Well, we watched I Am Legend today. You may remember I had some concerns about the film straying too far from the book. Looks like my concerns were right as the film is barely recognisable. It’s what the book probably would have been like if it were written after the author had seen 28 Days Later. In short, it’s a typical zombie film.
It’s not all bad news though. For those that haven’t read the book, it’s a shining example of a zombie movie, with all new monsters that are faster and more agile than the zombies we all grew up with. Like all good movies of the genre it contains a nice mix of creepy chills and jump out of your seat moments. But this movie has one trick up it’s sleeve that others of the genre don’t. This movie has Will Smith.
Every time I watch one of his films, the first time I see Smith on screen I hear the title track to The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air running through my head. For a second, and just a second, he’s that gangly teenager with those psychodelic clothes, and then he transforms entirely into the character he’s portraying. All of these characters have a few things in common – they’re sympathetic, they’re charming and they’re believable. As always Robert Neville as portrayed by Smith is all three, with his charm showing early on through his relationship with Sam, Robert’s dog. The dog is the second star of the film. So well trained and shot that it seems to act better than most recent movie stars, and it’s obvious it adores Will Smith.
This is a good film with some fine acting and some genuine scares in it, but it’s not I Am Legend. It tries to create the same feeling towards the end but misses entirely, replacing the book’s redemptive feeling of hope with regular Hollywood sugar coated twaddle. I’m giving this film my recommendation to those who haven’t read the book, on condition that they go out and buy the book soon afterwards. Those that have read it will enjoy the film a lot more if they try to forget the book while watching it.