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 I Am Legend
 Critic's Rating
   [C+]
 Date Posted
   6th January, 2008
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Cast: Will Smith, Salli Richardson, Alice Braga
Director: Francis Lawrence

The studio behind 'I Am Legend' should be commended for making at least one right decision; casting Will Smith as Robert Neville, the (supposedly) last man on Earth. If you are going to make a movie about the only human survivor of a viral outbreak in the future, a virus that unleashes itself upon the unsuspecting human population under the guise of a cure for cancer and which turns everyone into zombie like creatures, you might as well make sure that this person is someone the audience would want to watch for the better part of the film. The film gets this part right, and in some ways has similarities to 'Cast Away', but none of its depth, restrain or impact. Truth be told, even the novelty of an empty New York, lovingly explored during the major portion of the running time, wears off very quickly. It may be new for audiences who have never seen similar (and much superior) films such as '28 Days Later', but to me it lacked not just originality, but also any real clout. Not aiding the situation are the living dead - such obvious albino CGI beings that they distract and divert attention instead of proving to be any real threat.

To its credit, and very surprisingly for a big budget movie such as this, New York is shown to be suitably grim and empty and the tone and aura that this creates is fantastic, if short lived. In fact, if anything, this is probably the one reason to go and see 'I Am Legend', or at least the first two-thirds, where Neville hunts, runs, traps and outwits his nemesis all on his own with his faithful dog by his side. The last act on the other hand, is a chaotic mess of muddled scripting and false ambitions. It turns dramatic with Neville's attempts at coming to grips with his isolation. Talking to mannequins, watching 'Shrek' on television and repeating the lines verbatim (I'm not kidding!), really start to take their toll on the viewing experience and weaken an already flimsy premise. Perhaps what is most frustrating about the film is learning that the original story was more unique than the borrowed premise that the film constructs itself around. Richard Matheson's 1954 science fiction novel created a world that was inspired by H.G. Well's 'The Time Machine' in the way the living dead were akin to Morlocks who were intrigued by the hideousness of Robert Neville's human form, and who sent him one of their own so she could learn more about him. Thus the legend of the title was given birth out of entirely different set of circumstance, and not out of palpable sense of heroism, as this film suggests at the end. A sinking feeling of opportunity lost at viewing the film adaptation does not require one to be familiar with any of this; only a sense of good taste will do. - Faizan Rashid

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