Stories with a post-apocalyptic setting, regardless of whatever sub-genre they are, are easily among the most common genres to be adapted to live-action. From Stephen King’s The Stand to Max Brooks’ World War Z, they come in all qualities and styles. An interesting example of the many adapted post-apocalyptic books is I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, which features one of the most bizarre fictional worlds of at least the genre in particular.
The adaptation of Francis Lawrence perhaps makes yet another case of the adaptation not being as great as the source material, especially due to deviating from it to an extent, but the film is in no way without any aspects of appreciation. It may succumb frequently to the formulas of commercial storytelling, but considering the impact of the source, as well as a mostly likable direction I Am Legend remains a very enjoyable film.
How to Stream or Download I Am Legend
To stream or to download the film, click on the Download button at the end of the review. If you like Will Smith, check out also our reviews of The Pursuit of Happyness (2006), Men in Black 3 (2012), Suicide Squad (2016), or Bad Boys for Life (2020).
The Movie Review
I Am Legend surrounds a universe that happens to be a consequence of a medical experiment’s failure. An attempt of re-engineering the measles virus to cure cancer backfires and infects 99% of the world’s population. This new virus either kills the infected or worse; turns them into vampire-like cannibalistic mutants that people begin to term “Darkseekers” due to their vulnerability towards sunlight.
Time then shits to 2012, where U.S. Army virologist Dr. Robert Neville’s solitary life is shown. He lives in the ruins of Manhattan, and wonders if he’s the only one left uninfected. All he does is food search, experiment with rats to find a cure for the infection, and try various ways of contacting other uninfected individuals. He’s lost everyone besides his German Shephard dog and often communicates with fictional characters and mannequins to cope with his solitude.
Scenes of his past are also shown, which display the death of his wife during the rise of the zombifying infection. From there, continues an entertaining viewing of Neville’s adventures and escapes from the Darkseekers, as well as the developments of an experiment that he does on a female Darkseeker to invent a cure.
His journey is an entertaining one, and despite not being something out of the ordinary, it’s thoroughly enjoyable. The film may not be as great as the novel itself, but it’s still something with very little to complain about besides the ending that went against the very essence of the novel, which resulted in there being the release of an alternate ending on the two-disc special edition DVD which had an ending more faithful to the novel.
Neville is a highly interesting character, especially during the early buildup. His predicament can highly be felt, and the film does a relatively good job of depicting it. Will Smith perfectly embodies the role too. Mark Protosevich and Akiva Goldsman’s script may be very basic, especially in comparison to the novel, but it hits the right notes quite often.
Andrew Lesnie’s cinematography and James Newton Howard’s original score fit the tone of the film too. As for Francis Lawrence’s direction, it serves the heroic theme of this film quite well, and there exists a good deal of symbolic build-up to Neville’s heroism.
The problem lies with the vision or the premise itself, as the film can at best be described as a more basic or linear adaptation of the novel. It’s a good film, but not without any cash grab motivations. The ending being the same as the novel would’ve made this film quite better too since most things did work in favor of it.
The Bottom Line
I Am Legend is definitely somewhere among the list of post-apocalyptic film recommendations, but if it were closer to the novel in terms of ending, it would’ve been an extremely definitive recommendation. Still, it is a well-told linear story that rejects the metaphorical ending of the original story in exchange for half a star less in the rating.