I Am Legend

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From the novella/short book of the same name by Richard Matheson.*

Will Smith is alone in New York City, in a time when most of the people in the world have died or turned into vampire-ish creatures.

There’s a SPOILER up ahead, in the next sentence actually. Not a big surprise, but if you want to avoid it, see the movie first before you read this review.

 

 

No hurry, I’ll wait for you to turn to another review…or how about some pictures of my cats?

Okay. I think they’ve all gone. Back to the review.

 

 

 

 

So there’s Serious Honey Will Smith, alone in New York. With his dog. And what’s the ONE THING YOU ARE SURE OF GOING INTO THIS MOVIE? The dog’s gonna die. The dog ALWAYS dies.

That aside? it was a really good movie. I hadn’t read the book when I saw this, but I’ve read enough Matheson to know that the original story, although interesting and having a good ending, was probably wierd and depressing. I remember seeing one of the previous two versions of this story, The Omega Man with Charlton Heston, in my lost youth, although the actual plot has been blotted from my memory, as well as whether I saw it at a theater or on Saturday afternoon moster-movie television. According to IMDB, it came out in 1971, so it was probably TV.

But I digress.

So there’s Will Smith, alone in New York City. He has memory flashbacks so we know that what happened to the human race happened as a result of a bioengineered vaccine against something like measles, which mutated. (And caused by Emma Thompson, in a good cameo.) And of course he’s immune, and trying desperately to find a cure (in the state-of-the-art sealed laboratory in the basement of his apartment…that has restraints strong enough to hold these superstrong vampiry things? give me a break…)

He’s living in his apartment building, which he has kept the bad things from finding somehow, and he and his dog go foraging for food and supplies. And fight off the bad things, which are not exactly vampires but more like supercharged ninja megamean rabid guys who like blood a lot.

This movie is very well made, great effects (expected) but (not expected) Smith is actually a very good actor; he carries the first half of the movie by himself, with the occasional flashback, and does a good job of it, especially the ‘slightly crazy from loneliness’ parts.

But the scene where the dog dies, oh man. I won’t give away details of what happens, but I will say that all you see is Smith’s face, and all his emotions…and it is an amazing ten or twenty seconds of film, let me tell you.

After seeing this, I found and read the original story, which is almost completely different from this screenplay. I liked the movie way better.


*EXTRA POINTS BONUS QUIZ!!!

Which of these movies was NOT from a Richard Matheson novel?

  • I Am Legend
  • What Dreams May Come
  • The Incredible Shrinking Woman
  • Somewhere in Time
  • Planet of the Apes
  • The Legend of Hell House
  • The Omega Man
  • Soylent Green
  • The Young Warriors
  • The Last Man on Earth
  • The Incredible Shrinking Man
(answer below)

 

 

 

 

 

 

He didn’t write Make Room! Make Room! (the novel by Harry Harrison on which Soylent Green is based) or La Planète des Singes, better known as Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle. Still, a pretty impressive list of work…and that’s not including his original screenplays or his many TV scripts.

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