Written by John Edward Betancourt
The human condition is something our society will always explore. What makes us capable of evil, what makes us capable of good, what makes us laugh and what makes us cry will continue to be broken down until the last man or woman on earth closes their eyes for that final time.
But of all the things we explore about ourselves, there is one that perhaps we take for granted and overlook in our detailed analysis of us, what we mean to one another. We rarely think about how much a person meant to us until they are gone, and with our friends and family around us, the pain of loss can be slowly healed.
But what if there was no one to support us and we lost everything? What if we were truly and utterly alone? It is these sections of the human condition that are thoroughly explored in the 2007 horror/science fiction film...I Am Legend.
Humanity's greatest scientific discovery, is nothing short of a nightmare. The cure for cancer has evolved and is quickly killing off the population. Some are immune, others are host to another variant of the virus that turns them into a vampire like creature. Three years after a vast majority of the human race has been wiped off the planet, there is one man still trying to save what is left. Dr. Robert Neville is working to find a cure in the remains of Manhattan and his greatest challenge lies ahead for the creatures of the night that he has studied in his private lab, have finally taken notice...
In a word, I Am Legend is inconsistent, which is a total shame for what it has to work with. The circumstances that update Richard Matheson's story of the same namesake are awesome, the desolate and decaying New York City are incredible to look at and quite frankly, Will Smith is outstanding and in top form in this film, which should mean we are in for a powerhouse ride, but instead we get a so-so horror flick.
So where does it go wrong? Well, first and foremost, the monsters of the story, the "Darkseekers," the blood loving mutations of the film are in no way terrifying. They are CGI creations that are brutish and mindless, predators yes, but easily avoided with a can of bleach and daylight. Second to that, the film unravels after its best part, when Robert is forced to endure true isolation. Will Smith's acting here is brilliant, but his downward spiral feels rushed and out of place. It would have been way cooler to watch him continue his work and slowly lose the best parts of himself in doing so. Then of course there is the third act which becomes a bloody action sequence and just seems out of place. Granted there is an alternate ending out there that improves upon the original but isn't enough to overcome the not so scary Darkseekers.
Truth is the best parts of this film are the exploration of what our connection to one another means and how important we are to one another and don't know it. Seeing how Robert has set up mannequins around town to talk to, his connection to the dog, his need to have the television playing in his home often to have that sense of a world gone by are beautiful touches and should have been explored to the fullest. Not to mention, we needed a more terrifying monster.
But this is not an unwatchable piece of garbage, there is a lot to be seen in this motion picture. Again, I cannot emphasize enough how damn good Will Smith is as Robert Neville and the first two thirds of the movie are haunting and beautiful. If anything, give it a look and then watch the alternate ending, that will certainly make the experience all that much more satisfying.