I AM LEGEND
I don’t like zombie movies, and everything I saw told me that I Am Legend was a zombie movie. But I love Will Smith, and the trailers for this film, showing him to be the last surviving human in the world, were so intriguing that I knew I had to see it. I waited for the DVD so I could control just how much zombie imagery I had to endure, but I was still determined to see the film. My fears were completely unfounded.
Yes, there are creatures devoid of any humanity, and they do resemble a zombie-like being. Technically, they are not zombies, but they are close enough to make me extremely uncomfortable watching them. Thankfully, these creatures are not the film. Will Smith’s character is the film. Will Smith himself makes the film. Most of the first hour, save a couple of flashbacks, Smith is the only person on screen. His is the only dialogue you hear, and his acting companion is an expressive German Shepherd. But there really is no one else in the film but Smith. His performance is riveting. Heartbreaking. Painful. Because of his performance, I Am Legend is a very good film.
For an hour and a half I was fully caught up in the story of Dr. Neville (Smith) and his humane efforts to find a cure for the virus that has resulted in turning the world’s population into mutant creatures of the dark. His story is, first, one of survival, and also of diligence to the cause. Though his lack of human contact has led him to develop peculiar behaviors, he is fully devoted to reversing the virus and restoring humanity. And his pursuit is dogged. It is only when he reaches the moment of losing the one last thing he holds dear that his tenacity is called into question. As is his faith. The resulting events give the movie an edge of controversy, but the ending takes the high road. [Having seen an alternate ending, I would have preferred that the film ran with the controversy, as it would have been more dramatic.] Despite its flaws, I Am Legend is quite enjoyable, full of great moments that will put you on the edge of your seat and one of the best performances I’ve seen from Will Smith — most definitely his best in an action film. I can honestly recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys a good story, with or without creatures.
The experience of watching this film has taught me one important lesson: I will never be ashamed again to wait for a high-profile film to watch on DVD. It’s much better for me to be alone in my own home while watching these type movies. I simply cannot contain my reactions to adhere to acceptable societal standards of community, and I’d much rather not contain my squeals, cringes, screams, outbursts and fetal-position viewing. I need those kinds of releases while watching action/thriller/horror films, and I simply cannot be trusted to keep quiet and still in a public theater. So I’ll no longer apologize for bypassing a theater experience in favor of the 3-month wait for DVD. And if you happen by my window one day and hear screeching or screaming at people on the TV, don’t worry over it — just walk on by.
images from Rotten Tomatoes