Will Smith endures solitude in ‘I Am Legend’
Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, what with global warming invading the planet and all, along comes another catastrophic human-induced mess that threatens the existence of our species.
Starring Will Smith and based on the 1954 Richard Matheson book of the same name, “I Am Legend” once again shows what can happen when you go and try to alter the course of Mother Nature. Not that humans haven’t created some positive things while experimenting with viruses – but the missteps sure have consequences.
Smith plays military virologist Robert Neville, who has survived the manmade virus wiping out the entire population – but is he truly alone?
Based in New York, the city is a skyscraper ghost town, and it’s an eerie effect having it deserted. Believing there might be another living soul somewhere out there, Neville soon starts sending out a daily broadcast to see if anyone out there is listening. Suffice to say, there is someone … but exactly who and what is another question. Let’s just say there is a horrible side effect to the virus.
There are moments in the film that are breathtaking, and I’m not referring to the CGI effects, either. No, the very long scenes where Smith has to carry the film completely on his own were remarkable. Remember the movie “Cast Away,” where Tom Hanks literally carried the movie for some 80 minutes all on his own? Not even incidental music, just the crashing of the waves on a deserted island as Hanks talked to a volleyball. That was it. Here, Smith does a convincingly good job doing the same thing, but at least he gets to talk to a dog. The idea of being the last man on Earth is a daunting one, and not knowing what tomorrow makes it even more harrowing.
This isn’t the first time a movie has been made based on Matheson’s work. In 1971, “The Omega Man” starring Charlton Heston was released. Before that, there was “The Last Man on Earth,” starring Vincent Price from 1964. With “I Am Legend,” director Francis Lawrence remains true to the book, and, if you’ve read his work, you know what that includes: “The Infected,” or humans in mutated form! Keep that in mind when watching this. Like being alone wasn’t bad enough, now try finding a cure while Dark Seekers want to infect you.
Some of the scenes in the flick seem somewhat far-fetched, but, given the sci-fi nature, anything is possible. I just wonder if any movie depicting the near future is ever going to be an optimistic one or continue to show the planet as one giant meltdown of humanity.
– Howie Nave is host/manager of The Improv comedy club inside Harveys and reviews films for seven radio stations throughout Northern California and Nevada, including Sirius Radio. He hosts “Howie’s Morning Rush” on Tahoe’s KRLT radio, and you can see his film reviews on RSN.