I Am Legend is yet another screen adaptation of the novella
of the same name by Richard Matheson. Just like
I, Robot, the last Will Smith vehicle
based on a famous science fiction book, I Am Legend has
only the loosest connection to the source material.
The movie starts off promisingly with scenes of Robert Neville
(Smith) cruising empty New York City streets with his only companion,
Sam, the German Shepherd. For most of the movie it is all Will Smith
all the time and that is not really a bad thing. He makes us laugh,
he makes us cry, he looks good without his shirt on. This one man
expresses the entire gamut of human emotions throughout the course
of the movie. He desperately clings to his sanity as the horror
of being the last man on Earth sinks in. Like Castaway,
another movie about isolation, he takes to talking to inanimate
objects in an unsuccessful attempt to fill the void.
Before any of this character study gets too slow for the presumed
attention deficit disorder of the audience, a bunch of CGI zombies
attack and the movie ceases to be compelling at all and succumbs
to genre conventions. B-O-R-I-N-G! The scary zombie is screaming
at the camera now in a move straight out of the multitude of zombie
flicks saturating the market these days. If I sound bitter it is
because I am. I Am Legend could at the very least have
been a study in human nature along the lines of Night Of The
Living Dead, featuring the superlative talents of Will Smith.
At first it seemed the movie was going focus more on the suspense—the
things that go bump in the night route—but in the end Will
Smith turns out to be a superhuman fighting machine/brilliant scientist/loving
husband and outstanding human being who punches out a bunch of CGI
zombies just like he manhandled those aliens back in Independence
Day. The less said about the mess of a third act the better.
I Am Legend is awash in wrong turns and lost opportunities.
It has a few redeeming moments, mostly involving Will Smith or the
totally foreign landscape of a barren New York City populated by
herds of deer. The rest is an infinitely forgettable wasteland.