I Am Legend is based on the novel by Richard Matheson. It has been adapted twice before for film under different titles: The Last Man on Earth starring Vincent Price and The Omega Man with Charlton Heston. This latest version is directed by Francis Lawrence.
CAPTION: Quick, dog, look cool. People will love us.
I Am Overrated, 15 December 2007
Author: David H. Schleicher from New Jersey, USA
*** This comment may contain spoilers ***
“I Am Legend,” an inexplicable remake of the Charlton Heston minor classic “The Omega Man”, posits itself as another mass-marketed star vehicle for the always likable Will Smith. Here the mega-star who can do no wrong plays the last man on earth (SPOILER: HE’S NOT!) after a nasty virus wipes out the world population and leaves behind some infected sourpusses in the vein of “28 Days Later”. This movie has all the key ingredients for a Will Smith box office behemoth (which no doubt it will be), but fails to engage on any higher level.
Here’s the recipe:
1. Will Smith playing Will Smith: No other movie star can be such an egotistical show-off and get away with it as well as Will Smith does. No matter how many times we see him do his funny little bits, show off his buff bod, or watch him stretch his acting muscle with an unnecessary emotional breakdown scene, the audience still loves him. He carries “I Am Legend” and makes it watchable even when he starts doing a “Shrek” impersonation (don’t ask) or carries on conversations with mannequins (think Tom Hanks and Wilson the volleyball from “Cast Away”).
2. A futuristic setting: The set designers do a fantastic job here with a post-apocalyptic New York tableau that is expansive and eerie and will leave you wondering, “How in blue blazes did they film that?” Sadly, the special effects team and creature designers didn’t do a complimentary job. The zombie/vampire/whatever-the-heck-they-are monsters look like something from a second rate video game circa 1999. Given the PG-13 rating, they are only allowed a moderate amount of fun. Gore hounds and horror buffs will be greatly disappointed. Sci-fi fans will also be angered that after a decent set-up, the film devolves into a preachy messianic family-friendly death-fetish film.
3. A kick-ass dog: Remember how everyone rooted for that dog from “Independence Day?” Well, this German Sheperd named Sam puts that dog to shame. However, you know there’s a problem when the dog becomes the most dynamic and sympathetic character in a film. I won’t carelessly give away what happens to Sam in any explicit detail, but suffice it to say, when two non-characters named Anna and Ethan show up in the film’s final moments, you’ll be wishing Sam was there to keep it real.
“I Am Legend” offers nothing new but is diverting enough as a matinée. In its depiction of a man and a dog in a post-apocalyptic city, it scores as populist entertainment. As a monster movie, it’s a joke. As some sort of end-of-the-world message film, it’s abhorrent. But with Will Smith headlining, expect it to be the biggest hit of the holiday season.
Originally Published on the Internet Movie Database: