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I am Legend

It is about… a post apocalyptic world where a virus decimates the world’s population. Only two groups are left: overheated, albino, rabid monsters which only come out at night and Robert Neville – soldier and scientist extraordinaire. The movie focuses on Robert Neville (Will Smith) as he goes through his daily routine: sending out radio distress communications; hunting deer; checking in and out DVDs; testing cures on infected rats and cowering in his bath-tub at night. The movie ends when Neville blows himself up and a horde of invading ravenous monsters to save a woman, her child and the cure to the virus. The movie is very loosely adapted from Richard Matheson’s book of the same name.
The Good: Will Smith. The actor, known for his goofy and crowd-pleasing roles, is brillant as Robert Neville. Early in the movie, Smith masks Neville’s night-time fears and near madness with his daily routine and streetwise jocularity. The turning point comes when Sam (his dog and only companion) is infected by the virus and is killed by Neville. From then on, Smith’s portrayal of a man breaking down under the dual stresses of being alone and fighting monsters for too long is heart-wrenching.
Take for example, the scene when he chats up a mannequin at a video store: "Hello. My friend said I should come over and say Hello to you. Hello." At this point in time, we think there’s something wrong with him. He is making a joke. A tasteless, unsmiling joke. As he continues on his monologue, his eyes redden and water. He begs and pleads with the mannequin, "Please say Hello. Please say anything." Then we know that Smith is at the very end of his sanity and is about to do something incredibly stupid in the next scene.
Finally, his buff body – during the workout scenes – is certainly something for his adoring fans.
The Bad: The ending. It ties up the movie’s loose ends, gives us hope but it is, undeniably, a slap-dash and insipid ending. It feels as if the director / writer has just realised that the movie’s at the 110 minute mark; any longer and production costs will go through the roof! We thought Neville – after his near death and near madness – deserved better than a summer blockbuster Happy Happy Joy Joy cop-out.
The Ugly: Story fake-outs. The movie tells us that the monsters are little more than animals. It doesn’t ring true to us. For examples: the male who exposed himself to sunlight after Neville captured the female suggested that a rudimentry society was being formed. Neville getting trapped – via a snare – in the same way as him trapping the female, suggests cunning and not a little intellect on the lead monster’s part. Thus, when the monsters invaded and tore apart Neville’s home, we were expecting a capture and subsequent exposure to a new monster society.
The monsters are a close second. They look like Gollums on steroids.
Overall: Great characterisation. Disappointing story and premise which were covered in more entertaining ways by other Zombie flicks – Romero’s Day of the Dead, Resident Evil. If a society of ‘smart’ monsters were included, then the movie would have been better. Best watched on a nothing-else-to-do day or if you’re dying for good acting.
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