Movie Review: I Am Legend


I spent my Christmas evening watching one of the season’s blockbuster hits, “I Am Legend” starring Will Smith. I came to the film with few expectations, and I am glad. It certainly did not exceed them. I suppose the strengths of this film are supposed to be its main actor, Will Smith, and the special effects that are designed to provide a few scares. Will Smith delivers, though I find it somewhat boring to have no other main characters in this story other than him and a German Shepherd. But if this film intended to be scary, it fails on every count. One of my other friends found herself scared at every turn, so maybe I’m wrong. But I found myself unmoved or laughing at most of the attempts to scare me.

The reason: I felt removed from this film from the very beginning. I could not inhabit it, and therefore I did not believe it. The story line about a disease that destroys New York City and quarantines the city is outrageously unbelieveable. Other films such as last year’s “Children of Men” pull this off in a believeable way. But “I am Legend” makes no attempt to convince. The script itself is confusing, and the writer gives the viewer little background to understand what has happened until about half way through the film. The film weaves past and present in a way that seems like a feeble attempt to be artistic but ends up being only confusing.

Perhaps I just had too much turkey on Christmas, but I did not understand exactly what the viral researcher played by Smith was actually doing until the last few scenes. Because the film does not develop the character of him or his family in a way that I cared that much for him (I cared more about the dog), I then had difficulty believing he was the savior of all humanity at the end.

The film does have a well written dialogue about belief in God in the face of disease, and a strong Christ Figure theme that is fitting for the Christmas holiday (man sacrifices his life to provide blood that will save humanity from its disease), and Will Smith does deliver a very impressive monologue about the work of musician and writer Bob Marley. When asked why he performed at a peace rally two days after he was shot a war supporter, Bob Marley said in paraphrase, “Evil people do not take a day off spreading their darkness, and so I can’t take a day off spreading the light.” The movie’s credits then scroll to this this powerful song by Marley, “Redemption Song”.

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our mind.
Wo! Have no fear for atomic energy,
‘Cause none of them-a can-a stop-a the time.
How long shall they kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look?
Yes, some say it’s just a part of it:
We’ve got to fullfil the book.
Won’t you have to sing
This songs of freedom? –
‘Cause all I ever had:
Redemption songs –
All I ever had:
Redemption songs:
These songs of freedom,
Songs of freedom

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