'I Am Legend (Widescreen 2-Disc Special Edition)'
(Will Smith, Alice Braga, Charlie Tahan, et al / 2-Disc DVD / PG-13 / 2008 / Warner Bros.)
Overview: Will Smith stars in the third adaptation of Richard Matheson’s classic science-fiction novel about a lone human survivor in a post-apocalyptic world dominated by vampires. This new version somewhat alters Matheson’s central hook, i.e., the startling idea that an ordinary man, Robert Neville, spends his days roaming a desolated city and his nights in a house sealed off from longtime neighbors who have become bloodsucking fiends. In the new film, Smith’s Neville is a military scientist charged with finding a cure for a virus that turns people into crazed, hairless, flesh-eating zombies. Failing to complete his work in time--and after enduring a personal tragedy--Neville finds himself alone in Manhattan, his natural immunity to the virus keeping him alive.
DVD Verdict: I read Matheson's "I am Legend" just a few years ago and I loved it. I had read "Hell House" and I was just so amazed at the wide scope he could take in the horror genre.
When I heard they were making or re-making "I am Legend" I was really excited. When I read that they were having it take place in New York I become a little suspicious as the book takes place in L.A. What other changes would they make to the original story?
Well it turns out the New York setting worked quite well. Seeing Will Smith hunting deer on Broadway or driving down the empty streets of America's most populated city had a great dramatic effect.
Much of the original book was changed however, some for better and some for the worse. Most notably was the ending.
As other friends of mine have pointed out, the first half of the film is just so powerful, packed with the shock of seeing what the world has become after this vampire virus spreads as well as the emotional plot turns.
The second half of the film seemed somewhat rushed to me. Now I have no way of knowing in what order they shot the scenes but I felt that maybe the writing could have been better for the second half of the film. For instance, and this may be a slight spoiler, the scene at the pier at night, I thought it would have worked perfectly if they had stuck more to the book and had the "civilized" vampires rescue him from the other vampires like in the book instead of how they did it in the movie. But that's another part of the book they left out entirely; the different classes of vampires that sprang up. Yes I know that Matheson never actually calls them vampires but we all know that's what they are.
Overall, this is a good film and I intend to actually buy it when it comes out on DVD. There are few apocalyptic stories that I think pull it off and this is one of them. The visual effects for the transformed New York are stunning though the vampire creatures could have been better.
Will Smith proves in this film that he's not just an actor who is suited for comedy or light drama. His role in this is somewhat similar to "I, Robot" though so much of the film depends on him and he pulls it off quite well. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2:35.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Special Edition Alternate Version
4 minutes of additional length
A Collection of four six-minute animated comics: "Death as a Gift," "Isolation," "Sacrificing the Few for the Many," and "Shelter"