A small caveat; I have not read the original novella, nor have I seen either of the prior film versions of this story, so take what I say with a grain of salt. — Brian “Arkle” Webber
Simply put, this was a great movie. Will Smith gave one of the best performances of his career; probably the best one since Ali. When he was scared, I bought it. When he was sad, I bought it. He really sold the character of a man whose grip on sanity has the tensile strength of dollar store dental floss. When award season gets into full scene, I would not be surprised to see his name showing up on some nomination lists. The director also did an excellent job creating the dark atmosphere of the film, and smartly showed you just enough. The directors of “Saw” and “Hostel” could learn something from this film, as it has genuine scares without being incredibly gory. The director also made the smart choice to cut away at key moments leaving things up to your imagination. For example, (and this isn’t a huge spoiler since parts of it are in the trailer), when we get to the flashback scene where Will Smith’s family dies, we are shown just up to the moment before it happens then it cuts away, which was in my opinion a good call on the part of the filmmakers. It also has some genuine sad moments (including a scene with a dog that I won’t spoil except to say it was heartbreaking), and a few comedic moments as well, including a very funny scene where Will Smith recites word for word a scene from the movie Shrek.
I did have a few small problems with the film however. One problem that was probably unavoidable is that of the CGI in the film. It was blended well enough with the live action, but it still looked very computer generated. The CG effects in the Star Wars prequel films were more believable. Second, the ending of the film was a little too Hollywood for my tastes.
Frankly, I think it would’ve been better to leave it ambiguous as to whether or not the ‘survivor colony’ in Vermont was real or not.
That said though, I still think this is one of the best genre films of the year, although if you’re the kind of person who likes his movies mindless and packed to the gills with explosions you probably should skip it. Will Smith’s performance makes up for the choppy visual effects, and the story actually is very compelling, without over-explaining everything. I must also add that it was a brilliant move to incorporate the music of Bob Marley into the film. I thought that was a very nice touch.
So on a scale of 1 to 10, I give “I Am Legend” an 8 1/2. If you only get to see one movie this month, see “The Golden Compass” just to piss off the Catholic League, but if you can see two, see “I Am Legend.”