Thursday, January 03, 2008

I missed Cortman

I Am Legend is the third attempt at turning Richard Matheson's story into a film. The first was with Vincent Price in 1964's The Last Man on Earth followed by Chuck Heston as The Omega Man in 1971.

I haven't seen either of those. I can, however, say that Will Smith's performance in I Am Legend is slightly better than, well, anything else I've seen him do lately. There were fewer of those goofy one-liners that he seems to favor. There was the obligatory 'Will Smith working out' scene, but it was short.

The story itself centers around a cure for cancer that goes wrong and turns 99 point something percent of the population into vampire like creatures. Robert Neville apparently played some role in creating this 'cure' and is now one of the few people immune to it. Manhattan has become sort of a 12 Monkeys-esque wasteland filled with lions and deer. Neville is accompanied only be his dog, Sam. The two of them have spent 3 years on the island trying to survive and find a cure.

I liked I Am Legend a first. It's a movie that brings you in and you find yourself involved in Neville's life. However, a while later now, I find that I like it less. There are gaping holes in the story that, at first, seem ok, things make sense. The more you think about the movie though, the more you start to see past the veneer. You start to ask questions, not the least of which is 'how?', how did he manage to survive on his own for three years? What happened as more and more people 'turned'? How did none of them know he was there?

I'm not the type that will fault a movie for straying too far from the source material. Let me tell you though that it strays pretty far from the source material. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The film has it's own identity though. The book's ending is rather bleak. It's not a Hollywood ending by any means. In the film, we are presented with a slightly more optimistic ending. An ending that, however, removes all context from those titular words 'I AM LEGEND'. And, while I understand that the ending had to be changed, I will forever regret that it was the case.

It wasn't a bad movie. It was, in fact, very enjoyable. It just wasn't a great movie. It was good, and felt great when I watched it, but officially will live in the realm of 'good'. 7 snares to trap you so that a pack of infected dogs can bet let loose to attack you out of 10.