Carlton would have faired-off much better.
Virologist Robert Neville (Will Smith) and his doggy Sam, are left to roam throughout the rest of a desolate NYC, just after a virus has hit the Earth and pretty much wiped-out any signs of human-life throughout the globe. And how did it all start, you ask? Well, Neville himself actually caused the beginning of it through a new treatment that was going around to cure cancer, but instead, turned almost all humans into walking, roaring, angry, pissed-off, and rage-infested monsters that only come out at night, when there’s no sun anywhere to be found in the sky. Neville continues to search for a cure and to stay alive, but more than often, he finds himself coming up on loose-ends, without knowing when the clock is finally going to stop ticking and he’s going to give up, or when he’s finally going to get rescued. And yet, he continues to wait and wait, and wait.
What sets this flick apart from most of the other mainstream, zombie-invasion flicks out there is that this may have a crap-load of money, crap-load of places to film, and a crap-load of filler-scenes, but don’t be mistaken, this is not necessarily the type of mainstream, zombie movie you’re used to seeing and wasting $10 (plus more if you include over-priced snacks) on. Somehow, this one goes a bit deeper than that in the sense that it shows you this man, Robert Neville, practically all alone in this world by himself. There may be others out there looking for him, or searching the world for a cure or a way out of this crisis, but from what he knows, he’s the only one left alive.
In a way, due to Francis Lawrence’s approach for a good-chunk of the movie, you feel as if you’re watching something along the lines of Cast Away, minus Wilson and the Palm trees. Right as the movie begins, you’re thrown right into this world of pure-silence, where, if something or somebody was moving around, you’d be able to hear it just through the sheer-lack of anything else happening at all. It’s sad, yes, but Lawrence also injects some fun and humor to make up for the fact that this is essentially: One dude, one dog, and one deserted city, all to themselves. Which also means, plenty of time to golf wherever you want, steal whatever you want, from wherever you want and even get the chance to make-up fake friends with mannequins, where you can have imaginary, one-sided conversations to make it feel like you live in a normal, everyday-like world. Sucks that it isn’t true, but Neville doesn’t harp on this sad reality too much, and just takes everyday as he goes along, not knowing when its all going to come crashing down at any given time.
While this is all strangely, un-Hollywood-like, eventually, Francis Lawrence does realize that he has a huge budget to work with, and that ends up becoming the movie’s biggest-issue, despite all some impressive shots in the beginning. The fact that Lawrence was able to make NYC look like this post-apocalyptic, deserted wasteland is something to applaud, yet, given the fact that he was probably given a mucho amount of moolah to spend, it isn’t anything that noteworthy. Then again though, it’s still cool to see done on the big screen, especially since you can tell a lot of effort obviously went in to the way it looked, felt and seemed to be sought as a realistic look at the world’s end.
But like I said, the big budget ends up killing Lawrence’s ambitions because not all of the CGI here works, and instead, comes off as rather dodgy, where it seems like most of the attention was put into NYC itself, and less of the rage-infested vampires themselves. Given that the movie cost a lot of money, this is a beat of a disappointment, but then again, we have come a long, long way since the late-days of 2007, so maybe I shouldn’t get on this movie’s case too much about the special-effects being as up-to-par with what I’ve seen in the post-Avatar movie world. Though it was a bit hard to get past some of those problems, I eventually realized that at the end of the day, it’s better to just embrace the hard-effort put on by Lawrence and his crew, and look at the positives.And then that ending happened.
Without spoiling it all for you peeps out there who have yet to view this movie and see its ending, I’m just going to let you know on a little fact that the theatrical-release’s ending, is way different from the original, far-better ending. In the original ending, we get this sense that what Neville is fighting is more than just a bunch of angry, vampire-like things that are hungry for human-flesh and are chomping at the bit for their next flavoring-session, instead, he’s fighting something that somewhat resemble humans, with enough heart, humanity and understanding to come to terms with; but with the original ending, it’s all played-out as if it was some big, loud, action-packed, HURRAH moment that could have only come along with a big-budget, mainstream Will Smith movie, and not something that’s a little smarter and different, like we were initially promised from the first hour or so.
I’m sorry if I may have ruined the ending for some, but honestly, I don’t feel as if I have. You can check out the original ending online somewhere, I bet, and you can most likely make up your own mind. But as for me, the original ending should have been used, and is a lot more effective than just something that the major-studious probably forced to Lawrence to have, just so that “some” audiences could feel like they got their large helpings of soda and popcorn fully-deserved.
That said, the one aspect keeping this whole movie together, through the worst of times, and the best of times, is none other than the star of the show himself: Mr. Will muthafuckin’ Smith. Some people may not know this, but in case you don’t and need a simple reminder, let me let you in on a little something: Will Smith is freakin, bonafide movie star. He truly is, and he shows that he not only is capable as a charming fella that you’d love to spend time with, even if the world has practically turn to utter-crap, but that you’d be able to trust every judgement he makes. There are some questionable choices throughout this movie he decides to go through with, but you always get the sense that he’s doing it for the better for himself, for his trusted-doggie Sammy and the rest of mankind, or at least what’s left of it. We know he’s a good guy, and even though he practically spurred this whole infection on in the first place, it’s relatively easy enough for us to forgive him now because he’s making up for it in a hard-hitting way. Yet, he’s not asking for our sympathy and doesn’t want everybody to know how damaged he is, he just wants to survive and save the rest of the world from being fully-contaminated and ruined. Whatta man. Great performance from Smith that obviously gets a lot of attention as being that he’s the only human we see on-screen for awhile, but still makes every single second with him count and be believable.
Consensus: I Am Legend, despite all of the pit-falls it hits with its patched-on ending and dodgy-CGI bits, is still one hell of a survival flick that never leaves you feeling like you know what’s going to happen next, no matter how many times you’ve seen it (fifth time for yours truly).
7.5 / 10 = Rental!!