I Am Legend (2007): Snapshot Responses

i_am_legend_poster2.jpgThis isn’t a real review, just some bullet-point responses – with some vague spoilers.

– I could not believe how real New York looked in its overgrown falling-apart empty state. Astonishing. Almost none of the shots rang false – they looked completely real – and without the phony gleam of CGI. The shadows were right, the signage, the decay … amazing. And he hangs out in my neck of the woods – Times Square, Washington Square Park – so I know those streets and avenues intimately. It was very very real – I have no idea how they did it, and I don’t want to know.

– I think of all the actors working today Will Smith comes the closest to capturing whatever it was about Cary Grant that made him so special. I’ve thought that for a while. Smith doesn’t quite have the mystery at the heart of Grant – like, even Grant’s wives didn’t know who the guy was … but in terms of star power, a sense of reality in the moment, an ability to do ridiculous comedy, a certain sense of self-deprecation which is completely charming, he’s sexy, he’s masculine, and when you look at him – you believe him. Also he looks smashing in a tux. And women and men respond to him EQUALLY. That’s totally rare. Clooney has a bit of this, too – but I think Smith does, even more so. I could totally see him kicking some serious ass in a 1930s screwball comedy, playing the “Cary Grant role”. Isn’t a stretch to imagine that at all. And I think, instead of making goofiness and nerdiness like that into an actory exercise, all tics and behavior – he would be totally believable. On some deep deep level, Will Smith is a gigantic NERD. I mean, the guy is obsessed with correct grammar to an almost OCD level. He brings it up in nearly every interview he does. “Why cannot people speak correctly??” he agonizes to some bimbo from Access Hollywood interviewing him on the red carpet. To combine that nerdiness with macho sex appeal is a rare rare thing indeed, and almost no actors have it. He does. The role he plays in I Am Legend takes both those innate qualities of Smith: macho loner-dude, and nerd (he’s a scientist) – and uses both of them quite well.

– Okay. Onward.

– In the flashbacks, when we see the crazed evacuation of New York City (oh, and I could see the end of my street in NUMEROUS shots. Not to give away where I live, but whateveer – in those shots, I was picturing myself at the end of my drive watching the mayhem just across the river, and wondering what I should do. Cause yeah, it’s all about me.) Anyway, when we see Smith’s character in his role as military man, father, husband … he just NAILS it … and it is such a huge contrast to the solitary roaming creature he has become in the present-day. Let me just mention one moment that I thought was superb (and I think the director must have thought so too because he included the shot twice. Like: bro. Don’t ruin a good thing. We saw it once. Let it go. Including it twice is like re-playing the last shot of Queen Christina as the credits roll. Just to make sure we get how awesome Garbo was. No. Once is enough.) But back to the moment. His wife and daughter are being hustled onto a helicopter. He is staying behind, to try to fight the virus. HE IS THE ONLY MAN WHO CAN SAVE THE WORLD, etc. The dog stays with him. The family has said a hasty prayer together, holding hands, before being separated (I have to admit, that part got me) … and then Smith stands back to let the helicopter leave, watching. He is holding the dog in his arms. His daughter and wife are both crying, but they are waving at him. Smith stands there, with tears streaming down his face – but a huge smile on – and the dog reaches up and quick-quick licks the tears off – and Smith kind of grins at his family, a moment of embarrassment at his tears, and also humor at the dog … 5,000 things are going on at once in Will Smith at that moment, but he plays it all with ease and grace. It feels HUMAN, not like a big actor moment, where he gets to show off his tears. There is no swelling music (not that I remember anyway) – just the sound of pandemonium around. And Smith is crying like a real man would cry … I mean that he seems human and like a real guy – not an actor. Actors tears can be cheap. Normal human beings who are not actors often have conflicting feelings about shedding tears, they get embarrassed, or angry – they try to hold it back … etc. They don’t REVEL in the fact that there are TEARS on their faces. And so Smith isn’t crying like an actor cries in that moment. He is crying like a real guy – who might be a bit embarrassed by the tears, and also is still trying to telegraph to his family that everything is going to be okay – which is why he’s smiling … and then he just has to laugh at the dog licking him … Okay, so now I just realized that I described the moment fully TWICE … just like the director used it twice in the film! hahahaha Anyway, it’s only 2 seconds long … but it’s my favorite bit of acting in the film. Such real moments GROUND the thing – because a lot of it is quite quite silly. But what he does in that moment affects how we feel about him for the rest of the film. We love him.

– Wasn’t wacky about the zombies. I just didn’t find them all that scary. New York all empty and overgrown was terrifying. The zombie living dead death-eater darkness-lovers seemed like small potatoes after having to deal with THAT. And the last standoff with the zombies was ridiculous and disappointing. It was suddenly like any other movie – and it had felt like it might be going in another direction. Like: “they followed us home …” I don’t know. Didn’t make sense. Aren’t they always out there at night? Isn’t that why you barricade yourself in? And I just didn’t believe that those shrieking writhing rabies-people were sentient enough to be like: “Hey, guys, I have an idea … let’s follow those guys home!” It just seemed too … typical. At least that was my response to it. I also just wasn’t afraid of them, even though I know I should have been. Like I said before, when the huge lion with the mane strolled out onto 45th and Broadway, under the raggedy TKTS sign and stared at Will Smith … THAT was scary. Because I identified. I couldn’t help but put myself in Smith’s shoes, and problem-solve in those moments. What would I do? How would I fare? Disaster movies are great for bringing up such questions. But zombies “following us home” just didn’t do it for me.

– I loved the dog. One of the best movie dogs I have ever seen. The dog kept checking in with Will Smith, throughout – looking up – searching his face for clues, information … “how do we feel about this???” the dog asks with its eyes. Great dog. Great relationship formed. The film flat out would not have worked if that relationship had been of the cheeseball variety. And it didn’t feel like a “device” like the god-awful Wilson volleyball malarkey, which had device (not to mention “product placement”) written all over it (as Emily and I discussed here). The dog was not only a companion – but a necessary partner in what Smith was trying to do. They were not only buds, but they helped each other – stay strong, stay in the game, try to stay alive. Two is always better than one in some apocalyptic situation!!

– Will Smith has a monologue where he talks to a mannequin in a video store. A female mannequin. The running gag (between him and the dog) is that one day he will get up the guts to “say hi” to her. (Oh, and I love how Smith goes to the video store to take out movies – but he also returns the ones he “rented” the last week. Now that’s integrity! Everyone’s dead – you could take home the whole damn store. But nope. Smith likes the ritual of renting a movie … chatting with the clerk, browsing, etc. Nice detail). Anyway, there’s a sexy female mannequin … and at one particularly low low moment, Smith finally walks up to her and talks to her. As he speaks, I can’t even do justice to the transformation that takes place on his face. It is like a wellspring of grief and loss just gushes up – and his eyes fill up with tears – but more than that – you can see the whites go bloodshot. You know how when you have a certain KIND of cry – your eyes get all red? We watch that happen before our eyes, as Smith tries to talk to the mannequin. Well played, bro.

– He has an incredibly cornball monologue about Bob Marley – but again, he underplays … totally underplays it … his talent is such that it leads him away from the big cheesy gestures … and it actually really works (the monologue). I, the cynic in the audience, was quite moved. Not because I love Marley (I don’t) … but because I totally got what Marley meant to Will Smth’s character. Another very well-played moment.

– The scenes of him screaming up and down the empty grassy avenues of New York in his car (loved the detail about gas being almost 7 bucks a gallon) … chasing down rampaging antelope and gazelle – were positively fantastic. I have no idea how they did it. And like I said, don’t really want to know. It felt completely real.

– Smith has a moment of confrontation with a group of rabies-ridden people. He comes back to his fortress in Washington Square Park – and makes a video on his laptop about what he saw. He’s a scientist – he keeps having to report on all of this. He is disheartened, but he does not let his emotions get the better of him. He is analytical. A scientist. Yet his face tells a deeper story. He is reporting on their “symptoms” – because, after all, these people were once human beings. But he keeps his tone dry, distant … until he says the line, “Recognizable human behavior is now …. totally absent.” Just watch how he says that line. How he underplays it, but how he manages to convey the deep deep sadness he feels. That’s a movie star.

This entry was posted in Movies. Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to I Am Legend (2007): Snapshot Responses

  1. I think it’s pretty courageous of you to go out on a limb by comparing Smith to Grant but it doesn’t seem completely screwy. Smith definitely has charisma which Grant had as well as inimitable charm. But I’ll still have to see more Smith before I’m completely swayed. I’m such a huge fan of Grant that I have a hard time believing anyone could compare to him ever but at the same time I don’t think Smith has gotten the recognition he deserves. Good call.

  2. red says:

    Well, Grant is my favorite actor ever so I certainly don’t make a comparison lightly! To my taste, Smith comes closest – and its that tiny whiff of NERD that does it. Also, his sense of humor about himself. He’s not afraid to look like a jackass.

    Grant was one of a kind – but I still think it’s fun, as an intellectual exercise, to see who today might come close to capturing that SORT of appeal.

    Also, Smith seems a bit old-fashioned to me. Grant always seemed rather old-fashioned – which is why it was so hilarious when he would lose his dignity.

  3. Jeff says:

    Great stuff as always, Sheila. I could definitely picture Smith in a “North by Northwest” type of movie. I’m not certain he has Grant’s comedic chops, but that may be just a matter of time.

    A couple of comments about your bullet points (mild spoiler alert for those who haven’t seen the movie):

    - The part that my kids and I couldn’t quite figure out is how Anna and Ethan were able to get into Manhattan, given the pains the military had gone to in order to isolate it. You certainly know the area better than I do – is there a viable way for them to have made their way into Manhattan?

    - I agree with you that the “zombies” could have been made more interesting, but with respect to their following them to his home, I assumed it was because Anna did not know the pains that the doctor had gone to cover his tracks with whatever liquid it was he’d pour behind himself. Plus, he never went out after dark, did he?

  4. Noonz says:

    Smith really is excellent in this movie, in my opinion. I imagine it must be difficult to do the majority of scenes with no real actors to interact with, and he pulls it all off effortlessly.

    The whole opening sequence with him driving that Shelby Mustang through the empty streets is car-geek Nirvana. (I actually did a big post on this yesterday…I’ll email you the link.) I’ve driven that model…the idea of letting one rip like that in an empty NYC is relentlessly appealing to me.

    Much geek chatter (myself included) at the mythical Batman/Superman movie poster in Times Square after the sequence by the TKTS booth.

    Totally entertaining movie…one i look forward to seeing again when the DVD arrives.

  5. Erik says:

    wow. i had absolutely no interest in seeing this movie until i read this, and now…i am totally jazzed to see this movie. i’m way behind on my moviegoing, but i saw Lars and the Real Girl last night. have you seen it yet? i fell in love with it. i know that according to all of the buzz, Juno is supposed to be the “it” charming sleeper movie right now, and I thought Juno was fine and all, but Lars and the Real Girl really got me. and the weird thing was, even though i love Ryan Gosling, the reason the movie works is because of everyone else in the movie. i don’t want to say anything else about that in case you haven’t seen it, but if you have, i think you’ll know what i mean. have you seen it????

  6. red says:

    Jeff – well, they showed all the bridges being blown up – so unless they somehow were able to get through one of the tunnels (which I doubt – it looked totally traffic-jammed) – I have no idea how they were able to DRIVE onto the island. So that was curious to me, too.

    And yes, you’re right – he never went out after dark – but there’s that scene of him and the dog lying curled up in his bathtub, it’s in the beginning of the movie – and he’s holding his rifle – and you can hear the shrieks of the zombies outside. So I just assumed the zombies were everywhere after dark – they sounded VERY close in that scene anyway … so I didn’t get why he was so shocked that they would have “followed us home” when it seemed like they had been all around his house on other occasions.

    And I just didn’t feel like they were thinking analytical beings, who were like, “Okay … so there’s this guy in the city … and we need to GET HIM.” They seemed too far gone for that!!

    It didn’t ruin the movie for me – but I just wasn’t scared by them!! They seemed more silly than scary. Now those DOGS – that came out of Grand Central and attacked Will Smith and his dog – those dogs were scary to me. But the people not so much.

  7. red says:

    Noonz – I LOVED that Batman billboard … great detail.

    They didn’t change any of the posters in Times Square – it’s all the ones that are up now – Wicked, Hairspray … but that one, they added – and I really liked it. Like Gotham is waiting for a savior that will not come!!

  8. red says:

    Erik – No, I haven’t seen Lars and the Real Girl – but a couple of critics I really respect put it on their Top Ten lists of 2007 – I had no interest in seeing it, but after reading the reviews (and your comments) I feel I really must. And I love Ryan Gosling. Future Oscar winner. I thought so LONG AGO when I saw him in Murder by Numbers, with Sandra Bullock. He was just a teenager, but he nearly stole that entire movie. Awesome actor.

  9. Su says:

    You just did the last bit of convincing to make me go and see the movie…I thought the trailer was really promising (ok, I like that kind of “desaster”-film), but was worried about the whole zombie-thing. That also seems to be what most people liked least (or not at all) about the movie.

    And it’s amazing you wrote in such detail about Smith in comparison to Grant…I just watched I, Robot and North by Northwest kind of back-to-back last week and thought the same thing. Smith would be amazing in a Grant-part; and I’ve always thought Grant could still very much carry a movie today.
    I’m totally wth you on the willingness to embarass oneself, to be unglamorous, not the moviestar by the way – well observed!

  10. Emily says:

    Okay, I don’t have a lot of time right now, so I’ll probably be popping in and out with random comments about what you wrote, but here goes at first — I actually saw a little snippet about “how they did it.” I won’t write anything about it, since you don’t want to know. Besides, if you ever change your mind, I’m sure the DVD will have some detailed mini-doc showing it.

    And Will Smith in the video store. I love that you remembered that little detail of him always returning the movies. The thing that struck me at the time wasn’t just his honesty in regards to the whole thing, but also his sense of hope. A lot of people would have just given up under his circumstances, but he still works hard every day at finding a cure. I got the sense he always returned the videos because he had hope that one day, the store would be functioning again. Maybe I’m just reading too much into it.

    I loved the scenes with the dog, especially when he’s talking to him like he’s a person. “Eat your vegetables…are you planning a surprise for my birthday, because if you are…”

  11. red says:

    Emily – I agree with you about the hope, encapsulated in “renting” movies – and placing mannequins thru the store, as though they are clerks and customers. I loved how he navigated … as though life were still completey normal. Like an act of self-will. I will take my movie out, and I will chat with the clerk (mannequin) and I will notice the pretty girl (mannequin) in the corner because that’s how I would behave if the whole world was the way it was.

    Really nice details like that make the movie, I think.

  12. De says:

    I am SO relieved you wrote this. After watching I Am Legend, I kept telling people “I can’t believe this but Will Smith is a really good actor.” but I felt strange for saying that about the former Fresh Prince of Bel – Air.
    Thanks for validating me! ;)

    I think the zombies were supposed to be vampire like creatures who craved blood. He poured something on the steps of his house when he came home before sunset so maybe this was to mask the smells.
    Then when Anna brought him home, he was bleeding so they could have tracked the smell of blood.
    Just a thought.

    Have you read the original short story on which this was based?

  13. red says:

    De – yeah, I’ve always thought Will Smith was good! Although him becoming a leading man is pretty cool, and I wouldn’t have seen that coming years ago. But he’s got this really endearing sense of humor – that counteracts the possible macho-action-hero movies he gets sometimes … I don’t know. There’s a goofball nerd in there somewhere – know what I mean?? And I loved his dynamic with Tommy lee Jones in Men in Black – he totally held his own.

    I haven’t read the original story! I know it’s been made into a movie about 12 times!

    I did get that they would track him from the blood … but it still seemed a little, uhm, false to me (yeah, like a movie about dark-loving zombie vampires has to seem realistic!! hahahaha)

    I guess the final confrontation with them felt a little bit too much like any old good guy vs. bad guy scene … I did like Will Smith’s final moment – that’s really the only way the whole thing could have gone … but that last scene of fighting in the house left me a little bit cold, I guess.

    Oh, and one other thing: THANK YOU FILMMAKERS for not making those two have a romance! THANK YOU THANK YOU for resisting that. I was sooo afraid it was going to go that way – espeically during the Marley monologue – and it would have been flat out WRONG.

  14. Emily says:

    Oh yes, on the romance thing, Sheila. That would have been flat out insulting. That’s the thing I liked so much about this movie – it managed to give audiences what they want without coming across like it was discussed in a committee, like “people want to see love stories. They should totally have a romantic scene.” Um, NO. These people are a little too fractured and on edge to go there.

    And the zombies – I know that’s what a lot of people didn’t buy about the movie. There’s a ton of stuff there that won’t hold up after I see it two or three more times, but sitting in the theater, watching it for the FIRST time, I was on the edge of my seat. They scared the shit out of me. I did get a little weary at the end as well. I thought “so, not only do humans develop rabies-like symptoms and have to linger in the dark, but apparently their skulls grow eight inches thick so they can pound their way through plexiglass with their heads.” Another thing about that ending that kind of didn’t hold up for me was, and I may be remembering wrong, didn’t the female scientist say something like “there’s plenty of room in here” after she and the boy had crawled into the shaft? Why couldn’t Smith just throw the grenade at the zombies and wait out the night with the two of them in there? I guess the answer to that is because he couldn’t have flown through the air in a final act of defiance to heroically save the human race and die as one with the zombie in a massive explosion, which was pretty cool.

    Ugh, I’m babbling, but I think what ultimately held up for me between the handful of cliches and the “yeah right” moments is that the movie totally had my disbelief suspended. Even if it didn’t make sense, I didn’t care. It was entertaining and suspenseful. Kind of like for the same reasons the first Pirates of the Caribbean and Matrix movies held up, where the sequels didn’t. They were made from the same characters, in the same formula, but they just didn’t have that same magic that the first one did. Or how some films that are clearly meant to be “blockbuster” movies just don’t pull it off. I think I Am Legend did.

  15. red says:

    //flown through the air in a final act of defiance to heroically save the human race and die as one with the zombie in a massive explosion, which was pretty cool.//

    hahaha exactly! That is reason enough!

    Maybe he had gone too far into the darkness himself to ever re-join the human race. He had seen too much. Maybe he felt responsible, in some way. Like Anna observes in their first conversation, “You aren’t used to talking to people anymore, are you?” or something like that.

    But yeah, plexi-glass boy would have been torn to a pulp with that kind of head-banging action!

    I really enjoyed the movie, though. It was a great escape – it flew by.

  16. Ken says:

    My geek moment was that I was hoping Anthony Zerbe would have a cameo in it somewhere.

    “Ne-viiiiiille….”

    I saw The Omega Man in first run in a theater, that’s how decrepit I yam. ;-)

  17. Noonz says:

    The more you guys discuss it, the more I like it in retrospect. I kinda want to go see it again, but the DVD will likely be out by late Feb or March, so I’ll wait.

    I generally have an issue when people walk out of a movie that was completely entertaining immediately bitch about things like, “Those zombies were TOTALLY unrealistic.” It’s like, dude, they’re effing ZOMBIES. It’s unrealistic because THERE ARE NO ZOMBIES in real life. What, you have dealings with zombies on a daily basis that gives you greater insight into this? THEN I’ll listen. If I was confronted by an I Am Legend “Darkseeker” one evening, I would soil myself, hence, mission accomplished by the filmmakers.

    Once you suspend disbelief to accept the widespread zombie enemy, you don’t have to apologize for letting the other stuff slide. I don’t get why some people can’t just let themselves be entertained, you know? That’s what you just forked over 10 bucks for. I’ll stop ranting now.

    I Am Legend, in the end, is simply a cool movie.

  18. red says:

    I didn’t find the zombies scary. I’m sure if I ran into one in real life I would be frightened – but in the context of the film, they didn’t do it for me. It’s not about me not “letting myself be entertained”. And I have an issue with the whole “suspension of disbelief” concept anyway, but that’s another post.

    I can point out what didn’t work for me without throwing out the whole film. I’m a discerning audience member, and I’m aware when something doesn’t work for me.

    I was more scared of empty New York City than the zombies.

    Still a good movie. But to suggest that I’m not “letting myself be entertained” is incorrect.

    I dislike critical attitudes that suggest you need to swallow something whole, hook line or sinker – or you’re being a spoil-sport.

  19. De says:

    You’re right…the whole confrontation thing. It’s a common thing I’m finding in books and movies where they drag the story out then rush the ending. They cram everything in at the end to satisfy our short attention spans, I guess.
    It annoys me.

    Should I be worried that I didn’t fear for anyone BUT the dog during the whole movie?

  20. Marisa says:

    The zombie effects simply were not up to par with thes rest of the film. It’s not being a spoilssport to say that. It’s true and it’s unavoidable. That being said, I very much liked the film.

    I think the finding the house issue is not that they weren’t everywhere every night until then. It’s that New York is huge and he had never returned home after it was dark enough for him to be seen entering THAT house. They may have been looking for him before then, but returning home before light – when they could be followed to their destination – gave the infected population a specific target, which changed everything.

    I agree about Smith. I think he is one of the most remarkable actors working today and I think that has been apparent for some time.

    Some of my favorite moments were the Bob Markey speech and when he walks in mubling along to Shrek. Like he cannot help himself. Like you know he’s watched that movie 100 times. And he watched it with his little girl. At it’s a part of the world he’s trying to cling to “saving.” And it lets that little boy know he’s alright underneath that severe exterior.

    Oh, and the thing about the bacon. For me, a film like this is made by mundane details that ground it and make the characters human.

  21. red says:

    De – ha!! I know … well animals are pretty much innocent. it’s definitely easier to see them as victims to something they have no part of.

    But wasn’t that dog just so great?? I wonder how difficult many of those scenes were – working with animals can’t be easy … but it was all very convincing, I thought.

  22. red says:

    Marisa – Oh God, that Shrek moment was wonderful!

    And I had forgotten about the bacon moment. Excellent script. “I was saving that bacon.”

    Like: for what?? When your family comes back? When the world bounces back to what it was?? it was such a real moment.

  23. Noonz says:

    I wasn’t singling you out, Sheila. (Exhibit A on why it’s bad when I rant.) I’m talking about the subset of moviegoers who seemingly bitch about everything and let the small stuff bug them so much that they never like anything. These are the smartass loudmouths in the lobby who I’ll call the “Everything Sucks” people who are reflexively blanket-critical. I didn’t make my point so well.

  24. red says:

    It’s not so bad when you rant. Just had to defend myself from the charge!

    I like to talk about movies in-depth – which means talking about what doesn’t work (for me).

    I know i sure as hell would lock the door if I saw those zombies stampeding towards my house, but I was still left kind of cold by the final confrontation.

  25. red says:

    (Of course this doesn’t mean that I think those who WERE scared of the zombies are morons or wrong, or whatever … I’m just stating my opinion.)

    carry on!!

  26. Emily says:

    The “I was saving that bacon” moment was awesome, because that’s one of those things I thought this movie did well – interject little bits of humor in between all the tension. All those scenes with Anna and Ethan were great, especially the way he fumbles because he genuinely doesn’t know how to interact with humans that will respond to him anymore.

  27. Noonz says:

    Throwing out the zombie f/x for a moment. The one thing I was happy to see is that we weren’t browbeaten with how the zombie culture functions.

    That was deftly communicated in one fell swoop with the Fred scene outside Grand Central. Far more effective,in my opinion and it created an even greater sense of danger to me. They’re not brainless. They think, and they adapt.

  28. red says:

    Yeah, that was very creepy. And look what happened. He fell for it. He got trapped>

  29. Emily says:

    Oh, that reaction he has after Fred has been moved, when he’s pointing his gun at him and shouting “are you real?!?!” As if he recognizes somewhere beneath the routine that he’s adopted, that these mannequins aren’t real. He’s still got a piece of his sanity left.

  30. Marisa says:

    Honestly, if you consider that on some level he has accepted the idea that he is the last human alive and that nothing will ever be the same and that his resources are finite -

    I would TOTALLY be upset about the bacon.

  31. red says:

    Marisa – totally!

    Especially when you realize that he (and the dog) have been holding themselves back from eating such yumminess … resorting instead to vegetables and canned food (poor dog). The strength it must take to NOT throw that bacon on the grill!

    Also, on a shallow note: I totally want to live in Will Smith’s townhouse.

    My kind of New York apartment. Bookshelves, carpets, fireplace, art on the walls … comfy, cozy. Also, loved the random Keith Haring propped up against the wall in the kitchen: a relic from another plague that had hit new York in a former decade. I thought that was a nice (subtle) touch.

  32. Matt says:

    I’ve read all of these comments with interest. I went to see the movie about a month ago and was shocked that, as a 32 year old guy, I was terrified by most of it. I think I am pretty good at leaving reality at the door when I go to see a movie but I’m usually resistant enough to not be particularly bothered by anything.

    However, I was only partially aware of the zombie plotline because I hadn’t seen the trailer – I had only heard it. I went to see the movie to pass some time, not because I particularly wanted to. Therefore, I was wondering what to expect during the scene where Neville is looking nervously around an apartment and tearing down curtains – I actually envisaged something akin to “28 days later”. Nothing happened and I started to feel fairly convinced that the zombie thing was just an incidental subplot. How wrong.

    Correct that they weren’t visually convincing with the whole jaw-dropped-roaring thing but the way they were introduced and then portrayed/spoken of through the rest of the movie was quite horrifying. Particularly effective in the adrenaline-raising stakes was the scene where Sam follows the deer into the derelict building – the build-up to the first zombie confrontation is superbly shot, and Smith portrays a mortally-afraid man perfectly. It was a horrible surprise to see the (albeit CGI) infected all stood in a circle, hyperventilating, and while Neville tries desperately not to alert them to his presence, you know that something is imminent – then out roars the lone zombie. That set the mood for the rest of the movie for me; I didn’t come out of fight-or-flight for about an hour after, actually!

    I think the most white-knuckle scene for me, though, was the “maniquin” scene – “Fred” stands before a huge, yawning hole in one of the buildings, and you know what lurks there in the darkness. So Neville, trapped and helpless before freeing but injuring himself ramped up the fear again. The scene, mercifully for me but oddly even so, featured only infected dogs – the zombies were nowhere to be seen. But the suspense and anticipation were executed perfectly.

    The third act of the film was a disappointment to me, as I think it was to most people. Sorry, but I don’t think that there was any room for a theological debate because it was all about the horrors that mankind is capable of inflicting on himself. The final showdown with Dash Mihok’s alpha male character was a sham, as was the terrible monologue at the end by Hannah. All too trite for me.

    Still, I still harbour a sense of disturbance when I recall the film, so it appears that the director’s work was relatively well done!

    Essay ends :)

  33. Kendra says:

    I really loved this movie… I totally got sucked in. I think I’ll have to buy it this weekend and watch it again.
    Thanks for the great input on it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>