December 14, 2007

I Am Legend

In 2001, I discovered the "novella" I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. It completely blew me away -- I remember sitting on my couch all weekend, totally glued to the pages. It instantly became one of my favorite books.

When I heard they were making a new movie version of it, I felt as much worry as excitement, if not more. Hollywood seems to want to ruin everything we hold dear these days. When I heard they'd be using "virus-infected people" instead of vampires, I was even more worried. When I heard Will Smith would be playing Robert Neville, it was like adding insult to injury. I've never been a big Will Smith fan - I thought it was the worst casting decision of all time. I suddenly imagined a Hollywoodized comedy-adventure filled with slo-mo action shots and wise-cracks up the wazoo. And these past few days, I've been seeing early reviews pop up online... Most of them have been negative.

Going into the theater tonight, I was fully prepared to be disappointed.

Turns out..
I. Loved. This. Movie.

Yes, there are things to nitpick. Yes, the ending is very different from the book. Yes, the CGI creatures look a bit too fakey/cheesy at times. But I'll tell ya... this movie has so much character and so much emotion, the minor complaints I had weren't even worth a second thought. For the first time in a long time, I found myself just ENJOYING a movie. Not sitting there dissecting it like some critic on a mission... I just enjoyed it. After a year of mostly disappointing movies (in my opinion), I'm so glad The Mist and I Am Legend came out this month. I feel like I've been yanked out of a movie depression.

I'll admit, I do wish they would've had the daring to go with the book's ending. It's very Twilight Zoney, and for a little while, I kinda thought they might stay true to it... But, that said, I thought the movie's ending was fine. I really do. I didn't leave the theater feeling angry that it was changed. It was an alternate ending.

As for Will Smith, all I can say is this: In the course of an hour and a half, I went from disliking him to thinking he should win an Oscar. He was amazing.

Did I just say that? Yes, I did.

This movie is freaking awesome. I give it the highest possible recommendation. :)