I am Legend

Okay, last movie post for a while I hope. The new Will Smith vehicle stars Will Smith as an Army Colonel and Scientific Genius with a Loving Family; Will Smith also manages to Save the World (again). You go Will!

Strangely the film is nowhere near as bad as it might sound. It is based on pretty good source material, a clever inversion of the vampire story. A lot of the original comes through although the script sprawls and often staggers under the weight of sub-plots. There is no need, for example, for the extensive flashbacks as the fate of the protagonists family is ludicrous and is far better left to the imagination. The appearance of survivors creates an entirely different film that is rather at odds with the initial section. Ultimately the film drowns in forced sentiment.

The most interesting comparison is with 28 Days Later which achieves a lot more deserted city for a lot less budget. The CGI vampires in I am Legend are almost comical compared to the Infected. They all look like a squishy bodied Gollums with laughter-inducing ragged clothes to save their modesty ala The Incredible Hulk.

So what is actually good about it? Well the wildlife CGI is excellent and Will Smith is one of those actors who is great at interacting with stuff that isn’t actually there, he’s an actor of the CGI Age. He also manages some moments of completely convincing acting, he does an incredible fear for example. Ultimately he undermines himself with the usual wise-cracking and clowning because he undermines the pathos he has just so painstakingly built up. However he is a decent action hero with a wider range than dinosaurs such as Stallone and Schwarzenegger.

The most notable thing though is the way it uses silence. Sound-wise is not quite Dogme but it is as close as you are going to get in a mainstream film. There are stabs, soliloquies and the sound has all been cleaned up but there is no orchestral music filling up dead scenes and there are long periods of silence which help contribute to the idea that this really is the last man left on earth.

Thank god for a little experimentation in an action flick, now lets have the sixty minute edit.


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