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Hollywood actor Will Smith

For three years now, Robert Neville’s routine begins as he wakes up, exercises, eats his breakfast, buys his grocery and bathes his dog Sam. Never forgotten too is the task of sending out a message on the radio, calling out to other survivors of the cure-turned-pandemic that wiped out everyone, including his family. At the bay, he waits at noon, in hopes of receiving a response and of possibly meeting another human being to break his continued state of solitude.

It well may seem that he and his dog are the last remaining inhabitants of New York, but lurking in dark buildings are sinister beings, watching him and waiting for him to make a mistake. Futuristically set in 2012, this 2007 version of Richard Matheson’s book of the same name stars Hollywood actor Will Smith. I Am Legend (2007) is the latest of three movies based on the said book, following The Last Man on Earth (1964) and The Omega Man (1971). It revolves around the story of scientist and military man Neville, who for three years has pursued the study of the infected people around him who are turned into zombie-like creatures.

As he remains immune to the virus, whether he contracts it from the air or from bites of those infected, his blood is a crucial element of his experiments and is later on seen as the cure. As much as I Am Legend is entertaining, a few parts of it are seen by Protosevich and Goldsman (“I Am Legend-Review,” par. 6) as “full of all the usual, splashy (and sometimes bad/unnecessary . . . ) CGI and eye-popping set pieces”. Furthermore, its portrayal of Neville during the beginning of the movie shows him as the lonely man, who fakes companionship by creating manikins around the city, and talking to his dog Sam as if it were a comprehending person.

Somehow, this part seems a little too similar to earlier movie Castaway (2000). Fetters (“Smith’s Legend an Ordinary Disappointment,” par. 7) is also disappointed as the movie apparently goes down more predictable paths, walking too close alongside 28 Days Later (2003) and Resident Evil (2002). It may be that this predictability is actually a factor that further draws us to such movies. But it seems more likely that their remaining appealing is due to the curiosity they invoke in us to see what makes them unique.

I Am legend, for instance, has its own uniqueness when it deviates from the usual action movie. “Where other action movies would be loud and jittery, I Am Legend is still and quiet,” say Protosevich and Goldsman (“I Am Legend-Review,” par. 6). It also “takes chances, assuming its audience is up for more than ear-splitting explosions, zombie retreads, and happy, catchphrase laden endings. ” True enough, the movie goes beyond the action part of the story and focuses too on Neville’s psychological situation.

Although what has kept him alive for three years is his natural immunity, other things have also helped him do so. For one thing, he is strongly determined to fix the situation, even though it seems that the idea of capturing infected zombie-like humans to cure them is ludicrous, not to mention, difficult to be achieved by one man. However, this determination might be interpreted as an obsession as Neville simply has nothing else to do, and no one else to live for. When his dog Sam dies, his determination wavers but is somehow revived when he meets two other survivors, who rescue him from a fatal stunt.

Finally, its depiction of zombies strays from them being mere monsters. The movie paints them as adaptive and social creatures, who if not cured, may replace man as earth’s alpha species. These zombies have learned to congregate into groups. A scene where a male zombie is angered over Neville’s abduction of a female zombie even gives the impression that they may have developed relationships already. Moreover, their intellectual abilities have developed. After seeing Neville’s way of luring fellow zombies, they make a trap for him as well, from which he barely escapes.

As much as Neville takes advantage of their inability to go out during the day, the zombies make use of night to collectively break in to Neville’s house. More importantly, I Am Legend is an example of how action films have evolved over time. One, the focus of these action/sci-fi movies have shifted from the old abduction or taking over the world by aliens. Many movies are now revolving around apocalyptic themes, showing different struggles of people during these catastrophes. Such difference is evident when movies such as Aliens (1986) and IRobot (2004) are put in comparison.

Instead of showing alien threat like what Body Snatchers does, recent sci-fi movies present an end for human life, possibly through flash flooding as in The Day After Tomorrow (2004), or overtaking of zombies as in Dawn of the Dead (2004). Evident in movies like I Am Legend and Resident Evil too is the inclination of plots towards highly technological themes. Both movies rightly reflect the same movement towards technology that is evident at present. In I Am Legend however, the consequence of such tampering in genetics is terrible, as the supposedly cure for cancer, turns out to be the cause of the wiping out of New York’s populace.

It employed the use of a virus that did not work as planned, and Neville intends to use the same technology to reverse what happened. Furthermore, I believe these movies could be indicative of how people are now realizing that man is, as some say, a violent race, who in the end will bring about his own destruction. In the previous movies discussed, the apocalyptic events are inevitably caused by man’s actions. Global warming is pointed out as the reason for the extreme weather experienced in The Day After Tomorrow. Even in The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008), we are intended to be destroyed by intelligent beings due to our violent ways.

In The Happening (2008) too, the planet seems to be rejecting humans as pests due to their neglect of the environment. I Am Legend has received both negative and positive reviews from critics, perhaps due to the mentioned predictability and unnecessary effects, or its otherwise deviation from the usual action movie. But, more significantly, it is a good example that illustrates how the action/sci-fi genre has evolved. They reflect the inclination towards modern technology as they become more and more techie. There is also a certain pessimism created as themes shift towards those centered on apocalyptic ones and self-destruction of humanity.

WORKS CITED 28 Days Later. Dir. Danny Boyle. Perf. Alex Palmer, Bindu De Stoppani, and Cillian Murphy. Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2003. Aliens. Dir. James Cameron. Perf. Sigourney Weaver, and Carrie Henn. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, 1986. Castaway. Dir. Robert Zemeckis, and Steve Starkey. Perf. Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt, Nick Searcy, Chris Noth, and Lari White. 20th Century Fox Distribution, 2000. Dawn of the Dead. Dir. Zack Snyder. Perf. Sarah Polley. Universal Pictures, 2004. Fetters, Sara. 2007. Smith’s Legend an Ordinary Disappointment. 19 May 2009 http://www. moviefreak. com/artman/publish/movies_iamlegend.

shtml I Am Legend. Dir. Francis Lawrence. Perf. Will Smith. Warner Brothers Pictures, 2007. I-Robot. Dir. Alex Proyas. Perf. Will Smith, Alan Tudyk, Bridget Moynahan, Chi McBride, and Bruce Greenwood. 20th Century Fox Distribution, 2004. Protosevich, Mark, and Goldsman, Akiva. 2007. I Am Legend – Review. 19 May 2009 http://www. cinemablend. com/reviews/I-Am-Legend-2777. html Resident Evil. Dir. Paul W. S. Anderson. Perf. Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Eric Mabius, James Purefoy, and Colin Salmon. Screen Gems, 2002. The Last man on Earth. Dir. Ubaldo Ragona. Perf. Vincent Price, and Franca Bettoia.

American International Pictures, 1964. The Omega Man. Dir. Boris Sagal. Perf. Charlton Heston, Anthony Zerbe, Rosalind Cash. Warner Home Video, 1971. The Day After Tomorrow. Dir. Roland Emmerich. Perf. Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal, Emmy Rossum, Dash Mihok, and Jay O. Sanders. 20th Century Fox Distribution, 2004. The Earth Stood Still. Dir. Scott Derrickson. Perf. Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, 2008. The Happening. Dir. M. Night Shyamalan. Perf. Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, and John Leguizamo. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, 2008.

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