I'm a huge fan of end-of-the-world stories; I'm not quite sure why. Something to do with my sick pleasure of seeing the human race wiped out, and my fantasy being one of the last people alive. Of course I want nothing like that to ever happen, but it leads to me watching as many movies about it as I can.
So I was excited when the long delayed I Am Legend went into production. I've been following this project for almost ten years, since Arnold Schwarzenegger was rumored to star. I'm not a huge fan of Will Smith, I think he's good in comedies, I enjoyed both Men in Black films. But I think he personally ruined I, Robot with all his mugging for the camera. After last year's Pursuit of Happyness showed he could convincingly do a dramatic role, I was a little less skeptical. I was also stoked to see director Francis Lawrence's next project; I was one of the few people that truly enjoyed Constantine.
For the most part I really dug I Am Legend, it's one of the best end-of-the-world films yet. Will Smith as Robert Neville traveling through the empty canyons of New York, was one of the most iconic images of the year. I loved the way that nature was taking back the city, with grass growing out of every crack. I could have done without Neville chasing the extremely CG looking deer, then running into the even more CG looking Lions. Real life creatures are nearly impossible to convincingly create in a computer, we all know too well what they look like, but that's a minor complaint.
The creatures were much better designed, and actually scary in a few scenes. I think that make-up for the close-ups would have been a better way to go, and use the CG for the full-body and group shots only. Anyways... I thought the creatures were cool for the most part. I especially liked the scene where Neville chases his dog into an abandoned building, with only his gun light showing the way, it was a real tension builder. I loved how the creatures learn from Neville's actions, and use them against him.
Will Smith's performance was very good, he convincingly portrays the underlying insanity, until everything goes to far and he snaps. I heard some complaints about how he was acting weird; anybody that had witnessed all of humanity die, including his family, and had been living on his own for five years, surrounded by horrible monsters would be a little strange in the head. He could have taken it even further in my eyes, but he's a military-scientist, so he's maybe a little more equipped to handle it.
Overall I really loved the film; the sense of dread that filled the film, the downer, yet happy ending. The effects, except for the deer and lions, are top notch; I've never seen the end-of-humanity better portrayed. Will Smith carried the film very well. I think that Francis Lawrence proves that he's one of the better, big-budget sci-fi directors out there; he's got an great eye, a knack for mixing the normal and the incredible, and most importantly the ability to tell a story. This is a film I'll go back to revisit a few more times.
Maybe I'll check out Omega Man again before it's out on DVD.