Movie Review : I am Legend  

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I know I’m always slightly late in my movie reviews but unlike regular movie critics who in their boring “prompt” way review and critique a movie right after its release, I tend to take my time and do it at liesure when I happen to see a movie on TV. :) 

For instance, last night, after coming home from a hard day’s work, I turned on HBO and there was I am Legend. The fact that the movie boasts a cast of 2 for almost 80% of its running time is something that I love. If you’ve read my previous post on Benjamin Button, then you’d know that I’m a fan of movies with quiet, yet strong performances. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’d watch a Megan Fox-filled-Autobot-beat-Decepticon-stopping the end of the world movie in a heartbeat. But these types of movies (Legend and Benjamin Button) are the movies that move you. I don’t feel the hairs on my arm raise watching Shia yell at Optimus.


To give you a little bit of history about the concept behind I am Legend, we need to go back to the book that spawned the movies. To quote Wiki, “I Am Legend is a 1954 science fiction/horror novel by American writer Richard Matheson. It was influential in the development of the vampire genre as well as the zombie genre, in popularizing the concept of a worldwide apocalypse due to disease, and in exploring the notion of vampirism as a disease. The novel was a success and was adapted to film as The Last Man on Earth in 1964, as The Omega Man in 1971, and as I Am Legend in 2007…”




At first, before I’d known this, I’d loved the movie but wondered what the title was about. To know this, you have to understand the book. The Robert Neville of the novel isn’t a scientist; he’s just a normal man who happened to survive. And the survivors in the book are vampires, instead of zombies. In the novel, he sets about hunting and killing as many of these vampires as he can find, considering it his human right to try and destroy this new scourge that took mankind. But unlike the movie, the vampires of the novel aren’t soulless, bloodthirsty creatures who kill for the hell of it. They are still essentially human inside and come to terms with their new vampirism and consider it a part of life. They then go about rebuilding society as a vampire society. And Neville, in his crusade against all things vampiric, is the monster. He’s the odd one out in the world where the new “normal” is to be a vampire. The hunters then go after the “monster” to kill the thing that is hunting them. The irony is not lost on Neville and before he dies, he laughs and says, “[I am] a new superstition entering the unassailable fortress of forever. I am legend." 



Now, the movie tried to incorporate its own interpretation of “Legend” and they did this in an alternate ending that was shot for the 2007 movie. In this ending, the movie deviates during the last few minutes where the Darkseeker leader doesn’t keep running mindlessly into the glass wall. When Robert Neville keeps yelling that he can cure them all because the Darkseeker woman is now visibly human again, the leader walks up to the glass and with his hands, smudges the figure of a butterfly. At this, Neville looks at the now cured Darkseeker lady and sees a butterfly tattoo on her shoulder (or arm, I forget). He then realizes that the leader and this woman are a couple and that he’s being hunted for their version of love. He then wheels the table out where the woman is lying and the leader and the other seekers take her and leave them alone. The leader looks at the wall of pictures where Neville’s failed experiments are and then Neville realizes that to them, he is the monster and not vice-versa. He then takes Anna and Ethan and escapes to Vermont with the cure. He then realizes that he is a legend, for discovering the cure that can save humanity and a legend amongst the Darkseekers for being a monster.



While this was not the chosen ending, which would have been the happier one (which is why I’m guessing it didn’t get picked for the movie, for seeming too optimistic), this ending is, however, the one that resonated most with the title. Here, Neville realizes the nature of the beast that is now him.

I must say though, that Will Smith was excellent (yet again) in this movie. His expressions and sorrow made you feel the weight of grief that’s on his shoulders. Also, being a die-hard dog lover, I absolutely adored Sam and his role in the film and shed a tear (yes, yes, I cry during some movies) when he died.



Also, I thought having New York, rather than Los Angeles (as was in the book) was a great move. Not because everything happens ONLY to New York (Godzilla, Asteroids, Alien landings, etc) but because the sight of the “City that never sleeps” completely deserted and overrun by the wild sets an amazing contrast for the film’s tone.



It makes you kind of wonder what you would do if you were ever in the same situation. Would you find the will to live on knowing that you are the last human on the face of the planet? I don’t know if I would. I thought that if the world was empty, I’d travel till I found my perfect place and live out my days there in whatever fashion I could.


This entry was posted on Friday, November 13, 2009 at Friday, November 13, 2009 and is filed under , , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

3 comments

The movie is a hell of a movie. I simply loved Will Smith's dedication in this movie! That's indeed appaudable!

http://shindeneeraj.blogspot.com

November 23, 2009 at 5:48 PM

Yeah, he's great even otherwise. I don't think I've seen too many movies of his that I didn't like.

November 23, 2009 at 6:59 PM

it's a GREAT movie. i cant describe it unless with PERFECT word. im touched by this movie. it's awesome.
i hate when the dog was dead. i couldnt hold my tears. hahaha

April 12, 2010 at 12:41 PM

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