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I Am Legend
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Big Willie Takes Back Manhattan"
1 stars

“I Am Legend” is a film that seems to have been made by and for people who felt that “I Robot,” the last attempt to transform a classic of sci-fi literature into a large-budget Will Smith blockbuster, was just too intellectual and oblique for their tastes. This is the third time that Richard Matheson’s 1954 novel has been brought to the big screen (the previous attempts were 1964's “The Last Man on Earth” and 1973's “The Omega Man”) but once again, it has been adapted by people who have perversely decided to junk most of the story (which would make for a great film in its original form) in order to make room for “improvements” that only serve to dumb down the material in order to make it more palatable for viewers with short attention spans and an aversion to films that don’t offer up elaborate special effects sequences every few minutes or so.

In the not-too-distant future, a genius scientist (Emma Thompson in an unbilled cameo) rejiggers the measles virus and miraculously comes up with a cure for cancer. Alas, in a classic case of the cure being worse than the disease, this new virus unexpectedly mutates and infects virtually the planet’s entire population with a new disease that transforms them into creatures that spend their evenings (exposure to daylight causes them to disintegrate) mindlessly killing the few uninfected people still roaming about. After three years, it appears that the uninfected population has been reduced to Robert Neville (Will Smith), a genius scientist who had been humanity’s last great hope for finding a cure for the disease before everything went to hell. Now he spends his nights barricaded inside of his townhouse and his days roaming the streets of Manhattan with his faithful dog while gathering supplies, sending out radio messages to any other possible survivors and continuing his work on discovering the cure that he once promised to find. Although he tries to keep himself busy, it is clear that the possibility of being the last man on Earth is beginning to drive him crazy–at the very least, it has driven him to watch “Shrek” so many times that he can repeat every line of dialogue verbatim–and after yet another setback, he finds himself on the brink of suicide.

Luckily for both him and the movie, he doesn’t go through with it because it is just at that point that two significant developments kick in. The first is the sudden arrival of Anna (Alice Braga) and Ethan (Charlie Tahan), a pair of uninfected survivors who are heading to Vermont where a colony for fellow uninfected types has supposedly been established. The pair want Neville to go with him but he inexplicably refuses–he insists that there are no other survivors out there and even if there were, he needs to stay behind to continue in his increasingly futile efforts to find a cure. (There is also the suggestion that, having been by himself for so long, the idea of not being the last man on Earth is more terrifying to him than the monsters that roam the streets every evening. The second jolt comes when his latest serum appears to be reversing the effects of the virus on a creature that he has captured and brought to his lab to serve as a guinea pig. Just as he realizes this, however, the monsters, who have finally figured out where their great oppressor hides during the night, lay siege to his home in what could be mankind’s final fight for survival.

For years, there has been talk of bringing “I Am Legend” back to the big screen (a version to be directed by Ridley Scott with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the lead was announced a few years ago and then scuttled over budget concerns) and the screenplay written by Mark Protosevich, the guy who penned “The Cell” and the “Poseidon” remake, has been hailed by many who have had the chance to read it. (It even earned a write-up in the book “The Greatest Science-Fiction Films Never Made” a couple of years back.) However, based on the results seen here, either that fabled screenplay was “improved” beyond recognition in its journey from the page to the screen (a good possibility when you consider that uber-hack Akiva Goldsman now shares the screenwriting credit) or it was never that good in the first place. It isn’t the fact that it varies so wildly from the source material–after all, the previous adaptations bore little resemblance to Matheson’s work and they still worked on some basic fundamental level.

No, the problem with “I Am Legend” is that absolutely none of it works on any level. We never get any real sense of what the disease does to its victims (outside of transforming them into Lord Voldemort lookalikes) and as a result, it is impossible to work up any real feelings of fear or dread towards them since they are little more than one-dimensional CGI cannon fodder. The storyline has been stretched and inflated in ways that make relatively little sense from a narrative standpoint–it spends so much time on Neville’s quest for a cure that it never quite explains what he hopes to achieve if he manages to succeed in his quest. Although generally an engaging actor, Will Smith is all wrong for the role of Neville as conceived here. This is a character who is supposed to be nearly insane from loneliness when we first see him but Smith never comes close to suggesting such emotional depths at any point–he just comes across as so self-assured and confident that his ability to save mankind is never once in doubt.. Even as an incredibly expensive hunk of eye candy, the film comes up surprisingly short. Director Francis Lawrence offers up none of the screwball visual panache that he brought to his first film, the wildly underrated “Constantine” and the special effects come across as surprisingly chintzy for a film that obviously cost an enormous amount of money to produce–all of the scenes involving the creatures look as if they were badly Photoshopped in from footage originally shot for “The Descent.”

“I Am Legend” is a bad movie but more than that, it is a useless one. There are a couple of admittedly arresting shots early on that offer us a look at a post-apocalyptic Manhattan that has been re-appropriated by the animal kingdom but outside of those moments, there is never a time when the film demonstrates any reason for it to exist. It isn’t scary, it isn’t exciting and it squanders a potentially fascinating story to such a degree that it makes a cheeseball film like “The Omega Man” (one of those Charlton Heston blockbusters that hasn’t aged very well over the years) look like some kind of underrated masterpiece by comparison. The result is an agonizingly uninteresting and surprisingly cheap-looking drag that will no doubt disappoint all who come into contact with it.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=15743&reviewer=389
originally posted: 12/14/07 00:02:22
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User Comments

7/12/14 Jack My god, what a terrible movie. 1 stars
3/10/14 John Just awful. 1 stars
1/18/12 Marc DC One of the better zombie/apocalyptic movies. Adding people at end lessened its originality 4 stars
10/11/10 Lars This is the Tub he sleeps in - www.build.com/kohler-k-700-vintage-bath/p173397 4 stars
4/17/10 matt honestly, it just didn't work on any level. 2 stars
3/22/10 Blake I don't know why alot of people hate this movie. It's one of the greatest I've ever seen! 5 stars
7/24/09 Jack Mangled story. Horrible "acting". Laughable CGI. 1 stars
6/27/09 CTT Tour de force from Smith; underrated and misunderstood 5 stars
6/04/09 JR I couldn't have hated it more... 1 stars
5/17/09 R Lan Perfect rating for this film. It's average. Shouldn't go out of your way to see or avoid. 3 stars
4/25/09 Tom One of the greatest movies NEVER made. I AM SUCKER for paying to see this CRAP. 1 stars
4/12/09 Heston An effective and involving lone-man against the zombies flick, despite some dumb moments 4 stars
3/15/09 Yo MTV Raps Mastabatory greatness 5 stars
1/19/09 Jonathan It took how many years to get this film off the ground? …Cinematic GARBAGE. 1 stars
1/11/09 Anonymous. this movie isn't near as bad as alot of people are making it sound. actually, it's good. :] 4 stars
12/17/08 Simon It's solid, like 3.49/5. Despite flaws of script and lamely-put message, it's discussable. 3 stars
12/14/08 Jack A travesty. It's I AM LEGEND Mr. Smith, not I Have a Dream. Jerk. 1 stars
11/14/08 Annie G Won’t stand up to any scrutiny, but a fun one-time action apocalypse film. 3 stars
10/18/08 Ron Where are John Carpenter and Kurt Russell when you need them? 1 stars
9/05/08 Rada Sarbu Saw it on DVD at night, alone; a bit terrifying. I really liked it, but not the 2 endings. 4 stars
7/23/08 Shaun Wallner Will Smith is a Great Actor!! 5 stars
6/28/08 pin Smith was fantastic, CGI was iffy (so?), the budget dictated the ending, deal with it. 4 stars
6/26/08 DK Great Smith performance and some solid direction- but script shits on the book 3 stars
6/16/08 Wolfrider Annoyingly SLOW and depressing - bad CGI and violence against animals 1 stars
6/11/08 Jayson Amazing. Loved every minute. Will Smith is the man. 5 stars
6/07/08 Joe getting tired of all the Hollywood computer generation, it sucks! 2 stars
5/25/08 David Pollastrini Theatrical version was great. The alternate ending was stupid. 5 stars
5/22/08 Dana Ending was a bit off but most of the movie was very good 4 stars
5/11/08 Dan Flawed, but worth watching. Good atmosphere. I'd give 3.5 stars if I could 4 stars
5/09/08 Siggie I really wanted to love this movie. I loved the Richard Matheson story & the other 2 movies 3 stars
5/05/08 madglo83 Rented the movie - I'm glad it only cost me a dollar. 1 stars
5/04/08 steve great all around experience 5 stars
4/25/08 Pete Chesworth Watchable but full of gaping plot holes like what do the zombies live on if all the humans 3 stars
4/20/08 Jack What a Horrible movie. The Title, the CENTRAL theme in the novel, is not even explained!!! 1 stars
4/12/08 Mike Acrobatic CGI created zombies take away the realistic image from the movie 4 stars
4/11/08 Katie not what I expected, but not bad. 3 stars
4/06/08 jesabel Ok film, the ending sucked. What happened to his wife, humanity-what happened at the end? 2 stars
4/06/08 thismoviesuckeddogshit Terrible... everything. Too many plot holes, terrible ending, i can go on and on and on.... 1 stars
4/04/08 stephanie willis just ok 3 stars
3/24/08 wnm Will Smith did ok in a movie that had obvious problems with story and cartoon-like zombies 3 stars
3/23/08 vince Last man on earth was better. I wish Arnold had starred in this one, and a better director 3 stars
3/18/08 action movie fan great production but litte thrills and not much action-story poorly developed-a disappointm 3 stars
3/06/08 not2well tons of plot holes, stone cold acting, and an idealistic ending..not what i was looking for 1 stars
3/06/08 damn only reason this piece of shit made any money was cause everyone thought it was gonna be ok 1 stars
3/02/08 ladavies I was disappointed because I loved the book and this took a weird turn. 2 stars
2/28/08 damalc exciting for a while, but ultimately forgettable; smith doesn't have the chops for this 3 stars
2/17/08 sophrosune It wasted 1:30 of my life, that I can never get back. 1 stars
2/10/08 John Geddie hype far exceeded the film 3 stars
1/26/08 proper amateur film critic You're left gawping at a $100 million worth of eye popping futuristic B movie 1 stars
1/23/08 John Campbell This reviewer was spot on about everything. 1 stars
1/19/08 orpy sucked big time! 1 stars
1/15/08 Dani Very disappointing. Will Smith was never in a bad movie before this one. 2 stars
1/13/08 Abhishek Chakraborty It's not as bad as the other users have said. I wasn't blown away with the ending, though 4 stars
1/06/08 I-K Serious sci-fi with real emotional punch ruined by rushed story and simplistic ending. 3 stars
1/04/08 Jack Where are J.Cameron & Arnold S. when you need them? 1 stars
1/01/08 Russo I am Legend was a GREAT movie ! All you low life nerds who think other wise are just idiots 5 stars
12/28/07 davebee If you read and liked the book, then DON'T SEE THIS MOVE...you will be disappointed 2 stars
12/26/07 John If I want a lecture about racism then I will see the Great Debaters, not I am Legend. Geez. 1 stars
12/26/07 Andy & Taze Read the book then curse Hollywood and Will for their cynical profit making 1 stars
12/26/07 Joel Elfrank The worst movie I have seen this year 1 stars
12/22/07 Doug Not bad, but the redemption of God at the end was lame. 3 stars
12/22/07 ravenmad I totally agree, I was so unhappy with everything! Ten minutes in, I didn't like it. 2 stars
12/21/07 Buttley Not a great movie. 3 stars
12/21/07 mr.mike as a self-styled critic , 4 stars , as a moviegoer, 3 4 stars
12/21/07 WeeToddDidd Nothing special, it's all been done before 3 stars
12/20/07 ScubaSteve Wow, this review blows. Take it for what it is and quit being a picky know-it-all. 5 stars
12/20/07 Jesoul Yup, this review is spot on! Smith- great but way too many loose ends! ending was so lame! 3 stars
12/20/07 Richard The review was on the money. Will Smith: Great. CGI Sucked. Plot and movie: Too short. 3 stars
12/20/07 Darren Good but the monsters looked silly. I hear the book was better. Smith was great 4 stars
12/19/07 Michael entertaining go see 28 days later a better movie 4 stars
12/19/07 Chip Not great, but I didn't think it sucked. Just some mindless entertainment for Friday night 4 stars
12/19/07 Dirk Apart from the obvious flaws, this movie is still very entertaining. 4 stars
12/19/07 ab childish review 4 stars
12/19/07 Dave Had potential but to many plot holes and the talking to mannequiens just cheesy 3 stars
12/18/07 SG Spot on. Most accurate review I've seen yet. 1 stars
12/18/07 J_movie The movie is a suspense movie, not an esoteric artistic expression, GOY Snobs! 4 stars
12/18/07 obnoman Worst hack job on a classic EVER! 1 stars
12/18/07 C.R. Beautiful beyond measure. 'Legend' speaks to our inadequacy and potential as human beings. 5 stars
12/17/07 Scott "F". I'm done with Will Smith. He sucks. Always has. 1 stars
12/17/07 Ian Thank God I'm Not Alone. This Movie Was SO AWFUL! 1 stars
12/17/07 digitalb CGI was horrible! Even the lions looked fake, big league budget little league fx!! 2 stars
12/17/07 Anna Absolutely TERRIBLE movie... I would love to have my money, and my time, back. 1 stars
12/17/07 Seth This review sums up the reason why many people don't like this movie. It's not believable. 2 stars
12/17/07 ryan you must have seen a different movie than i did. i thought it was moving and powerful 4 stars
12/17/07 Zild Stop expecting it to be a Picasso and you might actually enjoy. If not, then no one cares. 5 stars
12/17/07 Barbara This was a great movie. I will definitely purchase it for my collection. 5 stars
12/17/07 Lucifer Satan book amazing, this blew, cgi sucks 1 stars
12/17/07 Coyoteman Hundreds and hundreds of Smeagols. Pathetic movie. 2 stars
12/17/07 Frank Should have waited for the rental. Not worth the gas or popcorn much less the admission. 1 stars
12/17/07 Ricky Wow, worst written review ever! Dude, take a community college english class ASAP! 1 stars
12/17/07 Quigley One of the year's best films. Incredibly suspensful and eerie. Excellent Will Smith 5 stars
12/17/07 Roberto Horrible... Ending was even worse.. 1 stars
12/17/07 Martin what are you guys fooking brain dead-this was the worst movie of the year. 1 stars
12/17/07 Ole Man Bourbon Nothing to it other than absurdity 2 stars
12/17/07 Claire Another failed effort to do justice to an amazing book. 'I am garbage' is a better title 1 stars
12/17/07 toomanymovies Very disappointing. I love Smith, but this movie was bad. Too many plot holes. 2 stars
12/16/07 Obi Wan Will Smith staples to his name to the Top Tier of American actors! 4 stars
12/16/07 J-tron Dude you need to really chill out. you're over analyzing it, 1 stars
12/16/07 Kevin This review is horseshit! This move is a great movie.See the movie. 5 stars
12/16/07 P I don't understand all the negative criticism. This movie, Smith's acting was AMAZING! 5 stars
12/16/07 Chrissie I think you're way off the mark on this one. 4 stars
12/16/07 rybo dogshit 1 stars
12/16/07 Panda It was brilliant. Anyone who says differently needs to be shot, or infected. 4 stars
12/16/07 Tom Servo Most expensive adaptation out of the three manages to be the worst. Go read the book. 1 stars
12/16/07 Mark 1. You can't write 2. Go play a video game, it'll assuage your ADD 4 stars
12/16/07 link what a good movie 5 stars
12/16/07 Captain Highcrime Talk about fantasy: that's the fastest anyone's been able to drive in NYC in fuck, 50 years 3 stars
12/15/07 HistoryBuff Afrocentric swill. 1 stars
12/15/07 VonDouchebag Modern storytelling at it's lowest, throwing more money and CGI at it just makes it worse. 1 stars
12/15/07 TheJet Were we watching the same movie? Smith wit another unforgettable pefromance 5 stars
12/15/07 Jaime I just saw this movie and Wil Smith was IMPRESSIVE 5 stars
12/15/07 Ray Ford moving movie, my faith in Smith as a serious actor is now restored 5 stars
12/15/07 pswfe Disappointed 4 stars
12/15/07 TESS Awesome. I loved it,although mu husband wanted more action. 5 stars
12/15/07 Jake The second half of the movie was just bad, but the first half more then made up for it. 4 stars
12/15/07 DogofWar This was a great movie. A great psycological horror thriller, no matter what anyone says. 5 stars
12/15/07 Curt Enjoyable, interesting, decent story but not Matheson's. I was expecting gore and action. 4 stars
12/15/07 Justin I hated this movie. Relentlessly punishing - 2 stars for Smith's effort 2 stars
12/14/07 Pollenfax Very dissappointed in the movie. Oh well. 2 stars
12/14/07 Od Green Smith, ok. Movie, missed it's mark. More hunting, real vamps would have been better. 2 stars
12/14/07 Kevin Just saw the movie, and it was pretty damn good. I sincerely apologize, but your wrong. 5 stars
12/14/07 Dan Erik I don't know what movie you saw but to call Will Smith a bad actor after see that... 5 stars
12/14/07 Will Man, I need to become a film critic. Hate on this movie then give The, Mist 5 stars.... 4 stars
12/14/07 Naurto Will there EVER be a decent adaptation of the book?!?!?!?!?! 1 stars
12/14/07 David Well, Smith's pissed on Asimov and now Matheson. Can't wait to see who he'll trash next. 1 stars
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  14-Dec-2007 (PG-13)
  DVD: 18-Mar-2008



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