Wednesday, December 26, 2007

I am Legend

The husband and I went to see "I am Legend" a week ago Saturday. We were able to do so because my mom called and wanted the kid for the night, a one night pass from "baby jail".

Now my husband and I have both read the book by Richard Matheson. It's a great book, short but intense. If you aren't a fan or horror and have passed this book by because it's in the horror section, reconsider. It is an amazing character study and looks at the true nature of good and evil. If you enjoyed the movies "Somewhere in Time" and "What Dreams May Come", I strongly suggest reading all three books by Matheson.

I know many people were weary of Will Smith being in the role of Robert Neville because they think of "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air" or "Men in Black". If you have never seen the episode of "Fresh Prince" when Will is shot by a mugger, I highly recommend it. You will also see that even in those early years he had some serious acting chops. I was not concerned with Will's acting ability but with possible directoral choices. I was very afraid they would have him do his catch phrase from Independence Day, "Ah, hell no!" They didn't do it.

Now onto the actual film...

For most of the movie Robert Neville is alone, except for his dog, after a virus rips through the human race, either killing them or causing them to attack their fellow humans. We discover about him through flashbacks that show his wife and daughter. At the opening of the movie Neville has been alone for 3 years, and is showing signs of losing his mind, though the signs are very subtle. The director used a great combination of subtle techniques to show Neville's mind starting to slip, including his dialogue, body language and interaction with his environment. We see Neville clinging to daily rituals, partly out of survival necessity and partly to maintain his sanity. In this updated version, he is a scientist/soldier that was part of the team to cure the virus, and though he thinks he is the only person left alive he continues to seek a cure. This was also true in the Charleton Heston version, "Omega Man," though it was not true in the book. The writer and director did a great job of adapting the book to film for the most part. They did alter the mentality of the infected to an animal state of intelligence, with the exception of the alpha male, while in the book they retain their human intelligence. Sadly, they did alter the ending and lose the message of the novel. I will not explain how the ending was altered as that will spoil both the movie and the book.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie a lot.

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