Sunday, December 23, 2007

I am Legend (2007, Francis Lawrence)

I went into this one with low expectations. The mediocre word of mouth mixed in with a lot of negative reviews made me expect something that would live up to the general feeling towards the film. Out of everyone I know, both in real life and the Internet, only one person (my friend Greg at Sex,Drugs, and Cinema) praised the film and during his appraisal of the film told me that it was "one of the best things Hollywood has done in a long time", and you know what? I agree with him 100 percent.

I may get some backlash because I actually really enjoyed the film but I just don't see the oh-so-horrible movie that people have been making it out to be. Maybe it was because I had such low expectations while watching it but I doubt this was it. I chose to look at the film as a genre film and as a genre film it is pretty great.

What the film has that makes it far better than it maybe should be is the stellar performance by Will Smith. He wont be winning any awards for this performance anytime soon but even if the film might not call for a stellar performance, he still gives it his all. He really sells the film and for the hour or so where he is basically just by himself in an abandoned New York with his dog, the film is it as best. I even think that the film is so good with just Smith by himself defending himself against his own sanity and the vampirish mutants that when the film goes into it's last act it loses a lot of its appeal.

The last act is really the only problem I had with the film. Sure, the CGI effects are pretty shitty for a film with such a huge budget but I did not mind the effects at all. I grew up watching schlocky B movies from the 50s and bad effects in movies have never and will never bother me, no matter what the budget is. So, looking past the effects the only problem I have, like I said before, is the last act.

I don't know what exactly it is but I just feel that the last act feels so off compared to the rest of the film. Maybe its because I really love the aspect of being the last man or earth or maybe it's because I like how the film refused to go into CGI heavy action scenes and relied strictly on atmosphere and Smith's performance to create tension. I just don't know but I feel that its because of the later. I just felt that the sudden rush of a 15 minute action film was unneeded in a film that was already perfect without having any explosions and Smith running around with a gun. It was still fun to watch, though.

I am Legend is a fun genre film that is made into a great fun genre film due to the stellar acting by Smith and first 2/3rds of the film. I am surprised that Hollywood let the director make such an intimate film for the most part. I just wish it could have kept on going in the same tone because it then would have become more than just a genre film. Still though, for a genre film it is tons of fun if you are able to buy into it and I did just that and enjoyed myself for an hour and 40 minutes.

In an year that gave us a lot of shitty big budget films, I am Legend is one of the better ones in recent memory.

- ***

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