I finally saw I Am Legend this weekend. No, not the dried up old Vincent Price version or even the Charlton Heston one. I’ve seen those smoking turds and suffered for it. No, I’m talking Will Smith’s I Am Legend. I was hoping this would be the definitive “one movie to rule them all” version I’d been hoping for.
First things first. If you’re a fan of Richard Matheson’s novel (as I am) and that’s your main reason for seeing this movie … forget about it. The movie has almost nothing in common with the book. They could have called it “Will Smith – Monster Killer!” for all you’ll care.
For the rest of you, the novel is one of the first “vampires/zombies take over the world” stories. It’s about the last uninfected human and his daily struggle to survive in a world of vampires. The theme was about the loneliness of being a social outcast, where an ordinary man becomes that weirdo down the street that nobody talks to. He’s weird because he isn’t a crazed, murdering vampire like everyone else. He reasons that the world belongs to their kind now and that people like him – people who were once seen as normal – will become things of the past. Eventually, humans like us will become legends like the vampires of his time once were. Thus, he is doomed to become a thing of ancient legend. (Thus, I Am Legend … get it?)
The setting for Smith’s movie is basically the same. He’s a man trapped in a world overrun by monsters who want to eat people. It does a great job of capturing the drudgery and the loneliness of the hero’s daily existence. But none of the events seem familiar to me, and I’ve read the book. Apart from the setting and a couple of names, the stories are completely different. This isn’t such a bad thing. The first half of the movie is a little long. Tighter editing might have helped a bit, but it still works. (Vampire rats rule!) The latter third of the movie kinda blows, though.
I don’t know who decided to impose this bizarro, out of place theme on the movie, but some “genius” screwed everything up by pushing some weirdo “faith vs secularism/science” theme on us. I’m not just saying this because I’m an atheist. I’m saying it because they snuck it on us out of nowhere and it detracted more than it helped. Even believers will suffer from whiplash on this one. The book’s ending was in keeping of the overall theme throughout. I don’t want to give it away, but Matheson had balls the producers of Will Smith’s movie have yet to find.
Basically, the movie was pretty good. I’d have to say it’s rental material, not “let’s spend our cash on the movies with all that hassle” material. Too bad. The first half was sooo promising. It’s not as big a let down for me as The Matrix movie sequels, but it comes pretty close.
“I don’t think we’re
in Kansas any more,
Now I’m just bitter.
-the Atheist Geek-