, especially when there is a group of them, as their movements are not that believable. Other than that, this is a step away from the usual big action movie, where there is more substance in the characters than there should be. New York as a deserted city is such a spectacular setting that you wonder how they shot some of the scenes in a city that seemingly never sleeps. This is not to be missed and definitely needs to be seen on the big screen.

5 out of 6 stars