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2 reviews: by dalia di giacomo and Matthew Haumschild
preview by dalia di giacomo____
PLEASE SAY HELLO TO ME!
If there is anybody out there. Anybody. Please. You are not alone
"I`M NOT GONNA LET THIS HAPPEN" - Just think that cancer is a very fast car, driven by a very bad “man” with distructive attitude, so what if we could be able to change the driver? In year 2009 scientists announce that a definitive vaccine against cancer has been found. Problem is: who does cure the cure? This alleged formidable genetic – engineered discovery turns very soon into a terrible lethal airborne virus that, of course, spreads and infects human beings (and animals too after a direct contact). More than 90% of mankind will be decimated, around 9% of the infected will not die but will become extremely aggressive living -flesh eaters, mutants that are no zombies, but violent creatures who fear the light (in particular UV light) with an accelerated metabolism, enhanced agility and a terrible , blind primordial instinct to attack and kill, without caring about any physical pain.
Only 1% of the world population is immune, true survivor in a worse than dead world. US Army virologist Lieutenant Colonel Robert Neville should find the remedy against this epidemic strain, nonetheless the burst of the airborne strain is unstoppable, unavoidable. The movie actually takes place in the year 2012, but , thanks to well placed flashbacks and cuts of recorded broadcastings we can comfortably reconstruct the whole story that previously happened and that caused the change on earth. Already the intro reminds the past when everything began: with Dr. Alice Krippin (Emma Thompson) who appears on TV joyfully explaining her successful vaccine against cancer. Immediately afterwards we meet immune virologist Neville who is living as only survivor, in the quiet (therefore even more frightening) squalor of a ghost city: Manhattan in 2012. Based on Richard Matheson`s novel (dated 1954), the screenplay changes location from the Los Angeles of the novel to New York, there where an empty and abandoned urban environment gets full impact. The decadence of the empty town is rendered perfectly. Accompanied only by his dog “Sam” (Samantha - mainly played by the German Shepherd Abbey), Neville gets out of home only during the day, trying to survive the terrible heavy loneliness through well organized routines, always broadcasting radio messages, looking for other survivors .
"If there is anybody out there. Anybody. Please. You are not alone"
FROM HUMOUR TO PURE FEAR - The first scenes are incredible and let immediately understand how in shape Will Smith is. Speaking only with the dog, leading in reality a measured monologue, mixed with scenes of action, Will Smith can immediately involve appearing so believable. The spectator begins to empathize with him, and , at the same time, is amused to see how Neville drives along these streets left to uncultivated vegetation, to a lot of immobile cars and to deer that Neville tries to hunt, while lions are more successfully. The spectator is also amused when Neville speaks with his dog, or when he maintains himself fit or when he watches recorded old TV broadcasting, or when he greets the mannequins he set up in a dvd store. But the humoresque every day life of a solitary survivor shows soon its real face. One of the most brilliant capacities of this movie is indeed to pass quickly from smooth, unagitated scenes to the pure fear. And even when something predictable happens, no vivid emotion is lost.
" WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING HERE, FRED?" - So.. resuming, ..first point of attraction is the brilliant performance of will Smith, growing exponentially during the development of the story. Second point, the recreation of a ghost Manhattan, a ruin which is not only technically a ruin, mainly an abandoned environment. Impressive is that sense of emptiness, desperate decadence under the sun even when houses are there, the sense that everything seems lost for ever. Third point is the arising of fear and I don’t mean horror, I mean fear, dreadful anxiety. The horror can be imagined. When, during a hunt, Neville`s dog enters in the dark labyrinth of a building , while Neville is running after shouting “Sam, no!”, looking for it almost terrified , forced to call then the dog slowly in the obscure underground, fearing the danger, you understand how scary the imminence of danger can be. The hyperventilating, utterly aggressive mutants are there. This time Neville and Samantha escape but the true hunt has just begun. Neville never gives up to search for a remedy to this virus strain and tests various treatments on rats; when one treatment seems to appear promising, Neville decides to test it on a living mutant, and prepares a trap . He catches an infected woman ( probably the alpha-woman), but the alpha male has observed everything and will prepare a similar trap for Neville. The rest is pure action rich in unforgettable moments, beginning with the displaced mannequin. The mannequin Fred, set away from the usual place, is a psychobomb on Neville and the ambush of the trap against him. So simple and yet so terrifying : one of the DVD store mannequins has simply been displaced. In this desolation and solitude, a displaced mannequin is the most insane thing.
"What the hell are you doing out here,
Fred? Fred, if you're real, you better tell me right now!"
"PLEASE SAY HELLO TO ME!" - The hard difficult escape from the trap, the sinister sunset, the coming of the darkness when only a ray of light can make the difference from life or death, the fight between Samantha and infected dogs (dogs are immune to airborne virus strain, but not to a direct bite) are so simple yet so masterly expressed. The touching moment is when Neville has to kill Samantha, he feels devastated like he would lose a person, indeed he loses the only interactive contact with another sane living being he was having as companion since years. The terrible pain for this lost and the enormous solitude explodes almost with no words in Neville’s eyes and in the few almost broken words told later to the pretty mannequin of the dvd store: “please say hello to me”. the subsequent nocturnal outbreak of Neville against a group of infected is the peak of his rage that would almost cost his life. But, in the darkness, there is always a light : two survivors Ann and Ethan, a woman and a young boy, save him just in time and for the moment. It's not easy for Neville to realize that he is no longer alone. But Ann and Ethan will give renewed strength to Neville’s research. They represent the last hope, the true last opportunity. A negative point may be Ann`s too religious inspiration, as she were a passive instrument of God. Nonetheless the psychological profile about human reaction to prolonged states of solitude and struggle has been accurately studied by the production who took in consideration many details and many situations for long time . So Ann too, after all, is believable.
GOD`S PLAN IN A QUIETER WORLD TO BE LISTENED TO - Does realy exist a colony of survivors? Is the preparation effective on the alpha woman? Ann tells Neville that the world has become much quieter, so one should be able to listen better to the sixth sense . Call it God`s voice or instinct. It`s true, our world is so stressing but mainly so noisy, there is no space left for inner voices of any kind of nature, we don’t listen to premonitions any longer, we don’t distinguish any warning or inspiration among the opulent noise pollution of frenetic traffic, televisions, radios, video games, mobile phones, ipods and whatever. Something told Anna to turn on the radio finding Neville’s broadcasting , something leads her to Vermont. Skeptic , bitterly pragmatic Neville has a different opinion: "All right, let me tell you about your "God's plan". Six billion people on Earth when the infection hit. KV had a ninety-percent kill rate, that's five point four billion people dead. Crashed and bled out. Dead. Less than one-percent immunity. That left twelve million healthy people, like you, me, and Ethan. The other five hundred and eighty-eight million turned into your dark seekers, and then they got hungry and they killed and fed on everybody. Everybody! Every single person that you or I has ever known is dead! Dead!". Yet, for Neville too will come the moment to listen to his own inner voice, and , from a “butterfly”, a legend will fly high.
dalia di giacomo 09.01.2008
review by Matthew Haumschild___
two most reliable words in Hollywood
I read somewhere
that “I am Legend” will be successful because it contains the two
most reliable words in Hollywood, Will Smith. I chuckled when I read
that because Wild West and Hitch were just terrible movies. However, I
am Legend is completely different!
I am Legend takes
place in a semi-post-apocalyptic North America. I won’t ruin too much
of the movie for you, but after a failed attempt at curing cancer, the
cure had other side effects that basically turns anyone who isn’t
immune into Zombies/Vampires. I say vampires because these “mutants”
hate sunlight and apparently, sunlight has adverse effects on their
The story is Will Smith and his dog, hunt animals during the day
to feed themselves, during all this he has flashbacks on seeing his
family leave New York. For the majority of the movie, it’s just Will
Smith and his dog. He hardly had any dialog but the dialog Will Smith
did have, was his character, talking to mannequins. I liked this idea,
because it showed on how crazy his character was getting due to the lack
of communication and lack of interaction with the outside world. By
adding this to the story, I believe it added more substance to his
character and to the movie as a whole, because if it didn’t have this,
this would just be any ordinary action movie where there’s tons of
special effects and explosion, lack of a good story, and flat
I liked I am Legend. Do I think it’s one of Will Smith’s best
movies? No. Do I think I’ll be watching this movie in ten years? No.
Was it entertaining? Absolutely! Would I recommend it to someone else to
see? Yes. In all, I thought the story was good and entertaining, the
special effects were top notch, and the sound was magnificent. I don’t
have any complaints on the movie with the exception of the
zombie/vampires, I thought they were too unrealistic and they reminded
me too much of the zombies from 28 Days and 28 Weeks later. Other than
that, I have no complaints, go see it!
Matthew Haumschild 14.01.2008
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