18
Dec
08

You are legend? Really?

Oook this one has been brewing for a while. The recent (third!) adaptation of Richard Matheson’s classic book I Am Legend came out last year starring Will Smith. I was absolutely amazed at the reviews and reception that this movie got. Gear up kiddies, it’s time for a film review.

Let’s start with the positive. Like everyone else did, I thought that the shots of an empty New York city were cool. I even thought the initial concept behind the way the disease was released was a pretty cool science fiction idea. Some of the scares were quite well handled. Will Smith did a good job as the somewhat tortured protagonist…. yeah this is a short paragraph.

The negatives begin with the monsters themselves. For some stupid reason, they decided to CG all of the vampires/zombies/infecteds. I don’t know how people can bitch about how King Kong looked in Peter Jackson’s Kong, or how every human looked in the recent Beowulf movie, and NOT complain about the monsters in this movie. It makes sense to CG a gigantic fucking ape. People with pointy teeth and blood on ’em? We can find those! They looked awful. Fans of the movie can’t even defend that. If they just used the 28 Days Later approach and threw some weird eyes and makeup around, it would have worked much better. 

I’ll skip over the poorly handled psychological deterioration of Will Smith’s character and jump to the ending. Wow. Okay, first a little background info. The original story by Matheson, although it was about vampires, created the zombie genre as we know it. It’s what made Romero make Night of the Living Dead. It’s extremely influential. I won’t spoil the ending, but much like many other science fiction and horror short stories, the ending has a surprise that is absolutely key. In fact, the fucking TITLE doesn’t even make sense without it.

This current adaptation completely did away with the ending and put in a heroic ending where Neville dies valiantly and takes an army of the monsters with him. Again, I have no idea why people weren’t upset by this. I want you to realize that this isn’t your usual fanboy accuracy bitching. This is on the level with changing the ending of War of the Worlds so that the aliens are stopped by Godzilla. It’s like changing the ending to Lord of the Rings so that the one ring is stolen at the last second by the elves, who promise to use it for good. Or changing Beowulf so that he sleeps with Grendel’s mother and then… oh wait, those fuckers did that. Seriously though, in terms of classic influential genre fiction, I Am Legend is up there and I’m surprised more weren’t outraged by this.

I don’t get to really do the usual “remakes suck” dance though. The other two adaptations of I Am Legend weren’t exactly spot on either. They both have some strengths and weaknesses, but they’re both horrendously dated and cheesy now. I don’t really get to point to a better version this time, other than the original story. I like to end these blog posts with some sort of positive recommendation…

So go read it.

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