Posts Tagged ‘I Am Legend’


October 27, 2008


You can say a lot of things about illegal downloads; that they constitute theft, that they ruin the entertainment industries, that they weaken the cultural effect of movies and music – but one criticism that can’t be levelled at them is that they don’t half save you from paying good money to watch utter shit.

If I’d paid £7 to watch Hancock at the cinema, for example, or handed over £4 to rent the DVD and subsequently watched this tower of crap, I would have been angry and upset. As it stands, with a bittorrent at my fingertips, I was left with no resentment towards the filmmakers or cinema – just a sense of guilt and regret and a new found resolution to not give my time up so willingly in the future.

Will Smith is Hancock, an alcoholic superhero who is more of a hazard than a help. Flying drunkenly around the city he destroys pretty much everything he comes into contact with and costing the city millions of dollars in damages. So far so good.

He saves the life of charity PR man Jason Bateman who then sets about restoring his image and making him a better superhero. Also so far so good. He goes to jail voluntarily and returns as a reformed man, and begins to do battle with uber-villain Eddie Marsan. Equally so far so good.

That’s half the movie and it’s pretty good – not great, but pretty good; Will Smith isn’t exactly a bastard but he’s kind of fun, the story is pretty interesting and there’s some good jokes and action to keep you involved. Jason Bateman doesn’t come close to the highs of Arrested Development, but as anyone who’s a fan of that show will know that just having him onscreen is a pleasure.

At this point you’re enjoying the movie and all is well. Then they do something*; something that some people may call a ‘daring plot twist’ and others may refer to as a ‘brave story development’ but that I will simply describe as a ‘rubbish and stupid contrivance that utterly ruins the movie’.

Suddenly everything changes; characters are forgotten, storylines abandoned, the rules of the world alter and you find all your interest and curiosity dropped instantly. The film becomes about something else and changes tone, almost as if Bryan Singer were replaced by Brett Ratner half way through shooting. It becomes really boring.

Much like with Will Smith’s last rubbish movie – I Am Legend – everything starts out well and then turns shockingly bad. Does he no longer read scripts all the way through, or is it a deal with the studio where the first part can be all moody and slow as long as the second can be loud and stupid?

What makes this film so bad is not that the two halves are that terrible – they’re not – it’s that together they count each other out. That you enjoyed the first half is forgotten by the end of the second, so annoyed you are at the instant switch that occurs. All the goodwill and fine work thus far is obliterated by the silly story.

And so it ends. By this point I was playing with the cat and my lady was doing the washing up. I have no idea what the point was, just that I know I’ll never get that time back – but thank god I didn’t pay for it.


*Want to know what happens that makes it all stupid? Highlight the text below.

It turns out that Hancock has amnesia and forgot that Jason Batemans wife is actually his wife who is also a superhero and his greatest weakness because they are actually 3,000 year old gods who were built as a pair but lose their powers when they’re together and they have to team up quickly to fight Eddie Marsan who has inexplicably learned all of this whilst in prison and is trying to kill people in a hospital he is killed and they must part to keep their powers and so Hancock flies to the moon to print Jason Batemans charity logo on it and thus save the world through the power of branding.

I Am Legend

January 27, 2008

Vaguely spoilerish in places

The opening scene of I Am Legend is brilliant, absolutely brilliant. In spooky American-TV-o’vision you get a faux news clip featuring an uncredited Emma Thompson as a scientist who claims to have cured cancer. She explains how she has evolved the idea of inoculation to use the ravaging effects of the cancer disease to her advantage, how she has reversed the traits of the virus and has created a seemingly foolproof counter to mankind’s greatest killer – and then the screen goes black. It’s an amazing opening. Chilling, dramatic and unnerving, it immediately presents you with a terrific sense of foreboding and despair as you know that this great leap forward can only end badly…

And it does, for when we fade back in we are in a desolate and empty New York City… Times Square has become abandoned and overgrown, the bright lights have faded and died, cars are let to rust and there is an eerie silence that is rarely heard in even the vow-silenced monestary. Something has gone quite horribly wrong. Like I say, it’s a brilliant opening.

Will Smith plays Will Smith. Well, he doesn’t. He plays Will Smith being somebody else with a different name, but he’s quite clearly Will Smith. There are moments when he tries really hard not to be Will Smith, and those moments are sometimes good, but even then you can’t help but think “wow, look how well Will Smith is pretending not to be Will Smith. That must mean he’s a really good actor.” Luckily I like Will Smith, so I enjoyed his pretending and thought it great that he was pretending so hard.

Where was I? Oh yes. So Will Smith is pretending to be a viral biologist army man, which is really useful as he was in charge of New York before everything went wrong AND is the only person in the world who is immune to the virus… think about that for a second! The only person in the world! And he is overwhelmingly qualified to sort it out! That is so lucky for Will Smith! You see, the virus killed most of the world and turned the rest into pigmented albino ‘dark seekers;’ a kind of litigation denying vampire that is medically explainable in it’s aversion to sunlight and while Will Smith has the rule of the roost in daylight, they control the night-time where they run amok and generally eat anything that moves.

So Will Smith is the last human being on Earth. All he once knew has gone and been replaced with CGI; there’s CGI animals, and CGI devastation, and CGI zombies, and CGI cars, and CGI spinning helicopters and CGI people and so much goddamned CGI (even his favourite movie – Shrek – is CGI) that you really begin to empathise with his characters solitude as it must be lonely living on a fucking greenscreen.

By day he hunts CGI deer, and by night he hides from CGI zombies in the bathroom, clinging to his beloved dog Sam (who, in a late developing twist you discover is really a Samantha and just about the biggest surprise in the film – after all, you couldn’t have Will Smith’s emotional support a male character – that’d be too gay).

After about 45 minutes of really hard pretending not to see the CGI, the zombies suddenly overcome all their previously attributed characteristics and start attacking Will Smith. This is ludicrous for several reasons; that they look like the hilariously bad CGI Scorpion King from The Mummy Returns and are totally unscary, that they make traps and cunning plans while supposedly feral and having lost “all traces of being human” and the audience was kind of digging the slow vibe and this has totally lost their attention. The zombies are the worst thing in this movie, a needless CGI interference that tears you out of whatever zen state you were in. These lithe, athletic, sprightly shadows are a laughable foe and totally undermine whatever serious levels of pretending the filmmakers were going for.

Will Smith fights CGI for a while longer, then his dog dies and a couple of Jesus freaks turn up and try to convince him of a settlement colony, then Will Smith denies God – which is like, a whole new level of pretending because to pretend to not believe in God is, like, an indication of HOW FAR his character has fallen… then another inexplicable plot points kicks in and the general murmuring that was in the cinema before becomes a chorus of “WHAT?” as the ending suddenly happens and there’s this overwhelming sense of disappointment.

As you check the credits, you see that Emma Thompson isn’t there. Then you realise that she knows, like you now do, that her part was the best bit and to be associated with any other part would be a discredit.

This film was first kicked into production in 1995. It has gone though numerous big name producers, writers, directors and stars – including Michael Bay, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ridley Scott and the Oscar winning Akiva Goldsman. After 12 years and that much talent this is the best they can come up with. I Am Legend? I Am Bollocks, more like.