Directed by: Francis Lawrence

Written by: Mark Protosevich & Akiva Goldsman

Starring: Will Smith, Alice Braga, Dash Mihok

Rating: [3.5/5]

Hard-fought dreams and goals never become easy to abandon because of the mental willpower necessary to drop something with so much meaning. This gets supremely difficult in the story followed in I Am Legend as it seeks to show its protagonist’s journey but also the deep-rooted fears that come with complete isolation. Heartbreaking but still riveting, this feature serves as one of the many times Will Smith has proven he can completely carry a film. 

Years after the spread of a virus that killed most of the Earth’s population and turned many of the survivors into bloodthirsty zombies, Dr. Robert Neville (Will Smith) remains the last remaining person in New York City along with his dog. As he goes about each day trying to find some level of normalcy, he also has not given up on his quest to find a cure to this treacherous virus, which he began right at the beginning of it all. 

Outside of the zombies, I Am Legend serves as a horror film simply by exploring how Robert has no other person to interact with. He spends his days watching recorded segments of news as if it were live, scavenging for food, and getting back before nightfall, which is when the zombies come out to look for food and feed. It gets to the point where Robert begins talking to mannequins he seemingly has placed in locations like the movie rental store. As a side note, I commend him for taking the opportunity to watch every film in the store in alphabetical order. It very much matches what I’m doing on my site with my reviews. The interactions he has with these mannequins do have this level of strangeness, but in all reality, it marks a yearning to connect with someone seeing as the only living thing in his vicinity not actively trying to eat him is his canine. This sense of loneliness plays an integral part in his development, but also this stubbornness he has in refusing to leave New York and look for other survivors. A stubbornness that translates to a defeatist attitude, which no one can blame him for as he assumes the rest of the population of the world has been eradicated. 

As with any zombie feature, the look and function of the zombies make a large impact on the story. The zombies can be slow and dumb like in The Walking Dead or quick and dangerously smart like in Army of the Dead. This feature opts for quicker zombies, with smarter dispositions, but also cannot withstand the UV from the sun, thus making them nocturnal beings. It makes the idea of evading much simpler by just avoiding the dark, but one particular sequence shows the devastating nature of how this danger can appear even with the sunlight all around. With this particular approach to the zombies, they have this computer-generated look that certainly does not look good by any stretch of the imagination. It makes sense why the filmmakers would go this route but the execution of it leaves plenty to be desired. The era of its creation cannot serve as an excuse either seeing as this got made in this very century and the option for more practical zombies could have been possible. 

Searching for the cure becomes the main objective of Robert’s survival and along with his relationship with his dog, remains the only thing keeping him alive. Seeing his trials and the way he captures specific zombies in order to use them in clinical trials shows what it takes to find a cure to something so negatively dangerous. His general immunity becomes key to where the story eventually goes, but it certainly shows a level of resolve in this man, which should be appreciated while also serving as a reminder of the brilliance of Will Smith. 

On several occasions throughout his career, Will Smith has been asked to take a film, put it on his shoulders, and drag it to success. Considering he’s the main actor in a story about him being potentially the last living man on Earth, it’s safe to say he needed to bring everything he had to keep the story engaging. Unsurprisingly, he delivers in a huge way as he brings his famous level of charm from speaking to his dog and then the mannequins as well. He bears it all on his shoulders and does what he does best. A top-tier performance in his career and one of my personal favorites of his. 

In the end, it all becomes about perseverance in I Am Legend and the film successfully takes on this particular journey with Robert. It certainly comes with its issues and heartbreaking moments, but it becomes part of the experience this film seeks to communicate with the audience. New York remains ground zero for Robert in his quest to find this cure and he has no problem giving his life for it in the process. Even with no one else but the zombies to save, it’s his purpose, his dream, his ultimate goal, and one he will not abandon lightly.

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