Monday, February 13, 2012

100 Movies - No. 45: I Am Legend

45. I Am Legend (2007)
Drama, Science Fiction, Thriller, 101 minutes
Directed by Francis Lawrence
Starring Will Smith and Alice Braga

Will Smith is one of the biggest box office draws, whether it's for action, comedy or drama. He has the charisma to pull off just about any role and is improving as a dramatic actor as he matures. I Am Legend contains some action, but it's a futuristic drama more than anything else. Smith is required to show considerable range.

The movie makes this list because it shows how people adapt in extreme situations. Robert Neville (Smith) is possibly the last man alive after a cure for cancer turns people into aggressive zombie-like creatures who live in the dark. He's a scientist and appears to have a natural immunity to the virus. He's trying to develop a vaccine that will help these creatures recover their humanity.

Imagine if you had an entire city to yourself. How would you spend your time? Neville has a routine. He wakes up at the same time each day, works out, and then systematically searches the buildings in the area for canned food and bottled water. This is vital for his survival. He also continues his research and tries out his vaccines on laboratory rats. In order to maintain the illusion that he's not alone, he watches recorded TV shows and talks to mannequins while he works his way through the inventory of a local video store. Every day at Noon, he waits at a predetermined location for any response to his radio messages offering hope and shelter to other survivors.

New York is an abandoned city. Grass has reclaimed most of the land and Neville has to compete with lions when he goes hunting for dear. The early special effects are very convincing and we are drawn in to Neville's world. Some of the exposition is achieved through showing Neville's dreams and we discover that his wife and daughter were evacuated along with the other healthy people left in the city. His only friend now is Sam, his dog. Unlike Neville, Sam can be affected by contact with the creatures roaming the city.

One of the saddest scenes in the movie comes after Sam is bitten by a creature carrying the virus. He injects her with serum in the hope that it will prevent her from transforming into a deadly version of his former companion. If you are an animal-lover, it's a hard scene to watch.

I won't ruin the movie for those who haven't seen it. Is Neville really alone? Will he develop a cure? If he does, will it even be possible to capture the creatures and successfully administer the cure?

The film raises a serious question; are humans the biggest threat to their own survival?

The Blu-ray includes an alternate ending. Both endings are hopeful, but one is considerably more hopeful than the other. The Blu-ray presentation is just about perfect.

If you like I Am Legend:

The solitude experienced by Neville reminds me of Cast Away and 127 Hours. All three films require the main actor to carry the story throughout. If you enjoy science fiction and Smith's acting, I, Robot has plenty to offer.

I'm also a fan of post-apocalyptic movies in general. A few which are worth your time include The Road, Children of Men and The Stand miniseries.

Return to index of 100 movies to see before you die.

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  1. Thanks. A lot of people don't like I Am Legend or Smith's performance. It works for me.