This is the third time Richard Matheson’s novel has been adapted into a movie. The first two, The Last Man On Earth and The Omega Man, were campy and fun in their own way, but not much more. Will Smith’s latest, I Am Legend, if the first movie to do the story justice. The previews had me really excited for this one, so I was a little worried when I read reviews saying that the movie really reached up there, but ultimately fell short. However, after checking it out myself, I’m happy to say that Legend is probably one of the best films of the year, and a contender for my coveted Top Three of 2007, which all films aspire to be.
The plot is pretty straightforward. Robert Neville (Smith) is a scientist studying a supervirus that’s killed off 90% of the world’s population. Those who aren’t dead or immune have been turned into vampires that either lurch around like zombies or come at you like Zinedine Zidane on gameday. Living in an abandoned New York City in the year 2012, Neville spends his days hunting deer, practicing his drive and searching for a cure. I don’t want to give anything away, but things go wrong. HORRIBLY wrong.
This is an action movie with a lot of action movie staples in it, but what sets it apart from some of the other flops we’ve seen this year is Will Smith. 95% of the movie is Smith all by himself. The fact that he’s able to carry it, and carry it well, is really a testament to the man’s acting chops. There’s a lot of good suspense. The movie isn’t predictable so you’ll be on the edge of your seat a lot of the time. I’m a huge sci-fi fan, so I spend most of my time sad that there are so few people who can do the genre any justice. Legend is a welcome change of pace.
I only had two problems with the film. First, I didn’t like the the CGI vampires Smith is trying to save. The idea is cool, and it was executed about as well as it could be, but in the end they look like zombie versions of Imhotep from The Mummy. Second, the ending felt a little rushed to me. For everything that came before it, it just felt out of place. I won’t go into detail because the three people who read this blog might not have seen the movie yet.
All in all, a very enjoyable film. A great story, and Will Smith is fantastic. Four out of five stars. We’ll be back next week with Charlie Wilson’s War. Until then, I need to catch a cab. I’ll make sure the license plate says “fresh” and there’s a dice in the mirror.