I love movies. Anyone who knows me, knows that. However, I'm not a big fan of dropping a Hamilton to watch a flick only once. Especially, if you're taking a date. That's $20+ (with outhe popcorn and drinks)!! For one showing!! You might as well just wait for it to come out on DVD and you can buy it for $20 and watch it as much as you want. Even if the movie sucks, you'd be getting more than your money's worth if you just wait. So thank God for the emergence of sites that (illegally) show movies and tv shows like TvLinks and now watchtvsitcoms.com. Since I've been camping on these sites, watching every new film on my computer, rarely has a movie come out (or a girl that I've met) that made want to drop the bills in order to watch it in the theater..that is until I've seen the trailers for Will Smith's new flick, I Am Legend. Hell, that's a movie that I'll watch alone in the theater if i have to.
Before I get into my critique on the movie, let's rewind several months ago when I was sitting in the theater, waiting for Transformers to start. The lights dim and the previews start and the first preview on the menu, some new Will Smith flick. This preview was the short one showing Will Smith's character driving through a deserted Times Square in a pimped out Mustang intercut between him working out, hunting a deer, and harvesting some corn. Curiousity engulfed me, as probobaly did the rest of the audience, as I immedietely began running all sorts of scenarios in my head as to what the hell happened to all the people: virus? Tsunami? Meteor? Alien invasion? Then the trailor ends with him in a completely darkened room, his position indicated by a lone flashlight attached to his rifle, and the subtitles "The last man on earth...is not alone." Cut to a close up of a terrified Will Smith as he's slowly turning around to confront a sickening, monstrous sound coming from behind him. BAM! The clip cuts, the screen turns black, and the title fades in, "I Am Legend". http://youtube.com/watch?v=hX773fMkS90
Holy crap! I just about jizzed my pants right there and completely forgot (and stopped caring) what movie I was there to see (which, with the exception of Shia La Boeuf's great acting and Megan Fox's hotness, Transformers was utlimately a two and a half hour toy commercial).
I immedietely put I Am Legend on the top of my "movies to watch" list and even decided that no matter what, I am going to watch it in the theater.
If you haven't seen the movie (or read the book) yet, you might want to stop reading now because there's going to be some spoilers in the following paragraphs.
December 14 couldn't come any slower as I began reading about the novel version of I Am Legend and regretting that I've never read it before. I'm a sucker for stories involving apocolyptic chaos but apocolytic chaos with zombified vampires?! Where do I sign up?!
In a nutshell, the book follows Robert Neville (I can't recall if he's a doctor in the novel) who is the sole survivor of a world wide virus with vampire-like symptoms (ie. they can't handle the sunlight thus are forced to roam the streets during the night). However, they become zombie-like in that their minds de-evolutionize resulting in these irrational, light-sensitive, flesh eating beings who attack anything human, spreading their virus through the air and through flesh wound. They're not the dashing Brad Pitt/Tom Cruise vampires via Interview with a Vampire.
Like the movie, Neville barricades himself in his house only to go out during the day to get food and to methodically go from building to building, killing any vampire he finds (they slip into a deep coma during the day). He devotes every extra moment into backtracking the origin of the virus and finding out why (or in the movie's case, a cure) he is the only one immune. So I'd say that, up until then, the book is very Robinson Crusoe-esque in that the main threat (or fear if you want to call it that) comes from himself as he struggles with lonlieness and despair.
In the book, Neville is captured by said vampires and in a huge and final confrontation, he realizes that there is an underground group that managed to halt the full progression of the virus via serum (they're only sensitive to light). He finds out that they have created a fully functional civilization and that he is their number one nemisis (as he kills their "kind" in their sleep) and it is he who is the mytholgical creature. He is the one who is feared. He is their legend. Thus the title of the book: I Am Legend.
How crazy is that?! That's brilliant!! Here he is, trying to survive, thinking he's doing mankind good by killing off the vampires and finding a cure, meanwhile there's a group of "people" who've contained it, made a civilization and ultimately accepted their mutated state, thus making Neville the bad guy all along. Neville, to them, is in essence George Bush trying to singly impose his once "normal" beliefs in an environment that doesn't exist under those terms anymore. What a mind blowing ending!
This is where the movie get's disappointing...
So as my friend Toka and I (Toka also read the book) were sitting in the theater and we're watching as the vampires ravaged Neville's home after following him there, we began to grow excited as we felt "This is it. The big confrontation is coming up where they capture him and reveal their huge underground civilization where the vampires shutter at the mythological legend that is Robert Neville". But then all of a sudden, just after Will Smith gives the cure to the other survivor, he grabs a grenade and runs into the group of vampires killing them all and killing himself. She then takes the cure to an Army outpost in Virginia that contains other survivors and Robert Neville becomes a legend because he's the one that found the cure. Nooo!
Where's the confrontation?! Where's the underground society?! I excpected at least a huge fight between Will Smith and the main vampire guy who was obviously the boyfriend of the vampire chick who he kidnapped. But nothing! The movie was perfect (more or less) up until that point!
I walked out of the movie theater in complete awe of that cocktease of a movie. I had the condom out and ready to go...and nothing (metaphorically speaking). It's like going to watch Titanic, waiting for it to hit the iceberg, then all of sudden it docks in New York, everyone gets off the ship and the credits roll. Sure everyone's happy at the end but come on! You can't take out the amazing mind blowing twist at the end!
I truly didn't understand the decision to change this ending. The book usually is always better than the movie only because due to time constraints a lot of back story, character development and other details have to be left out but this is ridiculous. I would've given it a 5 out of 5 up until the last fifteen minutes of the movie. But now:
(and that's only because Will Smith is such an amazing actor.)