Courtney here. I just have to tell you about this movie we watched the other night. I Am Legend arrived from Netflix via our mailbox several weeks ago. Okay, probably sometime in early July when things were too insane for both of us to sit down and watch a movie together. Let me say this for the record: Joe chose this movie. I had heard of it, but knew next to nothing about it before the other night. Just that it was post-apocalyptic or whatever and had the almost always odious Will Smith starring. But I love my husband, so we waited all this time and finally sat down to watch it. Now all I can say is: Joe, why did you make me watch this movie?!?
Joe here. First off, I didn’t MAKE you watch this movie. In fact, I offered to send it back since we’d had it so long without watching it. There’s something in myself that I find myself having to fight off on occasions like this. The movie had been in our house for weeks. The shiny newness of it had worn off, and I wasn’t as enthused about watching it. Why? I think I’ve been brainwashed by a consumer culture to only want the freshest, most cutting edge “thing”, be it a movie, CD, or video game. I can choose to avoid the seduction of the shiny, and I did. But I digress.
I too knew little about this movie, other than what Courtney stated above, and that geeks (a term I use with subdued affection) everywhere were complaining about how the computer generated “creatures” were too fake looking. With that in mind, and having never read the book, I wasn’t sure what this was all about and thought we’d give it a spin and form our own opinions. After all Will Smith has been trying so hard to be a serious actor for years now… So Courtney, what were your overall impressions of the film? (Or at least the parts you watched)
So, as Joe alludes, I did not in fact watch the entire movie. That’s because we started watching it and about 20 minutes into the thing I started to become profoundly uncomfortable. And by 45 minutes runtime I turned to Joe, asked him to pause the film, and told him I was quitting. For the first time in Movie Project history.
The basic premise, so you won’t be blindsided like I was, is this: a doctor (played by the unparalleled Emma Thompson) interviews on a morning show program that a controlled version of the smallpox virus has been found to completely cure cancer in clinical studies. So she has cured cancer. Then the words: THREE YEARS LATER appears at the bottom of the screen depicting a desolate scene. Will Smith is the only man living in New York City, and everything is a wreck. Plants are growing in the streets and animals are roaming free, but no other people are visible. Just Will Smith and his dog, hunting deer and seeming concerned about getting home before dark. In flashback scenes you see that Will Smith is some incredible virologist, and he was working on a vaccine to fix what the “cancer cure” had begotten…which is crazy mutation and an outbreak. Will Smith has to evacuate his wife and daughter out of NYC before it is sealed off from the world, but he won’t leave because, in his words, “This is Ground Zero”; meaning, this is where he must continue his work for a cure because it started here.
I know it’s nuts, but in the first 2 minutes I was disenchanted because, seriously? How could Emma Thompson ever be responsible for the destruction of mankind?!?
It’s true, Emma Thompson has got to be my favorite actress these days, and as such could not be responsible for the destruction of mankind. But that’s beside the point, Will Smith’s character has clearly been surviving just fine, but is struggling to deal with his isolation which, after over 3 years, is starting to get to him. With his trusty canine companion at his side he maintains the facade of normal life by creating false social situations to keep his mind from the truth of his horrific reality. In his dreams he is haunted by flashbacks of his last moments among his family. If anything, these were the parts that really got to me. The responsibility for the safety of his family and his obligation of duty really made me reflect on my own life. But to take a step back, I have to imagine the first 15 minutes of the “present day” seemed to me to be pretty clearly geared toward guys. I mean, I’m not a hunter but there is something very primal about driving a Shelby GT500 through the ravaged streets of New York at top speed with one hand and firing a high-powered rifle out the window to “hunt” with the other.
And here I thought you weren’t a typical dude. Okay, you aren’t, and I know that because you actually had to Google to find out what the make and model of that car was. But that sounded like you were.
Anyway, I don’t know how much I want to say? Would saying more give too much away?
Probably, and we’d snark back and forth for hours, so let’s spare the nice people and skip to the opinion part, shall we? Overall, I found the movie pretty simple and predictable, but still engaging on an emotional level. It was more than just adrenaline too, Will Smith did manage to capture some sympathy for the character and the beginning and middle of the movie, but as others critics (nerds) have suggested, I found the ending too easy and would have liked to seen something deeper. I think I should probably just read the book. Court?
I’m sorry, but that dude is always gonna be The Fresh Prince to me. “Now this is a story all about how my life got flipped, turned upsidedown…” Oh, the movie? Well, I only watched half of it because it was awful. It was horribly gut-wrenching and I didn’t think it needed to be. I cannot recommend it. Do you like dogs? People? Life? Emma Thompson? Don’t watch this movie!