Will Smith as Robert Neville
Alice Braga as Anna
Charlie Tahan as Ethan
Salli Richardson as Zoe
Willow Smith as Marley
Darrell Foster as Mike – Military Escort
April Grace as TV Personality
Dash Mihok as Alpha Male
Joanna Numata as Alpha Female
Samuel Glen as Military Driver – Jay
James Michael McCauley as Male Evacuee
Marin Ireland as Woman Evacuee
Pedro Mojica as Sergeant
Anthony C. Mazza as Evacuation Cop
Steve Cirbus as Military Police
“28 Days Later” meets “Cast Away” in this post-apocalyptic drama. While the effects are a mixed bag and the pacing is often slow, the suspense is fun and the deserted New York setting is impressive. Will Smith fans should be pleased with his performance.
After a genetically engineered virus destroys the human race, Robert Neville ends up being the last human being left alive in New York City (and possibly the world). Robert spends his time scavenging the ruins of the city with his dog and trying to keep from going insane. But he’s not quite alone.
The virus has turned much of the human race into vampire-like beasts that feed on blood, fly into blind rages, and shun the sunlight. As Robert does his best to avoid being attacked by these mindless creatures, he also uses his skills as a military researcher to try and find a cure for the virus.
The game changes, though, when one of the creatures starts behaving differently. Can Robert survive this new threat long enough to save the human race?
“I Am Legend” is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence.
I have to say that I was in the right mood to enjoy “I Am Legend.” I’ve always liked post-apocalyptic stories and “I Am Legend” is one of the better ones. (I never read the original Richard Matheson novel or saw “The Omega Man,” so I can’t compare this movie to them.) While much of the virus disaster happens off screen, it’s the aftermath that really leaves a strong impression. We see numerous sweeping shots of a deserted New York City three years after the virus hit. Streets are overgrown, herds of deer roam the streets, and cars and debris are everywhere. It gives you a real sense of how big the disaster was without showing it all on the screen.
Will Smith also is good as Robert Neville. The role requires a lot of him and he delivers on all fronts. He’s reasonably believable as a research scientist. He’s believable as a concerned father in the flashbacks. He’s believable as a man on the brink of insanity. And as past films have shown, he can handle the action well. All this together, with a touch of his trademark humor here and there, make it one of his more memorable performances.
“I Am Legend” also does a great job of building up suspense. The film goes for long stretches where very little happens, then it builds up to incredibly intense confrontations between Robert and the creatures. His first encounter with them in a dark building is quite disturbing and certainly sets the audience on edge. They manage to keep this suspense going with every other following confrontation.
What Didn’t Work:
The creatures were alternately impressive and weak as far as the CGI goes. As long as they’re in the dark or not quite visible, they’re very disturbing. But as soon as we see them in full light or in a facial close-up, they don’t look quite right. This is especially the case when they do a big howl and their jaws distend. I think they’re scarier when there’s a trace of humanity still seen in them, but that goes away as soon as the heavy CG comes into play.
The movie also comes in at a reasonable 100 minutes, but sometimes the slow pace makes it feel a bit longer. We have long sweeping shots of the deserted city. They’re great for setting up the environment, but as we get more and more shots of New York, it starts becoming a bit redundant. It also slows the story down quite a bit.
My only other minor gripe involved a major twist towards the end of the film, but I won’t discuss it here. Suffice it to say that I wasn’t entirely happy with the conclusion of the movie as I think it took away from the grim tone of the post-apocalyptic New York City. The ending certainly created more questions than answers.
The Bottom Line:
If you’re looking for a good scare or an interesting post-apocalyptic sci-fi adventure, “I Am Legend” should satisfy you.