Movie Review: I Am Legend
Release Date: December 14, 2007
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
· Francis Lawrence
· Will Smith
· Alice Braga
· Salli Richardson-Whitfield
· Charlie Tahan
· I Am Legend Official Site
Copyright Warner Bros.
by Scott Juba
Published: December 14, 2007
Re-published: December 16, 2007
Will Smith and successful sci-fi action films seem to go hand-in-hand. Box-office hits such as "Independence Day," "Men in Black," and "I, Robot" have made him one of the most accomplished actors in the genre. For the most part, his work in "I Am Legend" should add to his illustrious reputation.
Smith plays Robert Neville, a government scientist immune from a virus that has killed most humans and transformed others into ravenous mutants. Along with the mutants, who only come out at night, Neville lives with his dog in New York City. From a lab inside his home, Neville works to discover a cure for the virus that has destroyed the human race. As the plot progresses, Neville discovers he may not be the only human who survived the plague.
For all of its cheap horror thrills, "I Am Legend" paints a thoughtful portrait of a man in desperate need of redemption and human contact. The circumstances that unfold push him to the brink, only for him to be rescued by what the film portrays as the invisible hand of God leading him to his destiny.
The visual imagery enhances the theme of isolation that permeates "I Am Legend," especially thanks to its eerie depiction of a deserted New York City. In addition, James Newton Howard’s haunting musical score bolsters the surreal aura of the film. The score is used sparingly at times, which makes sense given that sheer silence best enhances the sense of isolation in certain scenes.
Unfortunately, what "I Am Legend" too often forgets is that the ideas it explores are far more interesting than its mindless sci-fi thrills. Every time the thematic subject matter peaks in interest, the film destroys its façade of intelligence by resorting to overblown action sequences. Even worse, visual horror reigns supreme over psychological horror because of how often the audience sees the mutants. The mutants appear more silly than scary and look like the type of creatures that could only exist in a CGI movie world.
Such hindrances keep "I Am Legend" from achieving its full potential. As a result, "I Am Legend" won’t go down as a legendary motion picture, but it should have a stronger resonance with audiences than most films in this genre.