I Am Legend sounds like an interesting concept. A virus-based cure for cancer goes horribly wrong, killing most of the population of the earth and changing the rest into insane, hairless brutes who happen to like human blood. The movie follows Robert Neville, a military scientist who thinks he’s the lone survivor. Normally this isn’t the kind of movie I would go to see, but I was intrigued by the “last man on earth” idea, the film’s trailer, and an invitation from Josh.
I didn’t enjoy Legend. A film doesn’t have to be enjoyable to be “good,” of course. Heavy subjects often aren’t enjoyable, but that’s not why didn’t enjoy it. There are a few heavy subjects, I suppose, but they mostly fall into the background of the film.
Most of the time, Neville is alone in
Zombie isn’t really the right term. The infected people or “dark-seekers” look more like Gollum when he’s at his meanest and behave like Robert Zemeckis’s Grendel. They’re fast, limber, deadly, and noticeably CGI. That being said, they still scare the snot out of you even when you see it coming. The scary bits in this film rely on old tricks like popping out from the shadows, or around the corner, or… right behind you! It’s actually a little bit annoying that these simple tactics continue to startle you for as long as they’re employed. I doubt it would be scary to seasoned veterans of horrors or thrillers or if viewed on a regular TV with a regular sound system. So, ultimately, the film fails to be truly frightening.
More resonant are the shots of an empty, lifeless
If there was supposed to be a message or purpose to the film, I didn’t get it. There are a few mentions of God. Neville uses the old “how could God let this happen?” reasoning, though later it is subtly implied that he has changed his mind. In a flashback, Neville prays with his family and another character evokes God’s will as her reason for doing things. But there’s nothing there that can be construed as the film’s overall “message”. It might be suggested that “don’t play God” is the film’s message, but if that’s the case then it wasn’t presented well at all.
Because the back story was told in flashbacks the movie centered on Neville and his quest to survive and save the human race. Frankly, there’s not much of a story in there. This all leads up to a disappointingly sudden ending. I, for one, was left wondering what the point was. Somebody started to clap when the credits began to roll, but stopped rather sheepishly when they realized nobody else was going to.
It’s a real shame. I Am Legend had potential. But there is too much of Neville sneaking around and getting surprised by zombies for any lasting meaning to shine through. Unfortunately, the best thing this movie’s got going for it is Will Smith.