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Overall Rating

Awesome: 14.72%
Worth A Look: 23.31%
Average: 20.25%
Pretty Bad: 9.82%
Total Crap31.9%

6 reviews, 127 user ratings

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I Am Legend
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by Eugene Novikov

"Annoyingly almost-great."
4 stars

I AM LEGEND is a dispiriting combination of the eerie and the ham-fisted, good enough that the mistakes it makes are genuinely frustrating rather than feeling par for the course. It builds nicely, but heads for an abrupt, unsatisfying conclusion, getting more and more confused along the way. More than anything else this year, the film gives the impression that at some point, someone simply gave up.

There is still plenty here for admirers of mainstream filmmaking craft. Director Francis Lawrence, whose Constantine was a visionary achievement of a sort, knows that the way to make this kind of sci-fi horror legitimately creepy is to integrate the realistic into the fantastical. For example, I am hard-pressed to think of a recent blockbuster with an opening gambit as effective as I Am Legend's: a chillingly authentic news report, with Emma Thompson putting in a brilliant cameo as a doctor whose new viral treatment has resulted in 10,000 cancer-free patients in 10,000 human trials ("So you have actually cured cancer." "Yes. Yes. Yes, we have."), followed by the title card "Three Years Later" and an astonishing shot of a completely empty, weed-infested Manhattan. By letting us imagine what's elided, rather than walloping us with a voiceover or a title scroll, the film does a few things: it engages us, frightens us, gets our imaginations firing; most importantly, it gives itself the opportunity to play us like a piano by filling in the details later, at its own pace.

Many of those details come via flashback once the Last Man on Earth story gets going. The Last Man on Earth is Lieutenant Colonel Robert Neville (Will Smith), the only person in New York with an immunity to the virus that ravaged the world, and he is another reason why I Am Legend is interesting beyond what one might expect from a December tentpole. When things began looking grim, Neville -- also a virologist -- was put in charge of the desperate efforts to reverse the spread of the disease, and he stayed in Manhattan despite the quarantine, leaving his wife and young daughter to an uncertain fate. Now all alone except his dog, he spends his days gathering the left-overs of civilization, making vain attempts to find other survivors, and running experiments in his basement lab. When his wristwatch beeps around sunset, he tightly shutters the windows and doors of his house and sleeps, trying to ignore the sounds of the things that come out at night.

What makes Neville so ambiguous, so intriguing, is the way the screenplay continually toys with the notion that he may have gone mad. Surviving an apocalypse and, for all you know, being left alone on the planet is no cakewalk, and we are never sure whether to treat Neville's eccentricities -- if that word means anything after a virus wipes out the human population -- as merely coping mechanisms or as signs of a mind that has become unhinged. He talks to mannequins and tries to negotiate with his dog ("Eat your vegetables"), which seems harmless, even funny, except when juxtaposed against his rage late in the film, and his dangerously obsessive sense of responsibility for what happened. He is dead set on finding a cure -- "I can fix this" and "I'm not gonna let this happen" are his chilling, incongruous mantras -- even as he angrily denies the possibility that there may be a colony of survivors huddled somewhere in Vermont.

The ending curiously suggests that Neville might symbolize the collective atheist mindset, accepting all the responsibility for humanity's fate without acknowledging a glimmer of hope. The dumb, formulaic ending is neither here nor there on this score, and the question doesn't get resolved. But the fact that it is even raised shows how serious the screenplay is about its protagonist. Will Smith is serious about him too, turning in the latest in a series of remarkable performances; he isn't merely the biggest movie star in the world, he's the guy you go to when you want to give your quarter-billion-dollar movie some charm and humanity. He holds the screen alone for nearly an hour, interacting only with a dog and some special effects. His $25 million salary is a bargain.

The last fifteen minutes must represent some sort of weird compromise. Talky, with awkward bursts of action, they lead to an unpersuasive, out-of-the-blue resolution, and a final note that's all wrong. (There's an 11th hour resort to voiceover, after all.) But they follow a thoughtful, even quiet (though still ostentatiously expensive) film. The problems are more evident because so much of the movie is so strong; I liked it a lot. It almost finds greatness.

(Reprinted from

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originally posted: 12/14/07 20:03:22
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User Comments

7/13/14 Jack My god, what a terrible movie. 1 stars
3/11/14 John Just awful. 1 stars
1/18/12 Marc DC One of the better zombie/apocalyptic movies. Adding people at end lessened its originality 4 stars
10/12/10 Lars This is the Tub he sleeps in - 4 stars
4/17/10 matt honestly, it just didn't work on any level. 2 stars
3/23/10 Blake I don't know why alot of people hate this movie. It's one of the greatest I've ever seen! 5 stars
7/25/09 Jack Mangled story. Horrible "acting". Laughable CGI. 1 stars
6/27/09 CTT Tour de force from Smith; underrated and misunderstood 5 stars
6/05/09 JR I couldn't have hated it more... 1 stars
5/18/09 R Lan Perfect rating for this film. It's average. Shouldn't go out of your way to see or avoid. 3 stars
4/26/09 Tom One of the greatest movies NEVER made. I AM SUCKER for paying to see this CRAP. 1 stars
4/13/09 Heston An effective and involving lone-man against the zombies flick, despite some dumb moments 4 stars
3/16/09 Yo MTV Raps Mastabatory greatness 5 stars
1/19/09 Jonathan It took how many years to get this film off the ground? …Cinematic GARBAGE. 1 stars
1/11/09 Anonymous. this movie isn't near as bad as alot of people are making it sound. actually, it's good. :] 4 stars
12/18/08 Simon It's solid, like 3.49/5. Despite flaws of script and lamely-put message, it's discussable. 3 stars
12/15/08 Jack A travesty. It's I AM LEGEND Mr. Smith, not I Have a Dream. Jerk. 1 stars
11/15/08 Annie G Won’t stand up to any scrutiny, but a fun one-time action apocalypse film. 3 stars
10/18/08 Ron Where are John Carpenter and Kurt Russell when you need them? 1 stars
9/06/08 Rada Sarbu Saw it on DVD at night, alone; a bit terrifying. I really liked it, but not the 2 endings. 4 stars
7/24/08 Shaun Wallner Will Smith is a Great Actor!! 5 stars
6/28/08 pin Smith was fantastic, CGI was iffy (so?), the budget dictated the ending, deal with it. 4 stars
6/26/08 DK Great Smith performance and some solid direction- but script shits on the book 3 stars
6/16/08 Wolfrider Annoyingly SLOW and depressing - bad CGI and violence against animals 1 stars
6/12/08 Jayson Amazing. Loved every minute. Will Smith is the man. 5 stars
6/07/08 Joe getting tired of all the Hollywood computer generation, it sucks! 2 stars
5/26/08 David Pollastrini Theatrical version was great. The alternate ending was stupid. 5 stars
5/22/08 Dana Ending was a bit off but most of the movie was very good 4 stars
5/11/08 Dan Flawed, but worth watching. Good atmosphere. I'd give 3.5 stars if I could 4 stars
5/10/08 Siggie I really wanted to love this movie. I loved the Richard Matheson story & the other 2 movies 3 stars
5/06/08 madglo83 Rented the movie - I'm glad it only cost me a dollar. 1 stars
5/05/08 steve great all around experience 5 stars
4/26/08 Pete Chesworth Watchable but full of gaping plot holes like what do the zombies live on if all the humans 3 stars
4/21/08 Jack What a Horrible movie. The Title, the CENTRAL theme in the novel, is not even explained!!! 1 stars
4/13/08 Mike Acrobatic CGI created zombies take away the realistic image from the movie 4 stars
4/12/08 Katie not what I expected, but not bad. 3 stars
4/07/08 jesabel Ok film, the ending sucked. What happened to his wife, humanity-what happened at the end? 2 stars
4/06/08 thismoviesuckeddogshit Terrible... everything. Too many plot holes, terrible ending, i can go on and on and on.... 1 stars
4/05/08 stephanie willis just ok 3 stars
3/24/08 wnm Will Smith did ok in a movie that had obvious problems with story and cartoon-like zombies 3 stars
3/24/08 vince Last man on earth was better. I wish Arnold had starred in this one, and a better director 3 stars
3/19/08 action movie fan great production but litte thrills and not much action-story poorly developed-a disappointm 3 stars
3/07/08 not2well tons of plot holes, stone cold acting, and an idealistic ending..not what i was looking for 1 stars
3/06/08 damn only reason this piece of shit made any money was cause everyone thought it was gonna be ok 1 stars
3/03/08 ladavies I was disappointed because I loved the book and this took a weird turn. 2 stars
2/29/08 damalc exciting for a while, but ultimately forgettable; smith doesn't have the chops for this 3 stars
2/18/08 sophrosune It wasted 1:30 of my life, that I can never get back. 1 stars
2/11/08 John Geddie hype far exceeded the film 3 stars
1/26/08 proper amateur film critic You're left gawping at a $100 million worth of eye popping futuristic B movie 1 stars
1/24/08 John Campbell This reviewer was spot on about everything. 1 stars
1/20/08 orpy sucked big time! 1 stars
1/16/08 Dani Very disappointing. Will Smith was never in a bad movie before this one. 2 stars
1/14/08 Abhishek Chakraborty It's not as bad as the other users have said. I wasn't blown away with the ending, though 4 stars
1/07/08 I-K Serious sci-fi with real emotional punch ruined by rushed story and simplistic ending. 3 stars
1/05/08 Jack Where are J.Cameron & Arnold S. when you need them? 1 stars
1/02/08 Russo I am Legend was a GREAT movie ! All you low life nerds who think other wise are just idiots 5 stars
12/29/07 davebee If you read and liked the book, then DON'T SEE THIS will be disappointed 2 stars
12/27/07 John If I want a lecture about racism then I will see the Great Debaters, not I am Legend. Geez. 1 stars
12/27/07 Andy & Taze Read the book then curse Hollywood and Will for their cynical profit making 1 stars
12/26/07 Joel Elfrank The worst movie I have seen this year 1 stars
12/22/07 Doug Not bad, but the redemption of God at the end was lame. 3 stars
12/22/07 ravenmad I totally agree, I was so unhappy with everything! Ten minutes in, I didn't like it. 2 stars
12/22/07 Buttley Not a great movie. 3 stars
12/22/07 mr.mike as a self-styled critic , 4 stars , as a moviegoer, 3 4 stars
12/22/07 WeeToddDidd Nothing special, it's all been done before 3 stars
12/21/07 ScubaSteve Wow, this review blows. Take it for what it is and quit being a picky know-it-all. 5 stars
12/21/07 Jesoul Yup, this review is spot on! Smith- great but way too many loose ends! ending was so lame! 3 stars
12/21/07 Richard The review was on the money. Will Smith: Great. CGI Sucked. Plot and movie: Too short. 3 stars
12/20/07 Darren Good but the monsters looked silly. I hear the book was better. Smith was great 4 stars
12/20/07 Michael entertaining go see 28 days later a better movie 4 stars
12/20/07 Chip Not great, but I didn't think it sucked. Just some mindless entertainment for Friday night 4 stars
12/20/07 Dirk Apart from the obvious flaws, this movie is still very entertaining. 4 stars
12/20/07 ab childish review 4 stars
12/20/07 Dave Had potential but to many plot holes and the talking to mannequiens just cheesy 3 stars
12/19/07 SG Spot on. Most accurate review I've seen yet. 1 stars
12/19/07 J_movie The movie is a suspense movie, not an esoteric artistic expression, GOY Snobs! 4 stars
12/19/07 obnoman Worst hack job on a classic EVER! 1 stars
12/19/07 C.R. Beautiful beyond measure. 'Legend' speaks to our inadequacy and potential as human beings. 5 stars
12/18/07 Scott "F". I'm done with Will Smith. He sucks. Always has. 1 stars
12/18/07 Ian Thank God I'm Not Alone. This Movie Was SO AWFUL! 1 stars
12/18/07 digitalb CGI was horrible! Even the lions looked fake, big league budget little league fx!! 2 stars
12/18/07 Anna Absolutely TERRIBLE movie... I would love to have my money, and my time, back. 1 stars
12/18/07 Seth This review sums up the reason why many people don't like this movie. It's not believable. 2 stars
12/18/07 ryan you must have seen a different movie than i did. i thought it was moving and powerful 4 stars
12/18/07 Zild Stop expecting it to be a Picasso and you might actually enjoy. If not, then no one cares. 5 stars
12/18/07 Barbara This was a great movie. I will definitely purchase it for my collection. 5 stars
12/18/07 Lucifer Satan book amazing, this blew, cgi sucks 1 stars
12/18/07 Coyoteman Hundreds and hundreds of Smeagols. Pathetic movie. 2 stars
12/18/07 Frank Should have waited for the rental. Not worth the gas or popcorn much less the admission. 1 stars
12/18/07 Ricky Wow, worst written review ever! Dude, take a community college english class ASAP! 1 stars
12/18/07 Quigley One of the year's best films. Incredibly suspensful and eerie. Excellent Will Smith 5 stars
12/18/07 Roberto Horrible... Ending was even worse.. 1 stars
12/18/07 Martin what are you guys fooking brain dead-this was the worst movie of the year. 1 stars
12/18/07 Ole Man Bourbon Nothing to it other than absurdity 2 stars
12/18/07 Claire Another failed effort to do justice to an amazing book. 'I am garbage' is a better title 1 stars
12/17/07 toomanymovies Very disappointing. I love Smith, but this movie was bad. Too many plot holes. 2 stars
12/17/07 Obi Wan Will Smith staples to his name to the Top Tier of American actors! 4 stars
12/17/07 J-tron Dude you need to really chill out. you're over analyzing it, 1 stars
12/17/07 Kevin This review is horseshit! This move is a great movie.See the movie. 5 stars
12/17/07 P I don't understand all the negative criticism. This movie, Smith's acting was AMAZING! 5 stars
12/17/07 Chrissie I think you're way off the mark on this one. 4 stars
12/17/07 rybo dogshit 1 stars
12/17/07 Panda It was brilliant. Anyone who says differently needs to be shot, or infected. 4 stars
12/17/07 Tom Servo Most expensive adaptation out of the three manages to be the worst. Go read the book. 1 stars
12/16/07 Mark 1. You can't write 2. Go play a video game, it'll assuage your ADD 4 stars
12/16/07 link what a good movie 5 stars
12/16/07 Captain Highcrime Talk about fantasy: that's the fastest anyone's been able to drive in NYC in fuck, 50 years 3 stars
12/16/07 HistoryBuff Afrocentric swill. 1 stars
12/16/07 VonDouchebag Modern storytelling at it's lowest, throwing more money and CGI at it just makes it worse. 1 stars
12/16/07 TheJet Were we watching the same movie? Smith wit another unforgettable pefromance 5 stars
12/16/07 Jaime I just saw this movie and Wil Smith was IMPRESSIVE 5 stars
12/16/07 Ray Ford moving movie, my faith in Smith as a serious actor is now restored 5 stars
12/16/07 pswfe Disappointed 4 stars
12/16/07 TESS Awesome. I loved it,although mu husband wanted more action. 5 stars
12/16/07 Jake The second half of the movie was just bad, but the first half more then made up for it. 4 stars
12/16/07 DogofWar This was a great movie. A great psycological horror thriller, no matter what anyone says. 5 stars
12/15/07 Curt Enjoyable, interesting, decent story but not Matheson's. I was expecting gore and action. 4 stars
12/15/07 Justin I hated this movie. Relentlessly punishing - 2 stars for Smith's effort 2 stars
12/15/07 Pollenfax Very dissappointed in the movie. Oh well. 2 stars
12/15/07 Od Green Smith, ok. Movie, missed it's mark. More hunting, real vamps would have been better. 2 stars
12/15/07 Kevin Just saw the movie, and it was pretty damn good. I sincerely apologize, but your wrong. 5 stars
12/15/07 Dan Erik I don't know what movie you saw but to call Will Smith a bad actor after see that... 5 stars
12/15/07 Will Man, I need to become a film critic. Hate on this movie then give The, Mist 5 stars.... 4 stars
12/15/07 Naurto Will there EVER be a decent adaptation of the book?!?!?!?!?! 1 stars
12/14/07 David Well, Smith's pissed on Asimov and now Matheson. Can't wait to see who he'll trash next. 1 stars
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  14-Dec-2007 (PG-13)
  DVD: 18-Mar-2008



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