Tall weeds, not fanny packs, clog Times Square in I Am Legend. And the problem with that is…? For all the film’s computerized effects rendering its virus-ridden Manhattan quiet as a tomb, the benefits are barely considered. Rents are remarkably low, for example. In his sunny, three-floor condo, the immune Robert Neville (Smith) flaunts a framed Starry Night, most likely by Vince himself. Traffic is nonexistent. And Will Smith, the kind of actor who needs a pet German shepherd sniffing at his ankles like Tom Hanks needed a volleyball in Cast Away, fills the air with chat. At night, diseased mutants come out to play. That much hasn’t changed.
Richard Matheson’s eerie 1954 novel has already inspired two ridiculous affairs (Vincent Price in The Last Man on Earth, Charlton Heston in The Omega Man) and, obliquely, the brilliant career of zombie maestro George Romero. This new buffed-up version won’t be righting any wrongs. The script seizes on Matheson’s messianic strain, his weakest element, resulting in a doomy mysticism not unlike last winter’s overrated Children of Men. And the root of all evil? A smug scientist played by Emma Thompson. Pandora opens the box; this is the kind of movie in which an action hero has to slam it shut.
Cast and crew