I Am Legend DVD Review
Written by James "Spez" Ferguson
DVD released by Warner Home Video
Directed by Francis Lawrence
Written by Mark Protosevich and Akiva Goldsman
2007, Region 1, 101 Minutes, Rated PG-13
DVD released on March 18th, 2008
Will Smith as Robert Neville
Alice Braga as Anna
Charlie Tahan as Ethan
Salli Richardson-Whitfield as Zoe Neville
It's a story that has been time and time again, but it's a good one: The last man on Earth. We've seen it in movies and books for years. It's just plain interesting. If you were the last person on the planet, what would you do? How would you occupy your time with no human beings to talk to or interact with? How long would it take you to lose your mind?
In the case of Robert Neville (Will Smith), the answer to that last question is about three years. In a slight twist on the tale that harkens back to the original book written by Richard Matheson, Neville was an army scientist involved in the early stages of the disease that eventually kills everyone but him. For some reason he's immune. The disease started out as a cure for cancer, but it had some drastic side effects. Neville's team stepped in to try to fix it but they were too late. The island of Manhattan is cut off from the rest of the world and he stays behind to try to put a stop to this epidemic. The virus is airborne and can also be transmitted through the blood.
Not everyone dies from this, though. Many of them turn into vampire-like beings that burn in the sunlight and feast on human flesh (which is in short supply, so they're all very hungry). None of them fly or turn into bats, though. Nor do they sleep in coffins as far as I can tell. Neville does his best to avoid the infected by only going out during the daytime and sealing himself in his fortified home / lab at night. Yes, he has a fully functioning lab in the basement of his New York City townhouse. Doesn't everybody?
In most films, actors can play off of one another and improve their performance based on the response he gets from his or her co-star. In the case of I Am Legend, Will Smith's main co-star is a dog. It speaks to how good of an actor Smith can be if he's not out there spouting "Aw Hell Naw!" and dodging explosions (no offense, Mr. Michael Bay). Smith's portrayal of Robert Neville is layered. When we first encounter him, he's a well-organized military man. He keeps to a schedule. He has everything under control. Then we get deeper and find all the cracks that have built up in his foundation. He's talking to mannequins. He's memorized every line from the movie Shrek. And when he finally encounters other non-infected people, he almost doesn't know what to do. To make matters worse, he's still in mourning over the loss of his wife and daughter. Add that all together and you've got one complex character. That's important because the entire movie rides on Smith's shoulders.
While Smith's acting is superb, the CGI used in I Am Legend is not. Every member of the infected is entirely computer generated. I don't know if they used that Avatar-like motion capture or if they just drew everybody in, but it doesn't look good. It looks really fake. This movie was made just a few years ago so there's no excuse for a big name like Warner Brothers to skimp on the CG budget. It's sloppy and rather distracting. I expected there to be at least a few actual people with make up running around, especially for the major roles.
In the end, I Am Legend is just another chapter in this never-ending tale of the last man on the planet. It goes down in the history books along with The Omega Man and Y: The Last Man. It's a slightly different take on it, but it's a story we've heard before. It's just that it's an entertaining one and I Am Legend is no different.
Video and Audio:
This DVD release is presented in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio. For a standard def release, the picture quality is quite good (aside from the aforementioned CGI). I didn't notice any blurring during the action scenes, either.
- 4 Awesome Animated Comics: Death as a Gift, Isolation, Sacrificing The Few for the Many and Shelter
- DVD-ROM PC Weblink to Intense Bonus Material Databank Chronicling the Movie's Creation and Exploring the History and Current Status of Life-Threatening Viral Infections
The features on this release are pretty slim. They must have saved the good stuff for the Two-Disc and Blu Ray editions. There are four "Awesome Animated Comics" included here, but none of them are really worth viewing. They don't add anything to the story and it's a stretch to call them awesome or animated. There's also some DVD-ROM data links or something. Does anyone actually use those?
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