Francis Lawrence directs I Am Legend, a new film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Richard Matheson as the sole survivor of a deadly plague which has transformed a large portion of humanity, struggles to survive in New York City an find a cure, the film stars Will Smith, Alice Braga, Charlie Tahan.
I Am Legend was probably a bit of a hard sell to people unfamiliar with the novels or previous films/people that aren’t fans of Will Smith as the idea of watching a film with only him for almost 2 hours might make them go crazy but if you went with the idea and watched the film you may have found that it does sort of work. And maybe ironically because Will Smith is the leading man as Robert Neville in some notable changes from the novel, a different setting (New York) compared to L.A in the novel and with Neville now being an African American man but in the end, neither change is of huge significance.
Will Smith does a pretty great job for the material and extended amount of time he is in the film completely alone, things aren’t entirely boring because Smith is such a charismatic and fun actor to watch on screen but he’s also not in comedy mode here which makes things have a more dramatic angle to them, the film has very few jokes actually but some well worked in ones. The visuals are memorable in seeing a post apocalyptic New York without a soul in sight, reminiscent of the isolated looking London in 28 Days Later but with a difference in this case – being set years after a catastrophe, plants and grass grow on the streets with abandoned cars everywhere and even a few animals eerily roaming around. New York is a city we’re so used to seeing in film as a bustling metropolis but seeing it destitute and empty is quite striking.
Though we do get flashbacks of the world before the virus and see some people but barely, other people do come into the story with mother Anna (Alice Braga) and her son Ethan (Charlie Tahan), bringing a new dynamic to things as Robert relates to them, clearly taken aback as he hasn’t been around other people for a long time as we see, Smith does well in his portrayal of a man who hopes for the best but remains realistic in knowing how bad things are. And while Smith is the star of the show, Braga does a good job of being opposite him and bringing a different voice to the situation they’re all in.
As things progress and we see the transformed humans, the plot does sort of waver a bit as you wonder what exactly Robert plans to do and how he plans to save humanity, though that is revealed, the creatures as well aren’t really given a voice or much screen time and for some in this update and for some that took away from the novels message of Neville being The Legend to the creatures (hence the name of the novel). But judging the film as a standalone adaptation, it serves its version well enough, is interesting and the plot is engaging albeit nothing ground breaking, with good performances from the small cast featured.
. Strong performance from Will Smith
. CGI is a bit cheesy looking, takes away some tension
. Plot does get a tad dull at points but is interesting on the whole