Saturday, December 29, 2007

Review: I Am Legend

A Warner Brothers picture 2007

Directed by Francis Lawrence

Writing credits:
Mark Protosevich (screenplay)
Akiva Goldsman (screenplay)
Richard Matheson (novel)

After a supposed miracle vaccine turns the world's population into undead mutants, one scientist (Will Smith) fights for a cure.

This apocalyptic effects extravaganza suffers from the worst of Hollywood flaws - a poor script. The idea itself is great: a man, perhaps the last alive in the entire world, struggles to find a cure for a devastating vaccine that was supposed to cure cancer. One man alone in the world... think of all the things you could do with that concept! Well, this movie doesn't do anything interesting, and is riddled with plot holes and hokey movie-science.


Legend sets up some basic facts for the environment and the effects of the virus: 1) Manhattan is completed quarantined, as the bridges were all blown up. 2) The virus is spread both air-borne and through saliva. 3) The creatures effected by the virus show no signs of human behavior, social skills, or human intelligence.

The film then systematically debunks all of these rules through action.


If Manhattan has no road access, how do Anna and her son Ethan, Smith's supposed saviors, drive their car onto the island? Where do the deer and lions roaming the streets come from?

How come 1% of the population is immune the virus? Why are some animals effected by the airborne virus, but others are not? At what point did the virus stop curing cancer and start killing people?

The film spends time setting up this arch-nemesis type creature who appears bigger than the other mutant humans and seems to exhibit some basic behavior skills. For example, he runs after the woman creature Smith catches; he sets up a trap for Smith; he leads the creatures in the attack on Smith's fortress. But the script doesn't elaborate on this idea any further, and goes out of its way to suggest that this character is merely a freak anomaly. So what's the point? Likewise, why did Smith kill himself at the end? There's no reason for it - he could have easily tossed the grenade and hid with the woman and things would have turned out the same.

There is also a lot of coincidence and repetition of scenes. Smith's character just so happens to find the cure as the creatures are breaking into his fortress - just like how Anna just so happens to show up right as Smith is about to kill himself. Smith hunts deer at least twice. Why do we need to see this more than once? Why is he hunting deer in the first place? It's not like he needs them for food. Repetition is a tall tell sign of poor screen writing.

The landscape scenes look gorgeous - especially on IMAX - but the creature effects are extremely second rate. They could have easily just dressed up a bunch of people as zombies but for some reason they used this incredibly fake looking CGI.

Millions of people have already seen this movie and it blows my mind that no one has taken the time to just think about what the film presents. Two minutes of meditation on the story reveals that it's a pretty incoherent, illogical pile of crap - not even in a nit-picky sense, but on a basic transitional level. See it on IMAX, if you must see it at all.