Before I talk about the movie, I thought I’d talk about the venue because, well, it took away from the movie-going experience. I like to watch movies with no interruptions. (That’s right guy-who-forgets-to-turn-off-cell-phone…I’m talking to you, too.) It’s all about the immersion and I can’t do that when I’m giving my order, keep looking at my plate, worrying about cutting my grilled chicken (tasty though it may be), looking for refills (stop watching the movie, hand the cup to the waiter, tell him what I’m drinking), etc. “Wait, did I just miss something on screen? Bah!” The reverse is also true – it’s hard to appreciate a meal when you’re trying to blindly shovel it in so you don’t miss the movie. The bottom line, I suppose, is that meals are much more complicated than popcorn! Each experience (eating a meal, watching a movie) takes away from the other. You would think that the two experiences would complement one another, but it turns out they don’t.
This is not a formal review of I Am Legend. There are a bazillion of those already. However, taking a cue from Peter Watts, I did think it was worthwhile to list my impressions.
*** SPOILER WARNING ***
- Overall, the movie was bleak as bleak could be. Bravo! Not the feel-good movie of the holiday season, this.
- The scenes of abandoned New York City streets were awesome. It was creepy simply because of its contradictory imagery: urban areas built to accommodate large populations looking like ghost towns.
- Will Smith’s performance was top notch, especially considering he rarely had anyone to play against. (Well, except the dog.) His descent into Loony Land was well done.
- There was lots of quiet time in the film that left time to contemplate: How would a person mentally survive such a situation? What would you do? Would you hold out for rescue? Take your own life? Try to find others?
- The scene where Neville, in his descent to madness from loneliness, falls into his own trap was incredibly intense and, to me, one of the best scenes in the film.
- The “scariest” scenes, as others have indicated, were the ones where the monsters were lurking nearby but off-screen.
- When the monsters did appear, they were obviously digitally generated. Oh well.
- The monsters in the film were a hybrid of vampire and zombie. That is, they avoided sunlight (like vampires) but could be brought back to life from the dead (like zombies) via an injection of the virus that started it all.
- One inherent difference from the book that completely changed the tone of the film was that, in the book, Neville spent his time killing the vampires, but in the movie, Will Smith was a military scientist who sought to save the vampire/zombies.
- In-movie product placement was more rampant than the virus and a little distracting.
- I am not aware of what the originally filmed ending was, but the one that was in the film – a seemingly last-minute attempt to introduce hope in a sea of despair – totally ruined the mood. In my mind, the real ending was much darker and made for a better story.
Overall, it was a very good film. Don’t go expecting to see a faithful adaptation of the book – something you should never do anyway – but check it out if you can.