Review: I Am Legend (2007)

I Am Legend

First, I want to be clear that I enjoyed this movie.

Second, I want it understood that I am disappointed in the adaptation of the SF Classic novel I Am Legend by Richard Matheson.

I can understand when a movie changes events from a book because of cinematographic or time constraint reasons, but to change the theme to the point where the title no longer fits, well, I think at that point there should be some obligation for the movie folks to make it clear that it has become a totally different story.

I liked this movie very much.  It had some plot elements in common with the Matheson novel, but not enough. During the first half of the movie, I had high hopes that the movie would be true to the novel.  In fact the first part of the movie was riveting.  Then during the second half the movie inexplicably takes the ending from “The Omega Man”, a 1970’s movie based on I Am Legend, and creates a typical Hollywood ending.  Ugh.  They should have given it a different title and only claimed it was inspired by I Am Legend.

As I have said, I did like the movie.  It is a very good action SF film.  The cinematography is marvelous, and for the most part the CGI is seamless.  I didn’t care for the zombiesque bad guys, but that is likely a personal preference showing through.

What I really liked was the acting.  Will Smith continues to impress me.  He has to carry this movie because for the most part he is the only person on screen.  He does it well.  His portrayal of Robert Neville is wonderful.  He gives us subtle emotions when it would have been easy to go over the top.  He convincingly walks the razor edge of madness and takes us there with him.

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4 Responses

  1. I loved this movie. Will Smith was fantastic. There were a few weak seconds in the special effects. As far as the changes from previous incarnations and the original book — I guess I should be happy that I haven’t been exposed to them, so I don’t know where the current movie deviated. Plot-wise, the entire movie was dependent upon Will Smith’s performance, so a lesser actor might have made it campy rather than terrifying and emotional.

    I have been inspired to try to find the original story, so that’s always a good thing.

  2. The worst part of the SFX for me was when the night person screamed and his jaw opened too wide, like all the reanimated dead in the modern Mummy movies.

    I would like to hear your opinion after you read the novel. I feel that the entire theme was changed. I am still trying to figure out what in the movie would make the Robert Neville character a Legend.

    As for Smith’s performance, the last time he visits the video store to keep the “promise” he made to Sam really got to me. Give credit to the director for not asking for campy. I will be looking to get this one on video when it is released.

  3. I think one advantage I had in going to the movie was that I really didn’t know anything about it. Recently, I have been avoiding previews, commercials, etc in favor of just going into a movie with no expectations.

    So…, I didn’t know anything about the disease people, and the scene where Will follows Sam into the darkened warehouse scared the crap out of me. The scene where his foot was in the noose scared th crap out of me. I generally find “scary” movies funny, so I was very impressed. People in the theater screamed when his light flashed on the sick people.

    I found most of the scenes with Sam touching, even the lecture on eating her veggies.

    As for SFX, I didn’t particularly like the ringleader “zombie” at all. His head was too long in general. I also didn’t think the lions were that well done.

  4. I agree with you on all points. I had forgotten about how the lions looked.

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