The opening scenes of "I Am Legend" have special effects so good that they just about compensate for some later special effects that are dicey. We see Manhattan three years after a deadly virus has killed every healthy human on the island, except one. The streets are overgrown with weeds, cars are abandoned, the infrastructure is beginning to collapse. Down one street, a sports car races, driven by Robert Neville (Will Smith), who is trying to get a good shot at one of the deer roaming the city. He has worse luck than a lioness who competes with him.
Neville has only his dog to keep him company. He lives barricaded inside a house in Greenwich Village, its doors and windows sealed every night by heavy steel shutters. That's because after dark the streets are ruled by bands of predatory zombies -- hairless creatures who were once human but have changed into savage, speechless killers with fangs for teeth. In his basement, Neville has a laboratory where he is desperately seeking a vaccine against the virus, which mutated from a cure for cancer.
The story is adapted from a 1954 sci-fi novel by Richard Matheson, which has been filmed twice before, as "The Last Man on Earth" (1964) starring Vincent Price, and "The Omega Man" (1971) starring Charlton Heston. In the original novel, which Stephen King says influenced him more than any other, Neville cultivated garlic and used mirrors, crosses and sharpened stakes against his enemies, who were like traditional vampires, not super-strong zombies. I am not sure it is an advance to make him a scientist, arm him and change the nature of the creatures; Matheson developed a kind of low-key realism that was doubly effective.
In "I Am Legend," the situation raises questions of logic. If Neville firmly believes he is the last healthy man alive, who is the vaccine for? Only himself, I guess. Fair enough, although he faces a future of despair, no matter how long his cans of Spam and Dinty Moore beef stew hold out; dogs don't live forever. And how, I always wonder, do human beings in all their infinite shapes and sizes mutate into identical pale zombies with infinite speed and strength?
Never mind. Given its setup, "I Am Legend" is well-constructed to involve us with Dr. Neville and his campaign to survive. There is, however, an event which breaks his spirit and he cracks up -- driving out at night to try to mow down as many zombies with his car as he can before they kill him. He is saved (I'm not sure how) by a young woman named Anna (Alice Braga), who is traveling with a boy named Ethan (Charlie Tahan).
He takes them home, and she explains they are trying to get to a colony of survivors in Vermont. Neville doubts that such a colony exists. I doubt that she and the boy would venture through Manhattan to get there. Yes, she has doubtless heard his nonstop taped voice on all AM frequencies, asking to be contacted by any other survivors. But we have seen every bridge into Manhattan blown up as part of a quarantine of the island, so how did they get there? Boat? Why go to the risk?
Never mind, again, because Anna and the boy import dramatic interest into the story when it needs it. And director Francis Lawrence generates suspense effectively, even though it largely comes down to the monster movie staple of creatures leaping out of the dark, gnashing their fangs and hammering at things. The special effects generating the zombies are not nearly as effective as the other effects in the film; they all look like creatures created for the sole purpose of providing the film with menace and have no logic other than serving that purpose.
"I Am Legend" does contain memorable scenes, as when the island is being evacuated, and when Neville says goodbye to his wife and daughter (Salli Richardson and Willow Smith), and when he confides in his dog (who is not computer-generated, most of the time, anyway). And if it is true that mankind has 100 years to live before we destroy our planet, it provides an enlightening vision of how Manhattan will look when it lives on without us. The movie works well while it's running, although it raises questions that later only mutate in our minds.
Analysis of I Am Legend Essay
1159 WordsApr 19th, 20085 Pages
The way the world is seen varies with each passing person. What is observed as good from one may be the damning pathway to hell for another. Many times these beliefs are instilled upon us at a very early age which can result with a twisted outlook on life that we had little to no control over. As we grow older we are than further influenced through our religion (or lack of), culture, and passed experiences. With that in mind, it is easy to see that reality can be just as interchangeable and further raises the difficult question of what is real? Robert Neville, a man who on a daily basis struggles with the reality of being the last man on earth often only manages to keep going by holding on to the intangibles of hope, denial, and…show more content…
All Neville has is himself. If he wants to keep living he has to work hard to keep his home up. He struggles with the motivation but yet he still perseveres. His will to live is often almost non-existent but nonetheless he gets up early and does his daily maintenance routine. He knows that it would be so easy to just give up but he doesn’t and the question is why? Despite the hardships, Neville was still able to hold on to a thread of hope. He was by no means optimistic since it was apparent at times that he was not aware he held on to anything at all. Nonetheless, somewhere deep within Neville he had his hopes. He hoped that there might be someone else like him who survived. He hoped that he can find out what caused this. He even created new “hopes” for himself that were as trivial hoping to one day find where Ben Cortman slept so that he finally kill him. Whether the hope was insignificant or not, it did not matter. Just having the feeling of hope could have been a huge driving force for Neville making it easier to want to live. It was the times that Neville questioned or gave up on his hopes that were his lowest points. Although this happened often he still managed to pull through, but it was the extreme highs and lows that he experienced that really brought him down.
Neville lives in a world turned upside down which makes it all the more easier to live in denial. Denial is a