When I Am Legend begins, we’re listening to a sports reporter say that the American League team in New York, of course, is the best and that they will play the Chicago Cubs in the World Series.
So you know right off the bat that this film is a fantasy and you shouldn’t take any of it seriously.
Then Emma Thompson appears on screen playing a doctor who has found a cure for cancer simply by reorganizing the structure of the measles virus.
Cut to three years later and the entire city of New York (and, apparently, the entire planet) has been totally wiped out by this “cure,” except for virologist (and of course he’s a virologist) Robert Neville (Will Smith) and plenty of animals.
Oh, and the zombies.
Lots of rabid zombies — the folks who had been affected by the cure and now only come out at night and are out for blood.
We don’t quite know how Neville managed to be the only one to survive, but somehow over the years he has figured out the zombies’ behavior and has made a life — albeit a lonely, solitary one — for himself.
You try not to be impressed when Neville is driving all over the city, deer are running alongside him, not a single person is in sight, and grass is growing through the pavement. These are awesome sights, even more so than the opening scene of Vanilla Sky.
And just like in Cast Away, there’s not a whole lot of dialogue or music.
But about halfway through, when “the plot” starts to kick in and Neville learns he’s not the only survivor (oops, spoiler alert), and he actually has someone else to talk to, that’s where the movie really starts to come off the rails.
Suddenly the plot holes become more glaring, the dialogue more ridiculous, and the sense of doom is not just limited to Neville but to all moviegoers.
We walked out of the theater with all kinds of laughable questions that I won’t bore you with here. Not that I could really ruin the movie any more than you’d expect it does on its own.
There’s a minor subplot about Neville working his way through all the movies in a video store (he’s midway through the Gs, having just watched Goodfellas). You get the sense that he wouldn’t really enjoy this movie, even with all the escapism that the special effects provide.
I’m giving I Am Legend a C+.