I Am Legend (Blu-ray)
In I AM LEGEND, Will Smith joins the ranks of Vincent Price (in 1964's THE LAST MAN ON EARTH) and Charlton Heston (in 1971's OMEGA MAN) as the star of...
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Review of "I Am Legend (Blu-ray)"
The end of the world is a premise that has been used over the years in cinema to good effect, whether it’s used as a more cerebral approach or a more of action orientated film. If you have seen the films that are the original source material for the recent fashion of re-makes you may get the impression that the remakes aren’t actually worth doing based on the grounds the original is better, with I Am Legend the remake rules have been rolled out in force. This being the third remake of the story, probably the best known version is the Charlton Heston film called The Omega Man released in 1971, a film that is considered to be a cult classic for its style and characters. However the latest version takes the same premise of a viral disease being let loose yet does the approach in a totally different and modern style reflecting a more brutal fashon of story telling.
Will Smith plays the main character of Robert Neville, a Military man who as we discover is the last human in New York City, Neville’s back story is explained in flashbacks showing the mass evacuation and the loss of his family in a helicopter accident. Neville remains in the city and attempts to find a cure for the disease that initially was a cure for cancer, but evolved into a viral strain that turns humans into nocturnal predators. Smith has no one to talk to except his German Shepherd that he uses as a friend as well as security. You see the man go through a lot of changes in an attempt to bring some normality in life, after all the worlds population has decreased by 90% and so loneliness is the only thing that Neville has. This is shown to quite dramatic effect when he is walking around the city hunting for food, vast stretches of New York lie empty and barren with the city caught in some horrific snapshot of emptiness. These shots are chilling in nature when they are shown on screen. Smith plays the part well, thankfully the approach taken is serious in nature and so we have a more mature Smith playing the main character of a Military scientist attempting to bring an end to this apocalyptic event. He is a man on the edge and so the majority of his dialogue is either aimed at his dog or at immobile objects that Neville has set up in shops to try and raise the levels of his day. This alone sets the bar and shows the audience just how far down the road the man has travelled. Every day Neville attempts to try and contact the outside world by means of Radio, you see a man desperate for some kind of response. The films take a suspenseful turn when one of the many traps that Neville has across the city successfully captures one of the changed humans and so Neville takes it back to his lab, this in turn brings him face to face with the beasts that he is trying to save.
The film is clever in how it tells the story, the film opens with a number of sporadic flashbacks and you see how the world has been changed, interestingly the scenes in the flashbacks are powerful statements that show panic, chaos and desperation with what is happening. Whilst the scenes set in the present are empty and lonely, it is quite a chilling comparison that certainly delivers a message. I was quite shocked at the lengths that the US Military go to secure the city as a quarantined area, by destroying all bridges and paths that can be used as a way out and seeing as the film was set just a few years after 9/11 thought that this would still be fresh in peoples minds, in fact the scenes of chaos and destruction did just that for me and it was the first thing bought to my mind.
This isn’t a bad film at all, but given the subject has been done time and again before the film is somewhat diluted before it is even seen, obviously if you haven’t seen any of the predecessors for this film then this film will deliver a high amount of entertainment and suspense that is perfect Saturday night viewing. However, if like me you have seen the films before then the films pace is something that isn’t necessarily consistent till last third and even though the first third is basically setting the foundation for the story, the film itself does tend to grow and evolve with what it has to offer and by the end you’ll see that it is something better than the usual Will Smith offering that Smith knowing he is the main man in the film tends to cocky and quite ignorant in nature, it is Smith that holds the film and for the better part makes the film his own and carries it of well, after all it’s a “one man and his dog” show at the beginning. One thing I did notice was that there is still a lot of product placement in this post apocalyptic world and for me I found this quite distracting in nature as it just so happens that he drives a well known brand of car or drinks a premier beer!
The special effects in the film are another aspect that is surprising and well done; these are seen throughout and used to the right capacity and to the right tone. The explosions are big and the sound is loud, which is how it should be with regards to the story, after all the film has the whole of New York to play with and the story doesn’t necessarily go out the boundaries at all and even though the film is set in a citywide landscape the loneliness does make the film quite claustrophobic in nature. The use of music is done in the right places and so the vast emptiness is explored in virtual silence which on its own is powerful to behold on screen.
As this is a Smith film and the level of production is high as expected with his films, the extras on the Blu-ray is expected to reflect that fact. Sadly the expectations I had were not met and the extras will leave you saying is that all that they could deliver from a film such as this? Probably the best thing on here is the Alternative Ending to the film which is more upbeat and understanding than the one in the film, an ending that could have had possibilities and something that should have been an option rather than the downbeat ending that I was left feeling quite numb about. The Alternate Ending can also be played as an option and it is watching the film with this to grasp the difference. Also included in the package is the production of the film and the efforts that Smith went to obtain the ripped physique he shows off with pride. But the documentary that I watched called The Science of I Am Legend goes through and matched the science of the film with reality; if it doesn’t confuse you then you must have a PHD! The picture is crisp as you would expect from Blu-ray and the colours are rich and dark, even the more pastel colours in the film are presented very clearly.
If you’ve read the books or seen the other films then you’ll know the ending straight away and probably feel this is a cop out, however putting that aside then the film is entertaining and presented in a slightly different manner to some recent action films that seem to be rather thin on plot and story. It starts high and by the end seems to run out of steam where the use of the suspense has been overused.
Product Information : I Am Legend (Blu-ray)
Manufacturer's product descriptionIn I AM LEGEND, Will Smith joins the ranks of Vincent Price (in 1964's THE LAST MAN ON EARTH) and Charlton Heston (in 1971's OMEGA MAN) as the star of an adaptation of Richard Matheson's 1954 novel of the same name. Often surprising in its focus on loneliness and loss, this thoughtful, eerie, and restrained sci-fi horror film provides a parade of startling visuals, but never allows special effects to overcome the human element. Smith, in a strong performance very different from his usual persona, is Robert Neville, the lone survivor in a New York City where streets are overgrown and deer gambol among deserted vehicles. Following an epidemic, the Earth's population has been turned into an army of nocturnal zombies. Immune to the virus, military scientist Neville searches for a cure in his Washington Square townhouse. Haunted by visions of his family leaving quarantined Manhattan two years prior, he drives through the city with his German Shepherd, Sam, by day and barricades his home from the monsters nightly. But when Anna (Alice Braga)--another immune stranger-finds him, they will have to fight the onslaught twice as hard.<BR><BR>Akiva Goldsman and Mark Protosevich's emotionally-charged script showcases the charisma of Smith, who commands the screen alone for most of the picture (aside Abbey, the talented pooch). Director Francis Lawrence (CONSTANTINE) uses music minimally, wisely allowing the eerie cityscapes to remain mostly silent. The set pieces, including an overgrown, deserted Times Square and a lion hunting a deer in the Flatrion District, are goose bump-inducing moments of stark beauty. A chilling and effective adaptation of a horror classic, I AM LEGEND is also a thought-provoking piece of Hollywood filmmaking.
Listed on Ciao since: 06/03/2008