Tuesday, July 8, 2008

I Am Legend Review

One of the first things I noticed was that the film's atmosphere is horrifyingly intense, and at times, depressing. However, just because it's not everyone's cup of tea doesn't mean I Am Legend shouldn't be recognized as a shining example of a zombie film done very well.

Please excuse a brief "spoiler": The film opens to a TV interview with a female scientist who has found the cure for cancer. But has she? After this brief sequence, we skip three years ahead and are shown a New York City completely devoid of human life. What happened here? It's not hard to guess, but maybe that's why it's such a fantastic hook.

As it turns out, there's only one true man left in New York, perhaps the world. Robert Neville, played by Will Smith, has been living off deer and canned food for years, working to create a cure for a deadly virus that has seized the entire planet. Hosts of the virus experience a massive increase in aggression and a decrease in intelligence. Basically very fast and powerful zombies, they are killed by exposure to sunlight but remain a huge threat at night, the only time they can be found and used as a test subject.

For some of the movie, I found the pace very much like No Country For Old Men; slow, detailed, and steady. The action sequences, however, really stand out, being somehow, amazingly, both physically and emotionally intense. Much of the quality of these scenes should be credited to Will Smith, who was amazingly sincere. Some scenes were so specifically emotional that if anyone besides Smith had acted it out I probably would've laughed instead of taken it seriously.

Zombie movies may have developed something of a bad name over the years, but I Am Legend has shown me there's still life in the sub-genre yet.

Pros: Immersive storyline communicates a deep meaning. Will Smith is genuinely convincing.

Cons: Kind of depressing. Some people may not appreciate the detailed slowness of the first act.

Rating: 8 out of 10

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