I went to see Will Smith’s latest film I Am Legend yesterday with my brother-in-law Sean. I was expecting a bit of an action film and not have to think too much, but I was pleasantly surprised. It a rollicking good story with fantastic special effects – although obviously not as good as Beowulf which Hannah and I saw in glorious 3D on my birthday (December 22nd for those that missed it…)
I Am Legend is based on a 1950s novel of the same name and has already been made into a film twice. The latest iteration before the current one was entitled The Omega Man and starred Charlton Heston. Although I haven’t seen it, there’s no way that The Omega Man can have spoken quite so convincingly to the current generation as I Am Legend. As well as the obvious elements of apocalyptic science fiction there is an ongoing commentary about the nature of the family, community and – most interestingly for me – to what extent (as Aristotle said) man is a ‘social animal’.
I’m not going to give away the plot here, suffice to say that a cure for cancer goes wrong and the character played by Will Smith finds himself seemingly the last human alive on Manhattan Island. He survives, with his Alsation named Sam, by night whilst the humans mutated by the virus (the ‘dark-seekers’) attack his residence. Will Smith’s performance is amazing. There’s a part in which, for a very good reason, his character begins to come close to a psychological precipice. The way in which Will Smith conveys this heart-rending; I found myself almost crying at one point.
The film is punctuated by long periods of quiet where Will Smith’s character is by himself or with his dog. Then there’s sections of violence and the types of screams I’ve only previously heard by the orcs in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Coupled with flashbacks of the confusion surrounding the human exodus from Manhattan Island in 2012 this makes for a very well put-together film.
If there’s one film you should see this holiday period it’s I Am Legend. Yes, Beowulf has the effects, but I Am Legend doesn’t exactly stint on them and provides an engrossing storyline whilst commenting on the fears, aspirations and concerns of our global society. Highly recommended.