This review will probably turn into an more of an analysis rather than review. I will put the parts of my ‘review’ with spoilers to the storyline in the cut [click ‘more’ to see them] as I feel that if you haven’t seen this movie that some of the things I say will spoil it and that’s the last thing I want to do.
Before I get started, this movie isn’t in Empire magazine’s Top 500. It was on TV and my dad and brother wanted to watch it and I had an opening in my list so I’ve chosen to review this. I think a lot of people have seen this movie but there may be the odd few who were like “hmmm I dunno, I might like it… but…”
I hate horror movies, I get scared soooo easily so I have no idea why I can watch this movie. I guess because the ‘infected’ are just that, infected, is why I can close my eyes and sleep after watching it. I’m scared of zombies and ghosts and stuff because they’re dead, but I guess I’m not so freaked out by the infected because they’re still alive… I can’t describe it at all, sorry. They’re still scary, don’t get me wrong but… I dunno, I can sleep at night. Maybe that’s a bad thing, I don’t know. Anyways, lets get on with the review shall we!
It opens with a news report on the cure for cancer [so we can blame Emma Thompson]. Then we see 3 years into the future and the whole of New York city is abandoned and is slowly turning into an actual jungle [sometimes New York is referred to as the skyscraper jungle]. So, we have the reason why its all abandoned, because Emma Thompson found the ‘cure’ for cancer but buggered it up and now everyone is dead. Or so we think! Anyways, I think that’s a great opening because it gets straight to the point and doesn’t actually say this is the reason but the audience works it out and therefore the audience feels clever.
In strolls Will Smith in a flashy red sports car [like you do] and starts hunting, HOLLYWOOD!Human style! And we see he’s not alone because he has a gorgeous dog called Sam. Anyways, Will Smith is shown as the big action guy but still relatively normal as he doesn’t hit his target [a deer]. I think that’s what makes this so different to other movies, the fact that he may be the ‘hero’ of the movie but he’s far from perfect, especially HOLLYWOOD!Perfect. Anyways, he’s this tough guy who looks like he wouldn’t be scared of anything. Then his watch goes off and you can see the pure terror in his eyes. As an audience, you think “man, if Will Smith is scared of it then we’ve got to be scared of it!” Someone else’s reaction and the sound of the infected’s screams is worse than seeing them. I love this effect because I always believe that hearing is worse than seeing because your imagination runs wild. That’s probably why, in the end, the infected aren’t really that scary.
This movie has flashbacks to what happened before Will Smith was alone. You can tell when the flashbacks start because there’s people in the scenes. I know this sounds dumb but unless you’re going to have the flashbacks in black and white or do some kind of LOST sound, no one is going to know you’re in flashback so to have Will Smith go from on his own to loads of people is a sign that this is a flashback. Then there are other hints that it’s a flashback with all the panic, the quarantine and his family. The flashbacks are in chronological order but are spaced apart, mostly on cliffhangers. The last flashback is the worst, be ready with tissues.
My brother pointed out that Will Smith hardly talks in this movie. Well, I disagree as there is a fair bit more talking in this movie than say Castaway [another ‘on your own’ movie, and a fantastic one at that, please watch it!] but for Will Smith, there is hardly any talking.
We get a sneak peak at the ‘monsters’ outside via infected testing rats as Will Smith tries to find the cure. Its good that they give us glimpses of what the injected look like and why they’re so terrifying to Will Smith. They do look like humans but their skin is thin and an odd colour, they’re bald, they’re skinny… actually, they basically look like cancer patients. However, they don’t move or act like cancer patients. They behave like animals that have been pretty pissed off. Anyways, I think the idea of them is scarier than them themselves. Its not disappointing because you’re still on the edge of your seats when they come close to Will Smith but if you froze your screen on them, you could look at them and even have a baby look at them and they probably wouldn’t cry. I guess there could be an argument that that’s what makes them terrifying; that they look us. Well, they were us but you know what I mean.
Although Will Smith looks very together and in control, we see that he is mentally unstable. He talks to the mannequins and even develops a crush on one of them. It is relatable though and leaves you thinking about how you would cope without human contact for 3 years. Yeah, I’m pretty sure you’d be talking to mannequins too. Also, Will Smith rents movies in this movie! He’s making his way through all the films in the rental shop. That made me happy.
Its sad when you see the family homes that Will Smith goes into for supplies. The homes are filled with supplies that hint the family were about to escape but clearly never made it. They have Christmas decorations [as does New York city, actually, in case you miss it] up so it shows that the infection lost control during the Holiday season, adding more fuel to the already-sad fire. Then, we see a note on a door saying ‘Merry Christmas’ to their daughter and in the room are two cribs, showing that there was already a child in the family and that two were on the way. Its just twisting the knife and its all done by scenery. Its just fantastic that they can create so many emotions and such sadness with a set.
Will Smith sends out a radio transmission, hoping for survivors. He goes to the harbor every noon and waits. This message is repeated and we realize that he does actually do this every single day. Every day he hopes for other survivors. Its all about creating his isolation and I really, really, REALLY felt for him and I got a very strong connection with the character.
There is a very long scene which was done brilliantly well. Sam, the dog, goes into a building and suddenly Will Smith is totally scared; the infected are in the buildings, out of sunlight. There’s no music. Just Will Smith’s panic breathing. He makes his way through the darkness. He’s scared and therefore we’re scared too. it’s a lot of walking through the dark and seeing blood. It sounds lame but its done so well that we’re on the edges of our seats, praying he doesn’t get heard or see any of the infected. Heart-pumping stuff!
Will Smith is immune to virus that has killed so many and left others deadly infected. What makes him so special? We never know.
Now. There is a little thing that I didn’t like. Will Smith captures one of the infected to do tests on. Suddenly, out of the building, comes an infected person. He does a bit of screaming, his face burns and he goes back into the building. Will Smith later reports that this is a sign that they are ignoring their basic human survival instinct and are now totally un-human. I disagreed from the start. I saw it as the infected had a relationship with the infected that was taken, whether it be wife or sister, we don’t know. But he shows signs of humanity and caring for another so much that he puts his life at risk. It is revealed in alternative ending that my theory is true and that he does show signs of humanity as he just wants his loved one back [I’d Google the alternative ending, if I were you, its so much better than the final ending]. Another hint that they’re still humanly intelligent is when they use Will Smith’s kidnapping techniques on him. Will Smith sees the mannequin has moved and therefore he questions his sanity and whether the mannequin is a real person, then he realizes that the infected have moved him and therefore they’re around there somewhere.
The infected dogs are worse than the infected humans. Scary dogs! Very bad dogs. Even worse because they bite poor Samantha which leads us to the most heartbreaking scene ever and also the most heart-breaking single take.
Will Smith’s acting is amazing in this movie. Like I said before, I felt a total connection to the character and therefore cared so much about him. When the character finally cracks after the dog’s death and begs the mannequin to talk to him is some of the best acting I’ve ever seen him do.
There is an unfortunate religious side to the story but I guess its needed to counterbalance the science of the movie [*rolls eyes*]. Sorry, I’m a science girl, I don’t believe in this God stuff. By the end of the movie, Will Smith doesn’t believe in God either. Why would God let billions of people die, thousands of people living like animals and the small 1% of the population go mad with loneliness? However, his faith is restored in the ending and all is well and hurrah. I’m sorry, I just prefer the alternative ending so much more, where he makes peace with the alpha male and gives him back the kidnapped loved one. My brother loves this ending because he says that it means Will Smith will be close to and as famous as God because he’s helped humanity relive. I can see that but alas, I’m not a believer in God so… it does nothing for me.
The film is based on a book and I read that in the book, “I Am Legend” is because the book’s character is a legend among the infected as being their killer, whereas in the film he’s a legend because he found the cure and kept humanity going. Am I a bad person for wishing that they’d gone with the “I Am Legend” reason from the book rather than saving humanity?
Wow… sorry about that, I think I rambelled on a bit there. Feel free to comment on your own views or to tell me to stick to short reviews!
Also… actually, I think I don’t find the infected that scary because I’ve seen worse in my hometown. You Hastings people know what I’m talking about, lmao.