I Am Legend

Sci-fi horror thriller

  • Written by Mark Protosevich & Akiva Goldsman
  • Based on the novel by Richard Matheson
  • Directed by Francis Lawrence

I wonder if the Warner Brothers executives who greenlit this movie knew what they were getting into. You okay a big budget end-of-the-human-race scifi adventure starring Will Smith (seems a safe bet), and you get a slow-paced, dark, brooding, humorless horror film where the action scenes are few and very terrifying, and the CGI is used mainly to put wild flora in Manhattan streets.

If the suits knew what they were doing, I commend them for their courage. And if they didn’t, I’m thankful for their mistakes.

This third film version of Richard Matheson’s novel is not a fun ride. As the only living, non-zombified human in Manhattan and perhaps the world, Smith spends most of the film fighting off a deep, soul-killing loneliness. He has a sweet and loyal dog, but she doesn’t make up for human companionship. He also has a routine, which includes broadcasting a message to anyone who might listen, hunting the wild animals that now roam the city for fresh meat, and visiting a video store which he has populated with mannequins that he pretends are real people.

He’s free to roam the city during the day, but he locks himself up at night when the zombies are out. An altered version of the measles virus, created to help cure cancer, has turned almost everyone into a rabid, zombie-like creature hungry for human blood. The zombies themselves wiped out all of the healthy humans except Smith’s Robert Neville. Luckily, they can’t stand light.

A biologist, Neville spends much of his time listening to Bob Marley (the man has taste) and trying to develop a cure for the zombie-creating disease. He doesn’t seem entirely sure what he’d do with the cure should he find it.

As the film progresses, Neville sinks deeper into despair and depression. The ending does little to lift that spirit. I am Legend is the sort of big-budget movie that gives you hope for Hollywood.