clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Movie Review: "I Am Legend"

Many of you may have seen Will Smith's new star vehicle already; in case you haven't, here's a quick review of this holiday-time action film.

This is the third time that a film has been made based on Robert Matheson's 1954 novel: "The Last Man On Earth", starring Vincent Price (about the last actor I'd think of when I think of this role), was made in 1964, and the 1971 film "The Omega Man", with the second-to-last guy I'd want in that role (Charlton Heston).

The basic story, if you have been avoiding entertainment shows, trailers and magazines for months: a scientist (Emma Thompson, who is uncredited) has found a viral cure for cancer. Unfortunately, it backfires and three years later it has killed off 90% of humanity, and 99% of the rest (along with many animals) have been turned into pale, hairless zombies that jump around every corner and yell like lions (how else would you make this a horror/action flick, without loud noises at unexpected times?).

Smith plays Robert Neville, a colonel in the military whose wife and child are being evacuated from Manhattan before it is quarantined (I won't ruin the method if you haven't seen the movie -- the scenes of evacuation and quarantine are shown in multiple flashbacks that Neville has in dreams). He winds up as the last living human in New York -- every single other being has been infected.

The rest of the film shows various fights he has with the zombies, his attempts to find a cure for the infection, and most affectingly, his relationship with his dog, who is also immune -- mostly. The two of them ride in various vehicles through a New York covered with weeds and with buildings half-destroyed.

That's the coolest part of this film -- the CGI effects, both how they made NYC look abandoned (apparently, they got permission to shut down streets for long periods of time, and actually imported weeds from Florida -- those aren't CGI), and the zombies.

The rest of the movie -- not so much. There are quite a number of plot holes and questions raised that, if you got a reasonable answer to them, would make you say, "This writing is ridiculous!" But that's not why this movie is entertaining. Like many of its type, its purpose is to provide 101 minutes of escapist entertainment on a weekend evening. And it accomplished that goal quite well. Will Smith is excellent as usual; there aren't many speaking roles in this film, and one of the other ones goes to another survivor who shows up, suddenly (and if you think too much about how she gets there, you'll drive some more holes through the plot), and from there, the film drives to a relentless, and actually somewhat happy, conclusion.