"I Am Legend"

We saw “I Am Legend” last night. Of all the movies to see on Christmas Day, this wasn’t a good one to pick. Not because it wasn’t an excellent movie; Will Smith did a fabulous job of portraying a man alone in a city full of monsters that want to eat him. No, it was because of the intensity. This movie drilled deep enough into my psyche that I (we!) had to go home and watch “The Parent Trap” while drinking rum-spiked hot chocolate in order to decompress.

Spoilers ahoy!

Will Smith portrayed a doctor (Robert Neville) alone on Manhattan who has been striving for three years to cure a virus that has caused the entire world to turn into crazed wild beasts bent on devouring everything and everybody. His only companions are a dog (who does the best non-human sidekick since Wilson-the-volleyball in “Cast Away”), and the mannequins that Robert has erected at his video store to keep him company. One of the mannequins also plays a spine-tingling role during the course of the movie, just by standing in the wrong place (still gives me the willies).

I’ve heard from sources that while the book and the movie are closely aligned for the first two thirds, the book ends much more effectively than the movie. I believe it. Although the ending of the movie is good, it assumes some things that I thought were a bit campy. And I still wonder where Doctor Neville got his all-up medical laboratory in the basement of his Washington Park mansion, or how Lt. Colonel Doctor Neville could afford that Washington Park mansion in the first place. His wife must have been rich.

Some aspects of the movie were predictable and obvious, from the final assault on the dude’s house to the dog dying. None of those surprised me. I’m interested in reading the book because during the course of the movie there were implications that one of the Alpha Monsters was showing more “human-ness” than Doctor Neville was willing to admit was possible, but they didn’t explore it at all. There were other things in the movie that only made sense after the fact, that were probably dug out of the novel, but not explored during the movie to keep time down.

Overall, it’s a Thumbs Up from me, although I probably won’t watch it again. It was INTENSE, and I generally don’t like intense movies. I’m an escapist person when it comes to entertainment. This wasn’t escapist.

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3 Responses to "I Am Legend"

  1. Annie says:

    Yeah, when renting our Christmas Eve movies, we opted for some light and stupid stuff rather than the heavier stuff.

  2. Ken says:

    Richard Matheson, like Harlan Ellison, is one of my favorite authors… and for similar reasons. (See the most recent remake of “The Mist” by Frank Darabont and Stephen King for another well-done “what of humanity?” story)

    Vicky & I watched “I am Legend” with her sister and nieces on the Sunday before Christmas. Like you said, definitely not a Christmas movie. I liked the intensity that Will Smith brought to the character of Robert Neville. Vicky was on quite a tangent about “they’re alot more human than Robert thought, the guy was after Robert because he took his wife/girlfriend/daughter.”

    It’s definitely two thumbs up from me… and I’d watch again to catch the details I know I missed in the first viewing. The mannequin was a great touch… did he see it move or didn’t he?? :)

    BTW: Lt. Cols in mansions is perhaps more common than you think. I know one personally living in a $800K house in Great Falls, VA, and yet draws a $77K income. I asked him about it, he bought it in cash with his parents’ money. I’m still trying to figure out how he swings the property tax?

  3. Bill says:

    $800k might buy you a stained closet on Washington Square in Manhattan, but it will certainly not get you the three story, basemented townhome that was shown in the movie. The only real explanation is inheritance, or the wife was very gainfully employed.

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