I Am Legend: Retrospective Review

When this came out back in 2007 I remember seeing it with a friend, and we were both in Year 10 at the time and afterwards ended up discussing I Am Legend with fellow Year 10s during lunch such as regarding the social isolation Will Smith’s Robert Neville suffers from being alone for three years, only having a pet dog for company. If a film like this stimulates this kind of discussion among schoolboys, you might have known you’ve created some kind of effect!!

The story as you may be able to tell from above, is set three years after a designed cancer cure goes horribly wrong and infects the world’s majority, turning them into Darkseeker creatures with vampire and cannibalistic qualities. We follow Neville day-to-day as he survives by avoiding the infected and desperately trying to work on a cure. For the first hour I’d say it’s pretty great, which aside from the odd flashback and Darkseeker encounter basically features Will Smith and the dog on their own. For a $150 million blockbuster, that’s pretty cool.

Sadly what I feel like lets down the film somewhat is the Darkseeker CGI. They resemble something more from a Resident Evil videogame than effective creatures including the ones from the 28 Days Later films, although they’re in some fairly intense scenes.  And after the first hour it starts to be something more akin to a typical must-save-the-day thriller, where Alice Braga (playing Anna alongside a son Ethan) mysteriously turns up and insists that he can find a cure and give it to this survivor colony.

Plus, on a side note, before writing this I watched what turned out to be an alternative cut, with added bits here and there and an alternate ending, that works much better than the original. I understand that after test screening and audiences then being mixed on the intended ending, Warner Bros didn’t want to chance risking a $150 million investment and decided to change things, but I still would have infinitely preferred that ending. All the same, in case I sound like I’m complaining too much, I’ll say mostly being more of an introspective drama (Will Smith’s said as much!) makes it quite a solid watch overall. And during this current COVID-19 that plays into everyone worldwide when you think about it, I Am Legend feels quite curious to rewatch.


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