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I Am Legend: So Much Potential, Yet So Tiresome

I Am Legend is not a terrible movie. It's simply disappointing to see something that could have been great — and that starts out with some excellent things going for it — whimper out to nothing in the end. Based on Richard Matheson's 1954 sci-fi novel, this story has been adapted for film before (Last Man on Earth, Omega Man), with moderate success. Why a modern-day adaptation was supposed to work best is unclear (maybe the use of CGI was alluring?). Will Smith has a challenging task, acting almost entirely alone for the better part of the film, and he's surprisingly good at it. But his fine performance becomes the film's one redeeming quality, and one is not enough.

The movie starts out with Smith's character, Robert Neville, roaring around Manhattan in a sweet car, hunting for food. The visual construction of a barren, silent New York City is this film's strength. It's eerie to see "the city that never sleeps" half-crumbled, overgrown with weeds and devoid of human life. We discover that three years earlier, a virus took hold of the city and wiped out the entire city's population (and then the world's population) — with the exception of a few immune people, like Robert, and a group of infecteds who turned into "the night seekers." To find out more about these crazies,


These former humans are now vampireish, zombielike monsters who can't stand the light and prowl around at night looking to destroy/infect any survivors. Robert, a scientist, diligently works to find a cure for the virus using his blood, though capturing an infected without being attacked himself proves challenging. Thus, it turns into a race against time: Robert trying to figure out a cure before any of the night-seekers destroy him.

The science-fiction aspects of the film are often intriguing — and far and away more interesting than the disgusting animated night-seekers who alternate between gratingly annoying and laughably ridiculous. The vicious, hairless, screeching monsters resemble larger and stronger versions of Gollum from Lord of the Rings but are emptier and more pointless versions of Gollum. As the film continues, there are more and more jump-scares, featuring a quiet scene jarringly interrupted by a sudden noise (usually the outrageously obnoxious monster screaming sound), a tactic that grows incredibly tiresome. Soon the struggle becomes that of Robert trying to stay alive against an army of night seekers — which, while more action-packed, is a far less compelling storyline than seeing Robert figure out a cure. Thus, there are ways that this movie could have been cooler and more interesting, but the cheap scares and goofy CGI monsters bring it down many notches from what it might have been.

Photos courtesy of Warner Bros.

Join The Conversation
panda_girl panda_girl 9 years
i actually really liked this movie! thought it was pretty good! One of the best I've seen in a while. i loved both Robert and Sam, and just about bawled at what happened to Sam!!! *cry*
mynameisamy3 mynameisamy3 9 years
I saw this last night and wasn't impressed. Like most people have said, it had the potential to be so much better than it was. They had so many opportunities to do something different and fresh and twisting, but they didn't. So, I felt it never really went anywhere, the scares were cheap, the CGI was terrible, and religious undertones threw me off. I didn't care for it at all, and that's disappointing. Especially because I live in Japan so I only go see about 4 movies a year. I'm just happy it was "cheap" ticket night - only ten bucks! >.<
Stacy14878746 Stacy14878746 9 years
Caterpillar Girl said exactly what I think about the movie. The movie was sooooooo close to being awesome!! How frustrating.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 9 years
Dog part = me sobbing on my boyfriend's shoulder. Also, this movie was TERRIFYING! I didn't realize it was kind of a horror movie-ish vibe, so I was completely unprepared
pinupsweetheart pinupsweetheart 9 years
For a Will Smith movie, I thought it was good. At some parts I was crawling out of my chair not knowing what was going to happen next. It was not quite the same as his past movies, but I think it was worth my ticket price.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
I wonder what beauty and horror could have come out of a true adaptation. and what Will Smith could have done with that? I imagine him captured by the "vampires" hearing all of them calling for his death and knowing that he is the last of his kind, his family is dead, humanity is dead and in minutes he will be. it would have been amazing instead i got Sh*tty CGI and "happy" ending
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
How is this an adaptation at all of the book, much less a good one? This book written in 1954, and takes place in 1976 is one of the most influential horror novels ever. It changed so much about "vampire" fiction. In the Book Neville lives in LA, and he is the last man on earth after a bacterium he labels as "vampiris" changes everyone into nightdwelling bloodthirsty yet intellegent creatures. He even tests out all the vampire mythology and goes and used stakes, garlic, holy water, crosses (which have no effect on people who were jews or muslims!)He has lost his wife and daughter and at night can hear his old neighbors calling to him to come out, they hate and fear him. He finds a dog alive after he believed he was the only non infected mammal, the dog is frightened of him with good cause because all the rest of the "men" want to kill him, and its a long process to get the dog to trust and love him, only to end up losing it in the end. Its a story of human nature, of indescribable lonliness, when an "uninfected" woman shows up needing his help and companionship and ultimately betrays him its heartbreaking. The "vampires" want Robert dead, not to feed on him, but because he is a "monster" to them, one of the "humans" who did this to the world and therefore need to be eliminated and let them live thier lives without fear. Humans will become Legend to them...he is legend. I AM LEGEND. Makes more sense now right? not "robert found a cure...and now he is legend to the survivors?" Vomitous hollywood prattle.
sumnboutme sumnboutme 9 years
they both die in the book... i'm still not sure if i want to see the movie since I loved the book and I don't want it ruined.
Knight-Who-Says-Ni Knight-Who-Says-Ni 9 years
You know, the dog isn't REALLY dead. It's a movie.
Jat09 Jat09 9 years
I didnt think the movie was as good as I thought it was going to be, but I still thought it was a pretty good movie. I cried, of course, and the whole plot line I thought was eerie. And Will Smith, he is awesome!
KimmieChronicles KimmieChronicles 9 years
Thank you Heather13 for putting this movie into perspective. This is a wonderful adaptation of the novel. Not all movies have to follow the book they were based on to a tee. The novel was used as a base, and I think NYC is the best place to shoot something like this; LOTS of places for the "night seekers" to hide, a uncomfortable silence (if you've been to NYC or lived/live there, you know what I mean). As Heather13 states in the comment, the dog's death is an integral part of the story, and she does die a hero which makes it more bearable to watch. I think it's a much better movie than Buzz's review. Go watch it for yourself and be the judge. :)
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
I read “I am Legend” years and years ago I was so excited because it’s such an amazing book, and I was even more excited when I heard Will Smith was playing Robert Neville. I walked out of that movie theater in shock, not because it was a good movie, but because they ruined it in such a way that I cannot overlook it, not even for Will. He gives an outstanding performance, and I would say see it just for him, but the meat of the film is rotten. I didn’t expect them to follow the book exactly, this is America after all and everything has to have a happy ending. The worst part of the movie, is its over use of CGI effects. I hate movies that rely 90% on CGI when they don’t have too. 28 days later had real flesh and blood plague victims and they were frightening, this movie doesn’t have one single corporeal bad guy, they are all made on a computer. Your mind is watching them, and your brain is struggling and saying “be scared, be scared” but logic overcomes and you just realize how ridiculous they look and you know they aren’t even there. Will tries his hardest to act against this detriment, and it would have worked had they not been poor effects, and by poor, I am talking CGI that looks like CGI from 10 years ago, “The Mummy” territory. I could cry they were so bad. So if you love Will, go ahead and go and support him, but I am warning anyone who loved this book that you will leave scratching your head. And its nothing to do with Scientology
michelleyk michelleyk 9 years
I Think I'm still going to see the movie. It's sounds interesting, and my mom loves "zombie" movies, so I'll drag her along (I'm in my late 20s, but I still bring my mom to the scary movies! I can't bring my BF, it's too embarrassing hiding my eyes for 75% of the time) As for the animals dying thing, I think rlire01 hit on the head. Humans can be good, bad, indifferent...but animals are usually portrayed as pure love, loyalty. So, I will bawl my eyes out whenever a dog dies. I can't help it. But I do the same when children die in's just brings out the waterworks in me.
a-lifetime-ago a-lifetime-ago 9 years
I went to see this film last night, and I was very upset when the dog (Samantha) died. She did however die because she saved Smith's character's life, and they showed just how upset he was about it. The death of the dog was a pivotal plot point, without it the story would have gone no where. Our group agreed that after that the movie went downhill but not just because the dog passed in the film. People are correct to be upset about the passing of this character because she was the only other creature with Smith in the first half of the film, and she does an excellent job. I believe it was PetSugar that reported that she was a stray that was trained for the movie in just three weeks, and the only thing she wouldn't do was fetch. Also people are more bothered at the passing of animals (particularly dogs and cats) then the passing of people in films because our relationships with people are much more complicated then our relationships with pets. Pets give unconditional love 24/7, people don't; so when they die in films people get upset.
mallomar mallomar 9 years
hmmmm... the plot sounds reminiscent of 28 Days Later
pargie pargie 9 years
LOL, that's why I made the comment about people dying. Crazy that people can watch people die on movies, but not animals. But seriously, I don't like to see people get killed/murdered on movies. If an animal dies, that isn't as big of a deal unless the movie is about the animal and they are one of the main characters (or Bambi's mom). I won't go see this movie, because the creatures look scary and because people probably die.
cloudy-D cloudy-D 9 years
THANK YOU! allyw7, Reality check people ,it's a movie!
allyw7 allyw7 9 years
It's just a dog. Not that big of a deal. And it's just a movie. The dog isn't really going to be dead. Get over it.
Lee-Pace-fan Lee-Pace-fan 9 years
dang, i still wanna see this movie so bad!!! i'm trying to find the originals to compare..but can you believe the director of this film went from directing music videos for Britney Spears and stuff to this! it's nuts:D!!!...when i heard that, my hopes went down for a second, but you never know...this film still looks somewhat badass:D
NOLA2SoCal NOLA2SoCal 9 years
I saw this movie on IMAX last night and thought it was very good! As an animal lover, I know it sucks when the dog dies. However, it is crucial to the plot and the dev. of Smith's character. I have also read the book and at first I felt like the movie should have gone a little further into why this happened and things like that. However, I'm glad that it did not. It would have gotten way too unfocused if it had. I did not mind the night seekers and the cgi that went into them...they were supposed to show the degeneration of humans into just being one of those creatures void of human qualities. Smith holds the screen alone in a brilliant manner and you really feel like he has been alone for 3 years. All in all, I felt like it was one of the strongest movies of the year! ****I would go see this movie again in IMAX just to watch the 5min Dark Knight Preview!!!! It was the real highlight of the experience!!!!!!! That is going to be a great movie!
sunnynight sunnynight 9 years
Dang. And I was so looking forward to this.
hotstuff hotstuff 9 years
Lovekailua, that's funny, when you said how once one comment starts they all come and how pop isn't what it used to be, I seriuosly thought you were talking about the almost 20 straight comments reffering to not seeing the movie because the dog dies, oh well. Of course nobody has to see it if they don't want to! It is interesting though how people would refuse to see a movie about 1 dog that dies but not refuse to see it because of the MILLIONS of people that die. Very interesting indeed.
heather13 heather13 9 years
Katwo - I haven't seen Omega Man in years but I loved it when I was younger. It was the first movie I saw that had a "surprise ending". I wouldn't say it's better or worse. I like both quite a lot...although I prefer Omega's ending. I'd definitely rent it, if you're interested.
heather13 heather13 9 years
I saw the movie last night and I give it a strong 4/5. Yes, the dog does not make it but it is important to the movie and to WS's character. The dog dies a hero - does that help?? I'll agree that the screaming of the creatures gets a little tiresome but to follow the book at all, his battle with the creatures is what it is about. It's his legend.
lovekailua lovekailua 9 years
I was waiting for these comments, once one comes they all do. pop sure isn't what it used to be. whatever, i don't want to see a movie where you see a dog die. don't be ridiculous, of course no one think you approve of "dog killing" if you watch the movie, wtf kind of statement is that. i simply do not want to watch a movie where a dog dies, bottom line. that's my choice. no need to make snide comments about it. mlipchick we have a shepherd mix too...they are such great dogs!
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