As I was watching the next film that I’m about to review, I kept thinking that I’d seen the plot before. It turns out that I had in a film called “Omega Man”, which starred Charlton Heston. This versiaon, “I Am Legend,” stars Will Smith in the lead role as Dr. Robert Neville, who may well be the last living human in the world.
The movie takes place in 2012, some three years after a biochemical disease originally established as a cure for cancer, mutates and turns most of the human race into zombies. They, in turn, feed upon one another until they manage to reduce the overall population significantly.
Neville, who was brought on board to find a cure for the disease when it first broke out in 2009, is still searching for the answer in 2012. But now he is alone.
Although he comes close to finding a cure from time to time, he ultimately fails over and over and over again; something that weighs heavily on both his heart and his mind. All that he has left in the world is an empty city full of merchandise and his dog, Sam.
Slowly, but surely, the audience watches as the good doctor’s mind begins to deteriorate under the pressure. When his dog is attacked and infected, and he is left totally alone, Neville’s mind cracks. He decides to end it all, but before he can, something else happens to prevent him from achieving that goal.
Ater that, it becomes a race against time, because the zombies become more and more aggressive. Neville knows it is only a matter of time before they discover where he lives. Before that happens, he must find a cure.
While the story remains true to the original film, it has been well updated to the times in which we now live. Smith proves to be the perfect choice for the hero. He has the quality that one would expect to find within someone who is willing to sacrifice all on behalf of the greater good.
It had to be difficult having the entire movie rest on the shoulders of one human being. Luckily Smith is both talented enough and mentally/emotionally strong enough to handle that kind of stress. And he has the screen presence to carry the film all on his own. His performance is nearly flawless.
However, the real star of this film is New York City itself. Seeing the sprawling metropolis so barren and desolate is difficult to watch and almost impossible to imagine.
The cinematography is also amazing. Some of the movie must be shot in the dark. That can be difficult. Oftentimes, what happens is that the audience must listen to what happens but actually can’t see more than shadows. Not so with this movie. The scenes are perfect rather shot in full sunlight or in pitch-blackness.
This is a difficult film to watch, however. That isn’t due to anything gory or violent. Such scenes are kept to a minimum. It is difficult because it rings “possible.” It is feasible that a biological virus could someday wipe out much of mankind. Anyone who doesn’t believe that is living in an unrealistic bubble.
It is also difficult to watch a man’s mind slowly give into insanity. I can’t begin to imagine how I would, or could, remain sane without anyone else to converse with; without another’s human touch; without some kine of link to humanity.
Those who aren’t sci-fi lovers may not like this film. Although it isn’t sci-fi in the purest form, it is a work of science fiction; albeit one that could come true.
Those who don’t want to face mankind’s inevitable extinction may not want to watch this film either. It hits some solid points home that you may not be ready to deal with.
Those who look for a film that just entertains probably won’t like this film either. I can’t call it entertaining. It is gritty and hard. It does hold a ray of hope but that isn’t realized until the last few frames of the film.
I think Francis Lawrence’s direction was as near perfect as Smith’s performance. Together, the two were able to weave a good film.
I liked this movie. I give it four stars out of five.