I just got back from seeing I am Legend at the local theater, and boy was I ever wrong about Will Smith. In a previous article, I expressed misgivings about casting Mr. Smith in the lead roll for this movie. I have to say I was wrong. He did a marvelous job playing; Robert Neville the last man on earth, brilliant scientist, and duty bound Army Major. I had many doubts about this movie, mostly from pre-conceptions I had about the lead actor, and from the many reviews I had read prior to leaving for the theater. I should know better.
I found the movie to be refreshing and thought provoking. It reminded me of science fiction movies of the fifties and sixties where the story and acting were more important than the special effects. The special effects were good but not over the top like we are used to. I loved the look of NY with weeds growing up through the cracks, the plastic tarps, wild animals, and the sounds of the empty city. It was quiet enough to hear insects. I honestly enjoyed the movie from beginning to end.
In retrospect I think what I enjoyed most wasn’t what the movie attempted to do, but the traps that it avoided. The story didn’t try to make a political statement about population control, police state over reactions, or other obvious targets. It didn’t try to establish any romantic involvement between the star and the woman who saves him. There weren’t any cheap shots against evil corporations exploiting people for obscene profits. There was, however, a lot of the plot that was purposely left open ended. I believe this was done, not due to poor editing, but as an exercise for the imaginations of the viewers.
I have to disagree with the assessments of a lot of reviewers who were disappointed with the conclusion of the movie. Some of the CGI special effects were trite and predictable, however they were not necessary to the plot, so whether the infected humans were bald fierce CGI monsters on speed, shambling blue faced zombies, or bloody rampaging humans, they were simply a threat and didn’t deter from my enjoyment of the movie. Another perspective of the creatures was subtly eluded too, they were trying to survive. They are monsters to be sure, but so are starving loins.
Good job Will. I am sorry I doubted your ability to pull this off.