I Am Legend is just the type of show I seldom miss seeing. I don't always love such films, but I always find something interesting to think about when seeing these end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it stories.
[warning: spoilers below]
I Am Legend is one of the best movies in the genre I've seen in quite some time. In some ways it was quite predictable. It was evident from early on what was going to happen to Sam, and you knew even before entering the cinema that Neville was going to sacrifice himself to save everyone else. There were a few ways, though, in which the film didn't go exactly where I thought it would. Well, that's not quite accurate — it went where I thought it would, but went about it in a way slightly different from what I expected.
Perhaps the biggest point I expected to see handled more in depth was the idea that Neville might have been mistaken in his assessment of the "Dark Seekers," as Anna called them. He continually referred to the "patient" he had captured and treated as "it," in contrast to Anna's use of "her." He came to the conclusion that all human instincts in the infected people were dead when the man nearly entered the daylight, ignoring his survival instinct. I expected to see a little rethinking of this when the same man later set the trap for the good doctor, but it never quite came to the forefront. It is ambiguous in the film whether the Dark Seeker is trying to capture Neville strictly to serve as a meal, or whether he is seeking some sort of revenge for Neville having taken the female from him. I wanted to see a little more exploration of this, or perhaps a hint in Neville that he might have come to some realization that he just might have misjudged them.
The 1954 book I Am Legend (I haven't read it but am familiar with the story) is quite different from the film. I don't know if it exactly explores this issue that I am raising here, but it does at least consider Neville as something less than the perfect hero. In the novel, the "legend" that Neville becomes is something more akin to the vampire legends we have today — in other words, he's the bad guy of the legend. That seems to at least parallel the issue I expected to see raised in the film, even if it is not precisely the same.
It is interesting, in the movie, that Neville gives more regard to Sam than to the Dark Seekers, treating her as almost human, a status the Dark Seekers have lost (he says). He has no real qualms, apparently, about killing the Dark Seekers, doing so in very violent and even cold blooded ways. (He seeks to take out as many as he can in his own suicide attempt.) When he is left with no choice but to kill Sam, he does so in the tenderest and most intimate of ways, strangling her in an embrace (him looking away because he can't bear to watch).
What I do think the film presents well is the idea that humankind has pursued medical/scientific advancement without thought to the consequences and responsibilities attached, and has done so to its own detriment. That's a common thread in the post-apocalypse genre, and it is well handled here. That's part of what is expected when viewing such a film, and this one delivers on that front.
I think, however, that it is somewhat disappointing to see the darker aspects of the story (whether in the book or those potentially raised by the film) left unexplored. But, for all that, Will Smith is typical Will Smith in the film, and makes it enjoyable to watch. There are enough good moments in it, and as long as the viewer is not looking for too much depth, it is fun to watch.
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