THIS CONTAINS SPOILERS TO THE FILM. IF YOU INTEND TO SEE THE FILM DON’T READ THIS YET. READ IT AFTERWARDS.
I initially watched I am Legend and though, ho hum, a remake of The Omega Man. Then after thinking about it and trying to make sense of some parts I completely changed my mind and now think it’s extremely ingeneous.
It’s a film in which Will Smith appears to be the sole survivor of a world in which 90% of the population had died and the rest have devolved into some sort of retarded vampires. This is all because of one British scientist who finds a cure for cancer and released it into the wild. For some reason, which I don’t think is explained, it went wrong, some deaths were involved, some new species of vampires with the same IQ as a postman are created.
First off the scenes of New York all deserted and overgrown is extremely well done. Very odd hearing crickets as a city’s ambient sound and not traffic and alarms. Very cool. Will Smith basically plays himself as usual, I would have liked to see someone like William H. Macy play this role but unfortunately I was not consulted during the casting process. Anyhoo, Mr Smith is some sort of army doctor trying to find a cure for the retard vampires. I am guessing they are at least cured of cancer.
We see in flashbacks that the city is evacuated over Christmas, oh sorry should that be ‘The Holidays’? This makes the city creepier and must have a more profound effect if you are there on your lonesome. More people commit suicide over Christmas, mostly people on there own. It’s often said that it would be hell to have Christmas every day, imagine having it every day on your own. Which brings me to a big point. He has been surviving for 3 years in this empty city, nobody to talk too. He has a dog who he treats like a child and he talks to manikins at his local DVD rental store, one he calls Fred. He is going mad, he is miserable, he is depressed, he is suicidal.
Yes suicidal. Why do I say that? Well who left Fred, the manikin, as bait in that snare trap? Retard Vampire? Another Survivor? Perhaps it was Fred mutated by the cancer cure? No it has to be Mr Smith. He made exactly the same trap to capture a retard vampire earlier in the film. He has had enough, he is schizophrenic, he wants out.
After this failed suicide his dog gets infected, it’s his fault. He kills his dog to save it becoming a cancer free blood sucking hound of Dracula (Aside, do Dogs get cancer? I recently found out cats get Aids so I guess anything goes). Oh dear, now it really is a bad day. So he goes out that night and decided to take out a few more bad guys in a fit of rage. I think when he crashes the car he dies. Nobody comes to rescue him. Everything post of that moment is his imagination. The girl & boy are just his subconscious trying to cheer him up. His wife and daughter, it is implied, are killed in a helicopter accident when they try to flee the city. By saving this woman and child I guess he is somehow making up for that.
I mean, what are the chances that this woman is hanging around the pier at night, when the monsters come out. OK it is explained that he has some radio message going out saying he will be at that point every day at midday. ‘I am broadcasting on all AM frequencies’ he says. Hum, Don’t think that’s possible, all of them? And in a purely pedantic point, what’s the point of saying that? If you are listening to AM you will hear him and know he is on AM, if you where listening on FM you would not hear this top tip. Well I did say he was mad. Back to the point, you would not hang around after dark, you would come back tomorrow in the sunshine when it’s safe and when this person says he will be there. Also this woman has a butterfly tattoo on her neck. In one of the flashbacks Mr Smiths daughter is talking about butterflies. To me it’s Blade Runner and unicorns all over again.
He dies alone in his SUV. End of story. He does not find a cure, there is no woman to save him, no magical oasis of civilization for her to deliver the cure too. Nice going British lady doctor.
As I said, when I first saw the film I though nice up to a point, ending predictably Hollywood. After thinking about it a bit I have come to the conclusion that it’s much darker. There is no happy ending. Perhaps the director is being very clever. The viewing public demands a happy ending and they think they got one. Perhaps in a few years there will be a directors cut that ends on the upturned SUV, Just like Blade Runner ending at the lift doors closing.