It really is quite impressive how a good film can go to pot at the last minute by making the ending meaningless and boring. While I Am Legend wins points for an incredible performance by Will Smith there is no hiding the fact that the film is let down by numerous flaws outside the nonsensical conclusion.
Adapted from a novel of the same name I Am Legend follows Robert Neville as he survives alone in New York while searching for a cure for the vampire zombie ghoul things that have pretty much taken over the entire world. There are many suspenseful and half touching moments scattered throughout the story which accentuate the protagonist’s loneliness as he grows slowly more desperate to save humanity. Despite that the story for the most part is very interesting it is let down by a senseless conclusion that is completely out of context and portrays the creatures as monsters unlike in the book where they were intelligent beings. There was an alternate ending that was abandoned despite it being far closer to the book.
The special effects that are used for the creatures are questionable when you get a good look at them. They don’t look at all realistic and would probably have looked a hell of a lot better if it had been actors with prosthetics rather than the computer generated forgery that got cut and pasted over the motion captured movements. They pulled it off in The Omega Man and that was made in the 70’s when CGI was practically non-existent. So how did it go so wrong? The same goes for all the computer generated animals that appear because they just look so unreal that it makes me wonder if it was worth actually having them at all. No matter how you choose to look at it the effects are simply stupid.
The acting in this film is really quite outstanding. The primary performance here comes from the infinitely awesome Will Smith who manages to embody the sense of isolation and detachment that his character represents. He never fails to keep your attention and you can feel sympathy for him whenever something horrible or heart breaking happens to the protagonist he portrays. Even if she does not quite match up to the brilliant lead actor, Alice Braga does a really good job in the role of survivor Anna Montez who turns up in the final act with Ethan, portrayed very well by Charlie Tahan. Aside from them there is not really anyone else who strives to steal your attention. The vast majority of the film centres on Will Smith’s character to the point that you almost forget that anyone else is there. That is the sign of a truly great actor.
I Am Legend is a strange mix of brilliant acting and dark narrative which is tarnished by the illogical finale which feels like a real stab in the back for anyone watching it. Even if it is not an amazing film this is still worth a watch if you can stomach the heartless climax. Try to find the alternate ending on YouTube because it is much, much better.