I Am Legend

Lucifer Benway reviews I Am Legend, dir. Francis Lawrence, in the Key 23 archive.

You know the drill. Will Smith in the supposedly truest to the book version of the novel I Am Legend. Made in the 60s as a vehicle for Vincent Price to pine for his dead wife (Last Man on Earth) and in the 70s with Charlton Heston being camp as all get out (Omega Man). In this one, Will Smith is an Army Lt. Col. who worked on the virus that’s turned human beings into zombie / vampire creatures or meat. Riding around in flashy cars with his German shepherd and hunting elk in the streets of New York, Smith is surprisingly convincing. Carrying a picture by oneself is a difficult chore to say the least and for a guy who started out rapping about getting grounded and dressing like Punky Brewster, Smith turns out a far better than workmanlike performance.

The Good: Creepy zombies, good cinematography, killer tracking shots of the deserted city, and more “last man on earth” fantasies than you can shake a stick at.

The Bad: He’s got running water, which is kind of weird but once you go down that route, the nuclear power plants would have exploded. Also, a bit of a downer.

The Bottom Line: Seeing Will Smith being that intense with graying hair is a bit emotionally jarring, but this is a symphony on film. Minimal blood and gore, maximum terror.