I Am Legend felt like a good idea that no one knew what to do with.
There were a few shining stars:
Will Smith’s acting was superb, in a Tom Hanks on an island sort of way, and you really feel for him as he navigates the empty streets of New York with Sam, his devoted dog, and his slowly fading sanity as he tries his best to cure the zombied world around him.
The CGI work was also superb, and you will easily believe that New York was stripped bare and left to sit for a few years to give it that true, hasn’t seen humans in a while look and feel.
However, there were also a few disappointments:
The story was…less than superb. It starts out slow, which is fine, since Will is, after all, alone, except for his dog, so he doesn’t exactly have a lot to do. He spends his time driving around the emptied streets in abandoned sports cars, hunting for deer that now roam those streets, teeing off on the back of an aircraft carrier, and, when he has a few spare moments, trying to cure the zombie disease that has killed off the rest of the world. And hiding from darkness. This takes up most of his time, and most of the first half of the movie is spent setting this groundwork for the story that you think will come.
Unfortunately, the second half of the film doesn’t do much better. There are a few moments when the pace picks up, and you begin to feel as if something is actually going to happen, but they’re few and far between, and you’re soon lulled into a sedated state as you begin to simply watch Will live. Then, the end of the film arrives, and it comes so abruptly that you hardly have time to comprehend what’s going on. Just as quickly as it began, the lights flick back and on you’re left sitting in your chair with a strong feeling of “Meh.”
The story also suffers from the problem of “Well, isn’t that convenient.” Every time something needs to happen, it does, and every time you see a movie cliché building, it doesn’t fail to disappoint. I can only think of one twist that I didn’t see coming, but even that twist seemed forced and didn’t make much sense when you consider what was discussed during the preceding parts of the movie. The ending basically rounded out the whole film, as it managed to be both conveniently timed and cliché filled.
I Am Legend just feels like a film that relied on a lot of CGI and Will Smith to cover up a thin plot and poor, cliché details. It lacked the scare that it needed to be a good horror film, the emotion that it needed to be a good ‘man on an island’ film, and the twists and turns it needed to be a good action/adventure film. Instead, it forces its way through a butchering of Richard Matheson’s story, and avoids anything that could have made this a great film.