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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Lots of really weird stuff going on underneath the skin of I Am Legend

[Warning: do not read this post if you have not seen I Am Legend yet. Gives away the ending & major story points.]

A beautiful thing about Hollywood craftsmanship is that it can do a pretty good job of hiding several not-very-compatible ideas inside one movie and making it feel almost natural. I just watched almost all of I Am Legend (came in right before the main title, when the Neville character is hunting dear with his car), of course I need to watch the entire movie again, but so far I think the story might have been better if Anna & her son characters were not introduced, and Neville survives his nighttime run in with the vampire creatures at the docks, and then goes on to discover the cure while the vampires are attacking him in the lab, then uses the cure to save the infected New Yorkers and of course everyone else on the planet.

Was it necessary for Smith's character to kill himself when he did? I don't think so. Being an experienced military man who has fought off vampires in the past, he probably could have survived the encounter in the lab, if he chose to.

Also, why did Neville react in such an underwhelmed & confused way when he discovered two other healthy humans? He seemed a little disappointed at all of a sudden not being the last normal human on Earth. Did this disappointment cause him to kill himself in a heroic fashion in order to become special in the eyes of fellow humans? In order to try to once again become very unique, as he though he was before he discovered other healthy humans?

For a while after the Anna & son characters were introduced, I thought the new development in the story was a hallucination that Neville was having during his last moments of life, trapped under the car, being killed by the vampires.

I guess, to mirror the Christian ideas injected into the 3rd act, it was necessary for Neville to die & become the legend & save the world through sacrifice, in Christ fashion. But, like I said before, the movie would have worked better without this obvious & jarring turn into religion.

Also, I didn't believe Neville when he expressed a lack of faith in a better world to Anna. If so, what has kept him going for three years or so against great odds? And why would he buy into such negativity when an almost miraculous thing has occurred - meeting two healthy humans, not to mention the vaccine having some positive effects on test animals.

There are lots more things to think about when it comes to I Am Legend, no doubt, so until I revisit this topic, here is Armond White's review of the movie, which asks some interesting questions. (maybe related: is Armond White the last real film critic on the planet? :) lots of reviewers & critics either have a brief & simple reaction to movies ("bad" or "good") or just add their endorsement to the press material without bringing their own set of ideas to make greater sense out of the success or the failures in a movie, White seems different in some cases - certainly in the case of Legend)

Other than the wrong turn in act 3, I Am Legend was cool. Weird & fun to see Manhattan empty. Looking forward to checking out Legend again & further looking into some weird stuff that I sensed momentarily while watching the movie the first time.

- Sujewa

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