I Am Legend

Release Date: December 14, 2007

Movie of the Day for Thursday, November 15, 2007
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They hate Michael Vick.

On the Big Board
Position Staff In Brief
26/46 Les Winan Smith is great and the first half is a terrific mediation on life alone, but the second half of the movie doesn't fit. There was no need for an action finish.
26/94 Shane Jenkins Great first half. The second half is rushed and falters a little.
28/48 Kim Hollis While I like the film and recommend it to others (on IMAX), it is not a movie I will ever want to see again.
44/214 Max Braden Too loud, to the point of just shock value, though it does make you jump. The cgi is mediocre and looks copied from I, Robot.

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“My name is Robert Neville. I am a survivor living in New York City. I am broadcasting on all AM frequencies. If you are out there...if anyone is out there, please..."

What if you were the last person alive, the last remaining vestige of a deceased race, stalked by unknown creatures who want to finish off the last of your species? Such is the premise of I Am Legend, the 1954 literary masterpiece by Richard Matheson. The novel tells the story of Robert Neville, the only known survivor of an apocalyptic virus.

During the day, Neville forages for food and supplies in abandoned stores throughout the land, while at night, he attempts to survive against what he believes to be vampires of legend. Oddly, they fear him much more than he fears them, however, creating a fascinating juxtaposition of storytelling. Over time, the last living man comes to realize the hidden nature of his sworn enemies, and it is much more horrifying than even the idea of living in a world of vampires. Finally, hope arrives in the form of a beautiful woman he believes is just as healthy as him. Together, they could re-populate the species and build the human race anew. But alas, she is harboring a deep secret of her own…

In 1964, macabre actor Vincent Price took on the lead role of Dr. Robert Morgan in The Last Man on Earth, the first theatrical adaptation of the novel. Considered one of his lesser works at the time, the title has found secondary life on the home video market due to an odd combination of reasons. The first is that it is widely considered to be the inspiration for the undead works of George Romero. The other is that it fell into the public domain, allowing would-be distributors to skirt copyright laws and include it in various Best of Vincent Price packages.

The much better known adaptation of I Am Legend occurred in 1971. Man’s man/gun nut Charlton Heston was 47 at the time of the movie’s release, but he was still plenty capable of portraying a bad-ass scourge of the undead in The Omega Man. The film varied from the novel in that the enemies were led by a charismatic creature called Matthias and they were an organized group called The Family. Matthias and Heston’s character - named Dr. Robert Neville, a combination of the book and the first movie adaptation - were at war from the start of the movie. The only two sub-plots in The Omega Man are Neville meeting a hot vampiress who was not as affected by the disease as others and his attempts to create a serum to counter the effects of the virulent strain.

Much more of an action flick than Price’s psychological horror film, The Omega Man is the living definition of a cult hit. Over 35 years after the fact, many movie buffs (myself included) consider it to have held up remarkably well. Approximately ten years ago, Academy Award-nominated director Ridley Scott attempted to create an update of I Am Legend starring current California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, but budget concerns undid the project before it ever got out of pre-production. The rumored budget of $108 million was not quite Titanic-level, but it was certainly a massive upfront cost for the year of 1997. Given the current trend in movies, the constant attempts to perfect cinematic apocalypses, the time is right for another adaptation of I Am Legend.

Enter Will Smith.

Sony’s go-to movie star for the past several years has signed on to frontline this Warner Bros. production. He will portray scientist (but apparently not doctor) Robert Neville, the last evolutionary link between mankind and the species that has replaced our kind. Sci-Fi Channel hit Eureka co-star Salli Richardson has been cast in the role of his deceased wife, with Alice Braga (Anjelica from 2002’s City of God) cast as Anna, which is rumored to be a similar character to the one Rosalind Cash portrayed in The Omega Man. Similarly, the wonderfully named Paradox Pollack has a role as Alpha, a descriptive title I have to believe ties back to the Matthias part from The Omega Man. Of course, at this stage, the specifics of the 2007 update of I Am Legend are still unknown, so I could be wrong on both counts.

Under any circumstance, I Am Legend is scheduled for release in December in 2007 and appears to be one of the biggest productions remaining for the year. Will Smith is as close to guaranteed box office as there is in the industry since Tom Cruise went couch jumping. If he can turn a straightforward drama like The Pursuit of Happyness into a $162 million blockbuster, the sky’s the limit for an apocalyptic sci-fi/horror title…as long as he doesn’t battle any robotic spiders. (David Mumpower/BOP)

Vital statistics for I Am Legend
Main Cast Will Smith, Alice Braga, Salli Richardson-Whitfield
Supporting Cast Willow Smith, Charlie Tahan
Director Francis Lawrence
Screenwriter Mark Protosevich, Akiva Goldsman
Distributor Warner Bros.
Trailer Click Here for Trailer
Official Site http://www.iamlegend.com/
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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