I Am Legend [2007]


A warning to all. It has come to my attention that a lot of people are disappointed with how the ending of the film turned out. Don’t worry, this does not contain any spoilers of any sort. This is to those who found the ending to be poorly written, disappointing, etc… Well, take these things into consideration. The film is PG-13 and was released before Christmas. What do you think the odds are of a film that’s supposed to be a box office smash having a morbid ending? Especially come Christmas time. It’s ludicris to expect something other than a nice ending to close an entertaining, ‘mind you’ PG flick. Comparing it to an indie, R rated Sunshine is not fair. Just consider that. Along with the fact that it was adapted from a novel with the same ending.

This years winter blockbuster arrives in the form of I Am Legend. A post apocalyptic story about a virus taking over the world before scientists could contain it. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the film. Not a single moment of boredom, and a lot of thrilling moments. Francis Lawrence’s direction of the film was very balanced. He knew when to throw in comedic moments. He knew when to make the audience jump. He even knew when to make the audience shed a tear. A very well devised sci-fi flick, in my eyes. Lawrence’s take on the well written material was interesting. He chose to follow the thought process of Danny Boyle and make most of the film fairly plain; showing isolated life, how to survive, daily routine, etc… Very beautiful direction, keeping the ‘terror’ at a standby, and not relying on it to keep the audience interested. Very good direction for a sci-fi flick.The screenplay – adapted from the novel of the same name – was very interesting. Not a lot of dialog, for the film was set in a post-apocalyptic state and revolves around one man trying to cure the infection. The screenplay was written by Mark Protosevich and Akiva Goldsman (the team who brought Poseidon to the big screen). Surprisingly, it was fine. They didn’t have a lot to work with, so that was a relief. It’s best the film was very ‘quiet’ because I assume if it were any bigger, they would’ve destroyed the concept. With the dialog they provided, they brought dramatic moments, as well as hilarious moments. Not to say that the film was a comedy by any means, but Smith always finds a way to make the audience laugh. I can’t complain about the ending, or the final third of the film. It was all great stuff, and the final third didn’t take away too much from the film. Sure, predictable stuff, but as I mentioned above – what could won expect? A very fun ride, just wish it was a bit longer.

To talk about the acting, I will make it simple. I will only discuss the performance by one Will Smith. All other performances in the film were alright, nothing special at all.Will Smith. The most successful actor of all time, I’d say. Nothing but huge openings and occasional wonderful performances. This man can act. He’s shown us time and time again he can. He just prefers to do fun roles, and who can blame him? He makes millions, has a blast and gets nominated for Oscars. This may be the first time all three combine. Yes, last year he was nominated for a comedy/drama starring him and his son. It also made over 100 million. I just cannot imagine it being as much fun to make, as this film was. The excitement that Smith creates in audiences everywhere is profound. Never before has an actor been able to be powerful emotionally, after shooting a bunch of bad guys. He is the superstar of our time.

Onto the performance in I Am Legend. For about 90 minutes of the 101 minute running time, Will Smith is on his own, doing what he does best; making the audience enjoy themselves. This isn’t the first time he’s stepped into sci-fi territory. Previous experiences being Men in Black and Independence Day. Not until now has he mixed his heartbreaking prowess with his gun-toting slickness. A heavily well rounded performance that works on every level imaginable.

Knowing Will Smith from previous flicks, you know he has a knack for making the audience think back to his humorous moments. In the first third, Smith’s character comes off as peaceful, full of life and making the best of things. As the film progresses, we see that underneath the man, there lays an animal. No, not in the typical ‘rabid, illness infested’ animal. Rather a man dying inside, using his last amounts of hope to try to revive what he’s lost.

Told through flashbacks, we can see that “Robert Neville” wasn’t put in the best position. His trials have been piling up day by day, making life a living hell for the most part. His dreams are constant reminders; telling him to give up all hope. He struggles to cope without family, friends and the rest of everyday living. The sorrow in eyes fill the screen. Disappointments ensue, and Neville dies a little inside.

With this, Smith brings to the table an eccentric feel to his isolation. Frame by frame, Smith picks apart his character as he begins to lose hope. He does this in several ways. He shows the mental crumbling of the man that is Robert Neville. When the social inactivity beings to take it’s undying toll, you can see the man who once was as intelligent as they come, resorting to talking to fictitious people. Barely gathering enough courage to talk to ones that he ‘doesn’t know’. When he finally comes to and attempts some interactivity, there is no one there to respond… not even himself. The inevitable happens, and the casket in Robert’s mind blows, Smith is relentless with his psychotic warfare. Digging deeper than I’ve ever seen him, to pull something devastating and traumatizing from deep within him.

By the end of the film, we see that Neville has all but given up hope. He struggles to make it through the days; even with a new found purpose. He’s lost it all, including his mind. He’s lost all hope, including his faith. The man we once saw as a hero, as a savior, as the world’s only hope, is now a shriveled up, grief filled mess.

In closing, Will Smith’s ideals for this performance were spot on. Nailing every element he came across; especially the emotional ones. From laughing out loud to experiencing tear shed, Will Smith’s performance makes us see into what everybody on this earth is at their core – a frail train wreck waiting to happen.

I could go on and on, but don’t want to risk spoiling this gracious performance for you.

The technical aspects are being talked about very fruitlessly – as if they have no worth. When in actuality, they were as fine as I’ve seen this year.The visual effects are as good as they could be in this situation. They aren’t overused, because if they were the film would’ve lost a lot of it’s ‘calming’ stature. The work on the infected was great. They looked fairly real and were terrifying. Besides that, there weren’t many effects for the film to work with.

The film editing was great. Fast pacing, wonderful timing for flashbacks, perfect lengths for each scene; it was very pleasing. All scenes – even the scenes that seem pointless – have some sort of meaning, you just need to look for it. This makes the film ever the more entertaining. It also enhances the pleasure of ‘film buffs’, who always look for pointless scenes.

The sound editing was excellent, and definitely some of the best of the year. In the dream sequences, deafening sounds are deafening. In one segment, all sound goes off, except for a faded propeller. There’s also a lot of calming silences, other than a dog barking, a single gunshot, et cetera. This also helped heighten the score out in some situations, which helped the overall beauty of the film.

The cinematography was good. It was absolutely gorgeous in plenty of scenes, but overall pretty normal. A lot of plain shots flooded the film. Scattered all around the flood were moments of extravagance. A few wonderful scenes of sunrising and sunsetting. The best use of cinematography in the film was by far in the containment lab. Wonderful use of lighting, great movement; just the photographies ‘outstanding’ area. It really seemed like Oscar winning photographer Andrew Lesnie wasn’t exactly giving the film it’s all, or the cinematography could’ve been nomination worthy.

The score by James Newton Howard was fantastic in every definition of the word. His composition is his best of the year. This is including his grand work on both The Lookout and Michael Clayton. It enhances inner clarity when there is calming moments, but also has pulsating elements that enhance intense moments. Such a beautiful composition. One of the best of the year, easily.

Nominations for I Am Legend
Best Actor in a Leading Role – Will Smith (#2)
Best Sound Editing – (#5)
Best Original Score – James Newton Howard (#5)

Overall : 8/10


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