Review: I Am Legend (IMAX)

Published 7 years ago by

By Vic Holtreman

Short version: Despite a few problems, Will Smith makes this update of The Omega Man work.

will smith i am legend Review: I Am Legend (IMAX)The plot of I Am Legend is pretty obvious from the trailers and commercials, so it’s not so much about surprises and plot twists as much as it’s about experiencing what Will Smith’s character goes through. At this, the movie succeeds very well.

I Am Legend is the story of a viral cure for cancer gone horribly wrong. As the film opens we see a television interview with a scientist who has succeeded in modifying a deadly virus so that it cures disease instead of causing it. The initial reports are extremely encouraging, with thousands of cases of cancer completely cured.

Of course we know what the final outcome will be and watching that news segment will cause you to cringe in your seat.

The film then jumps to three years later as we see Will Smith as Robert Neville, the survivor of a virus that has wiped out most of the population on Earth driving the streets of an empty and overgrown New York City (I couldn’t help thinking that this was a radical environmentalist’s dream come true). Seeing this vista on the gigantic IMAX screen sucks you into the movie completely, making you feel like you’re right there.

His days seem to be all about survival: Hunting for deer that now run free through the city, scavenging for food and supplies for him and his dog Sam, and staying physically fit. Eventually we learn that he was a high ranking military man who was somehow involved in causing the catastrophe and is obsessed with fixing it.

Throughout the film we are shown flashbacks taking us to the final minutes before the island of Manhattan is cut off and quarantined. It seems that NYC was ground zero for this pandemic and Neville is determined to stay there and find a way to stop it before it gets out of control. He tries to get his wife and young daughter off the island before it’s completely quarantined. These scenes are very compelling and give us a lot of insight into both his character and his pain. All of this is great stuff and quite riveting.

Eventually though we must be introduced to the creepy victims of this disease who have survived as mutated creatures, and slowly the film shifts gears into something that by the end, is a typical action/monster movie. I thought it was effective when there were just a few creatures shown, but by the end when hundreds of them appear it seemed like I was watching a different movie. It was still good, but not as great as the first half.

Another thing that felt kind of off-center was how Neville interacted with some mannequins that he set up at a local video rental store that he frequented. I can understand how after three years he might do that for at least some semblance of other humanity being around, but the way he reacted to one female mannequin in particular was a bit too strange. It made him seem like he had really gone off the deep end, yet he was still sane enough to survive and to continue research on a cure for the disease.

There was also another instance where he totally misinterpreted the reaction of one of the creatures when he had captured another. I thought the meaning of the reaction was blatantly obvious but he assumed something completely opposite, with big consequences down the line.

As to the complaints about the CGI in the film, I thought the deer looked great. I did feel that the mutated humans looked a bit too “videogame-ish” for the overall tone of the film, but it wasn’t enough to ruin the whole thing for me.

I have heard that there were last minute re-shoots on the film to change the ending and I’m hoping that when the DVD is released that they include the original one. I’m curious to see how they were going to end it and to see if it would have worked better.

Despite the issues I mention above, overall I Am Legend is still really enjoyable and well worth checking out, especially on the giant IMAX screen.

Our Rating:

4 out of 5

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  1. Good review Vic. The mannequin scene was a nod to Omega man.”In that film Hestons character finds a women poseing as a mannequin to hide from him”. I’m still on my way to see this one and maybe on a Imax..
    Dark Knight Trailer pays off for WB? I think it helped a little….
    At this time “Ledgend” has made over 30 mill and its tracking to blow past the 80 mill mark for the weekend.

    I’ll have to catch this one sometime next week when the crowds are gone.
    But I can’t wait ,,! :)

  2. Ah… it’s been so long since I saw The Omega Man that I had completely forgotten about that scene.


  3. I highly recommend reading the original short story “I AM LEGEND” by Richard Matheson.

  4. I was looking for it at a used bookstore today but couldn’t remember the author’s name since I didn’t go there with the book in mind.



  5. I liked it too, being a fan of the book, I was able to make myself see it as it’s thing instesd of an adaptation.

    They actually show bits of the original ending in one of the trailers and TV spots, it has Neville in a lab surrounded by the monsters.

    One thing I didn’t like that they cut out was the a little thing that was in the trailer, when he’s in the tub and slowly starts to cover his ears from the noise.

  6. I remember the scene where the mutants are right next to him in the commercials and I thought the same thing: that was from the original ending.


  7. I’d like to see this,but is it something that I could bring a kid (10-14) to see without scaring the bejeezus out of him,Vic? :-)

  8. Kel,

    It depends on the child. 14, no problem, 10… if it’s a boy I’d say no brainer. :-) It is pretty intense in a few spots with the mutants, but nothing that I would call approaching an R rating.


  9. I read it last month and the dog scene made me feel choked up. Powerful stuff. I also recommend Hell House, which was FREAKY!


  10. Damn!

    For two thirds of the movie the spirit of the book is captured and then it goes off in a much less interesting direction. Taken on its own terms the movie is enjoyable to watched powered by Smith’s performance. As it this version of I Am Legend retreats from being something daring and settles for a conventional Hollywood style ending. And ends up becoming an entertaining movie instead of a classic one.

    Too bad.

  11. That’s a great summary and I agree. Not a classic, but enjoyable nevertheless.


  12. i love this movie! that dog scene got me all choked up and the movie was pretty intense. not a classic but a very enjoyable film.

  13. I liked the movie. I went in thinking pure action like I,robot, but this was more of a drama. I really liked the Bob Marley connection. The only problem I had was there where not enough scenes with the mutants.

  14. now this is a great movie! i saw it today (finally) and it was pretty intense. i heard about how he had killed himself in the end and that kind of spoiled it for me, but when i saw the actual movie i understood completly why he did it. he died for his cause to find the cure. the dog scene made me choke up a bit, and i felt really bad for robert. when i came home i gave my chinchilla a hug because that scene made me relize how much i love my “gizmo” (thats his name). And the way he acted to that mannequin was a little wierd for me.

    “DAMN IT FRED!” tee hee

  15. The girlfriend and I went to see this last night and we both really enjoyed it. I re watched both Last man on earth, and The Omega man recently and now I can honestly say I am a fan of all three movies. I agree with everyone else, the scene with Sam his dog made me just about get teary eyed. I went home and gave my dog Trueno a cuddle too and just about teared up again. I thought Will Smith did a great job in the role. I do agree that the mutants looked too fake for my liking. Certainly makes me wonder what i would do in Neville’s place. Scary thought.

  16. L, i already this on dvd. good quality too GF box-office. ;D

  17. For the most part, this movie was enjoyable. I rarely am disappointed by a Will Smith film. To me, though, the ending was awful. Felt like the movie just ended. I usually judge a movie on whether or not I will buy the DVD when it comes out, and for “I Am Legend” I won’t be.