Wednesday, April 23, 2008

I Am Legend (Well, not ME, but, umm...well, just read it)

Finally got around to watching "I Am Legend".

I was aware of all the grumbling about the film going into watching it. Complaints about the ending and about the horrible CGI. But I was still giving this one a chance. I'd heard enough fair to good reviews by friends of mine that I figured this just might be one of those 'taste' movies.


For starters, let me say that Will Smith was fantastic in this. He's one of our true A+ movie stars. He was given an impossibly difficult role to play, being the only actor in the film for 90% of its running time. I normally cringe when movies have characters talk to themselves or to animals or inanimate objects, as it usually comes across as very obvious that it's just a device so that there's not just 90 minutes of a guy walking around quietly by himself. But Will Smith pulled it off.


But then we get to the "Darkseekers". Here lies the treacherous path the movie decides to take. I just did a bit of research on the original novel this movie is based on, and discovered that vampires/zombies were not only very much a part of the novel, but even more overt than they are in the movie. But they also make a lot more sense than in the movie. The movie tries to make the epidemic a reaction to a cancer vaccine. While this in itself isn't a bad idea, it's where it leads that winds up making no sense.

Now, instead of the more "plausible" reason of vampirism as to why everyone else has superpowers and can climb walls like Spider-man and can leap twenty feet through the air, and on and on, now we have to somehow imagine that these powers are the result of a vaccine gone bad. It doesn't work for me, sorry. It should have either just be straight up vampires, or else dropped the super-abilities of those suffering from this problem.

The ending, while nice and bleak, is pointless because it's just so silly. Just another typical action film ending where everything comes together at the final moment, including Will Smith's character remembering one key thing his son said to him that winds up being the key to everything. How convenient that he remembers that quote and finally puts meaning to it right at the last possible moment.

I then went and watched the alternate ending, where Will Smith's character lives, by making some sort of silly connection with the lead Darkseeker. An infected Darkseeker that Will Smith had been experimenting on just so happens to be the wife or girlfriend of the lead Darkseeker, who ends up carrying her out with him. It has gotten tons of praise for being so clearly the better ending, but I think it's actually sillier than the theatrical version. I think the studios made a wise choice, at least as far as these two endings are concerned.

As far as the book ending (spoiler alert!), he ends up being the last remaining human on an earth that is now overrun by vampires, so now HE is the mythical creature causing problems for the rest of (vampire) society. HE is the Legend. It's kind of a Planet of the Apes sort of ending (haven't read the book, just a brief synopsis), and it makes much more sense than either of the silly movie endings.

While the film is ultimately silly, I can honestly say I was never bored, and never less than riveted to what was going on. But...I can only give this film six and a half teeth out of ten. Will Smith gets 9.5 teeth out of ten. The Darkseekers get one tooth out of ten.

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