The last man on earth is not alone warns the quite contradictive tagline of Will Smith's latest world-saving epic. A modern retelling based on a Richard Matheson novel Smith is left in what seemingly is an empty New York City. We find out how and why this has come to be partially throughout the movie through the medium of Smith's inner flashbacks. However, it's not much more than I had already cottened on to through various trailers that as usual feel the need to overfeed us with enough information to more or less help us jigsaw piece through 75% of plotline without the need to ever buy the popcorn, get sticky shoes or tell the twat in row F to shut his fucking phone off!
The opening third of the movie is refreshingly devoid of pointless plot-moving dialogue and is merely an insight into Smith's character's day to day life in his society-less utopia. Accompanied by his loyal dog the two roam the streets of an abandoned New York City through blocks of passenger less cars and overgrown greenery hunting for food. Yet when the sun goes down these two lonely figures sharply head home and lockdown their house for the disturbing congregation of virus-filled vampiric ex-humans.
Yes folks, it's yet another virus laden end of the world, end of mankind, end of humanity type yarn. It's the classic story - girl creates virus, boy meets virus, boy is immune to virus, boy tries to cure virus, boy ends up flirting with mannequins...it's a classic tale.
Smith vehicles the movie well. He's practically on his own for most part of the flick and I can't honestly say I sat there thinking..'jeez, im sick of the sight of that guy'. With a theme like this played out for big budget thrills and shocks it's a little hard for Smith to showcase his higher brow actiing abilities. However, he still manages to pull off an interesting mix of action hero, humour and ultimatley as a lonely guy, missing his family and slowly losing his mind.
For most parts it begins to become apparent that during the daylight scenes there's going to be little to be scared of, for Smith and of course the audience. So when darkness approaches the horror can truly begin. Unfortunately apart from some very loud sound effects when you least expect it, mostly due to the fact that I was literally sitting on the surround-sound with booming shock noises blowing through my entire body, there isn't much to be scared of.
So is it just me or is the use of CGI in horror becoming a little a). unexciting 2). repetitive and d). so totally not scary that even young children wouldn't be affected by it's underwhelming usage these days. I truly understand why there's the use and a lot of the time CGI is the most useful tool in movies that's ever been seen. But it has to be used in the right places at the right time and for the right reasons. And I didn't truly feel this was that time. 28 Weeks Later (another 2007 virus-related horror outing) didn't rely on this when it came to the 'infected', instead they used actors in make-up, just like in the good old days. And there's nothing scarier than a natural actor in make-up leaping about and coming right at ya. Just look at Neil Marshall's 2005 UK chiller The Descent. Bat-like creatures crawling around in the dark. Guys in make-up. Absolutely terrifying.
I Am Legend is an epic retelling. There are some astounding location shots of the empty streets of New York. Some interesting insights into the mind of the 'last man'. There's some humour, some shocks, some thrills, some fucking loud noises and some tense moments. Not least when Smith's character apprehensvely enters the opponents layer. With the vast agrophobic shots of New York and the lack of music and dialogue I Am Legend does give you a sense of almost being there and involved and for the first half of the movie you are drawn into the story. Unfortunately the story slips away a little and the the less than satisfying ending that concludes too abruptly just adds to that feeling of slight disappointment from all the expectations. Still, it's a half decent time killer.