Will Smith plays Dr. Richard Neville, a scientist soldier, who with his dog, Sam, seem to be the sole survivors of a viral epidemic that has either killed most of the people on the earth, and impaired the few hundred thousand remaining that appear as light-shy vampires, drawn into action by human blood. New York is the disaster site but it ends in the green, hopeful hills of Vermont.
If you are a fan of the 1971 cult-classic The Omega Man, meet the 21st century re-make. Directed by Francis Lawrence, who gave us the 2005 religious horror flick Constantine (Catholic imagery; Protestant theology), has now given us a more mainstream horror film that remains faithful to The Omega Man, is redemptive at its heart, and is a genuine sci-fi, futuristic horror movie. Whereas Constantine seemed weighted down by its team of writers, Akiva Goldsman's (A Beautiful Mind) influence here is to be noted in this crowd of writers. This is a much better film than Constantine (to me).
What was rather hopeless, and deserved more development in I am Legend, was that the cure for cancer (reprogramming viruses) took such a terrible turn. Genetic messing around is serious business with huge and important ethical and moral implications, but what the Emma Thompson character seemed to be doing in this film seemed like a good thing. We don’t ever find out why it was so … fatal. Was it a backhanded way of showing that humans cannot play God, even curing disease? The Omega Man gave us a savior without a remnant, but I am Legend presents a dispensationalist theology of the remnant, hinting at films such as Left Behind.
I went to see this film with my sister, Emilie, and my arm is bruised where she kept grabbing it when she got scared; her screaming practically pierced my eardrum. If you like scary films, go for it.
Will Smith's performance is, as always, impeccable.