Note - I found this review from December in my Blogger drafts folder for some reason. Not quite sure why it didn't publish but there you are. Anyway, here it is now.
Thanks to my brother-in-law I snagged a couple of tickets to the cinema last night to see Will Smith's I Am Legend. It's a worthy addition to the other versions of Matheson's classic story- Vincent Price's Last Man on Earth and Charlton Heston's Omega Man.
Will Smith is superb as the lonely Robert Neville and the scenes of a desolate New York are brilliantly done- from the vegetation clogged streets to old plastic-wrapped quarantined buildings to the Batman-Superman movie poster and the sounds of the post-apocalyptic city; the setting is the co-star of the film. Having said that, Smith is outstanding; he ably carries the film and his portrayal of Neville is incredibly well done. A nod too goes to Emma Thompson; she appears only briefly in the film as a scientist being interviewed on TV and she is brilliantly realistic, seeming uncomfortable and ineloquent.
My criticisms of the movie are few- way too much CGI for the infected and, I think, some poor CGI for the deer. There were rumours that Johnny Depp was to have played the arch-antagonist Cortman and having seen the film I wish now that they had gone that way; CGI has its place in the film certainly, especially with the way the infected move, but it would have been so much better to have a real face on the bad guys. With the CGI characters, there was a sense of unreality to proceedings which took away the feel of danger Neville was in.
I would also have liked it to have been longer; with more detail on Neville's existence and a good deal more on the infected as they become a bigger threat to him. The first scene where Neville encounters them is one of the most tense and nail-biting I've seen on the big screen, it seemed like everyone in the cinema was holding their breath while it was playing out. After that though the story seemed to skip forward and I feel like the movie would have benefited with a bigger build up to the climax. It kind of feels as if the makers just ran out of time or money and the latter part of the film plays out far too quickly. It would certainly have benefited from more cat and mouse between Neville and the mutant zombie vampires.
Some complaint, eh? Make the film longer and give me more!
I hear too that the ending was changed after test audiences didn't like the original; I'm not too pleased with the one that was shown but hopefully the director's concept will appear on the DVD release. Other than that though, it's an excellent film- Smith delivers a great performance, the pace is spot on and the tension is high. A must see movie.