I Am Legend. No, not a film about me.

17 01 2008

I Am Legend (which would have made a great title for a biopic about me, but alas) was preceded by a lot of hype and this did not bode well. Every film I’ve seen in the last couple of years which was hyped to this level disappointed. Badly. In fact, so badly that some, such as Spiderman 3, felt like a betrayal, a deep emotional wound, scarring me for life. Or at least five minutes.

Luckily I Am Legend bucked the trend. Being such a huge fan of 28 Days Later (which shares some similar plot elements) and having seen the Americans destroy everything that had made it great when they made 28 Weeks Later, I entered the cinema with some trepidation. Had Hollywood managed to ruin a potentially great movie again?

I needn’t have worried. This epic combined some of the best aspects of 28 Days Later with visuals oddly reminiscent of I-Robot (and yet, apart from Will Smith, I know of no connection between the two movies). Speaking of Will Smith, his acting was superb, stitching the comedic, dramatic and emotional threads together beautifully.

One of the more subtle ideas in the film is the way isolation affects the human psyche and Smith nailed this. I’m a fan of films which rely heavily on the lead as a “loner” but thankfully this was more Phone Booth than Castaway. Being a huge lover of dogs (and German Shepherds in particular), though, my favourite character had to be Sam.

The effects were brilliant. Some have claimed the CGI was poor because it looked unrealistic but why on Earth would you want the “infected” to look realistic? Surely the very concept of “realism” dictates that something that is inherently unrealistic (such as the “infected”) look unrealistic, yet with a faint hint of realism? Anyway, what is “realistic” when it comes to things that are, by their nature, not real?

No, the goal here was making the infected look unreal enough to actually be more disturbing than 28 Days Later (which wasn’t at all frightening, even if the social commentary aspects were intriguing) but scarily “real” at the same time, having that slightest shred of humanity visible in the eyes. The use of light and dark and cleverly built suspense kept you on the edge of your seat throughout and I even jumped out of my skin a couple of times. Bear in mind that I’m very difficult to scare.

My only hope now is that the next hugely hyped film that I’m really looking forward to (after I see Sweeney Todd and Charlie Wilson’s War, naturally), Iron Man, is remotely as good. That’s one that’s been on my “must see” list for a few years now, ever since the rumours of it first surfaced. If it is anywhere near as good as I Am Legend I won’t be disappointed. As for I Am Legend, It Was Legendary.


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3 responses

17 01 2008
Jayne d'Arcy

I do agree this was a great film, but I have to disagree with the CGI infected. Although a bit more fluid than what I’ve seen in console games, to me they weren’t realistic and they weren’t scary. The tension was built up well, but when the first infected is seen, I was disappointed. It’s the same feeling I had with the incredibly scary Bogeyman. Great movie until the stupid CGI bogeyman showed up and ruined it all. I do enjoy CGI, but there are times when I’d like to see a real actor element behind the scary guy.

17 01 2008
Mr President

See for me they weren’t supposed to be realistic. In fact if they’d looked real they wouldn’t have been at all frightening because they would have looked like people in makeup. That’s why I’d take CGI over a real actor.

I suppose we have differing expectations. For me these “scary guy” characters should look unreal. It’s the LACK of realism that makes them frightening, almost “otherworldly”, which is the goal.

11 05 2008
I Want To Be Iron Man « Textual Relations

[…] of his mind telling him that given the build-up it could be a massive disappointment. Thankfully the last time he’d had this sense of dread it proved to be unwarranted and so it proved once […]

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