I Am Legend: Not Worth the Wait 

Attention all fans of 28 Days Later, Children of Men, Twelve Monkeys, The Descent, Signs, The Road Warrior, Night of the Comet, and/or Richard Matheson fiction: Do I have a film for you to avoid: I Am Legend. (Independence Day devotees, your movie is waiting.)

I Am Legend is the long-gestating adaptation of the 1954 Matheson sci-fi/horror novel of the same name. Previously brought to film as Vincent Price's The Last Man on Earth and Charlton Heston's The Omega Man, I Am Legend has been linked for years to moviemakers such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ridley Scott, and Michael Bay. Finally, the movie's out, in the combination of star Will Smith and director Francis Lawrence. It was not worth the wait.

The film opens three years after a genetically engineered measles virus escapes labs and gets into the general population. Everybody on earth is either killed by the virus or by those whom the virus has turned into monsters. The last man on earth: Colonel Robert Neville, a virologist who conveniently is an expert on the sickness. Plus, he's immune, so that helps. Neville is stranded on Manhattan Island with his dog — last man on earth's best friend. He spends his days working on a cure to the virus, eating canned goods, and palling around with his pup. He also has to be mindful of New York's other remaining citizens: the vampire-like, virus-ravaged fiends.

Can just screenwriter Akiva Goldsman go on strike? Goldsman has made a career of making bad movies based on books I'm fond of. Going chronologically backward: I Am Legend, The Da Vinci Code, I, Robot, the two horrible Batman movies, and A Time to Kill. (To be fair, he shares I Am Legend screenwriting co-blame with Mark Protosevich.) Good thing I never read A Beautiful Mind or Practical Magic. Up next for Goldsman: Da Vinci follow-up Angels & Demons. It'll suck, too.

I Am Legend doesn't get everything wrong. It opens with a fast and furious deer hunt safari through New York City's savannah. And Smith isn't a bad choice for this role. He can act, for one, and he's a convincing action star.

But Smith can't escape the film's shallowness. It's not a cautionary tale. It has no politics. Its spirituality is as shoddy as its science. It fails its own internal logic. Worst, I Am Legend has no meaningful human element.

Instead, the film is commercialism run roughshod. (But not in a knowing, Dawn of the Dead way.) To maintain his connection with his own humanity, Neville goes shopping. For leisure, Neville hits golf balls off the tail of an SR-71 Blackbird atop an aircraft carrier in New York harbor. It's a pretty, sweeping, expensive-looking shot. I'd trade it for a quiet scene with Neville making art, playing music, or writing in Washington Square. In a key scene, Neville bonds with someone over a shared love for Shrek — and not a shared sense of tragedy or even hope. Tis the season.

I Am Legend

Opening Friday, December 14th

Multiple Locations

Keep the Flyer Free!

Always independent, always free (never a paywall),
the Memphis Flyer is your source for the best in local news and information.

Now we want to expand and enhance our work.
That's why we're asking you to join us as a Frequent Flyer member.

You'll get membership perks (find out more about those here) and help us continue to deliver the independent journalism you've come to expect.


Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
    • The Predator

      Writer/director Shane Black reboots Schwarzenegger’s 80s alien nemesis in The Predator
    • 2018 Outflix Film Festival

      Memphis' Long Running LBGTQ Film Festival Stresses Community Outreach
    • Crazy Rich Asians

      Director John Chu does rom com right

Blogs

Music Blog

Love Story

Hungry Memphis

All-Star Chef Lineup to Celebrate Andrew Michael's 10th

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

Music Video Monday: Brennan Villines

News Blog

Explore Bike Share Expands to Mud Island

From My Seat

The USFL: When Pro Football Was Fun

Tiger Blue

Tigers 52, South Alabama 35

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

Let's Do The Time Warp Drive-In With John Waters

Intermission Impossible

Hattiloo Puts the School-to-Prison Pipeline in the Spotlight

News Blog

Female Population On the Rise at Shelby County Jail

ADVERTISEMENT

More by Greg Akers

Readers also liked…

  • Fifty Shades Freed

    Feature length commercial for luxury goods or chilling glimpse into the post-human future?
    • Feb 16, 2018
  • Death Grip

    Memphis filmmaker Sam Bahre talks about his 11-year struggle to create I Filmed Your Death.
    • Apr 19, 2018
  • I Am Not Your Negro

    Raoul Peck’s documentary brings James Baldwin’s words to an America that needs to listen.
    • Feb 24, 2017
ADVERTISEMENT
© 1996-2018

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation