In Cast Away it was Tom Hanks and Wilson the volleyball; in I Am Legend, we have Will Smith and a dog named Samantha. Both films deal with a similar problem of an isolated man trying desperately to get out of their surroundings, find help and discover another human being but in I Am Legend, it’s far deadlier.
Unlike Hanks, he isn’t cast away on an island; instead Smith’s military scientist Dr. Robert Neville is most likely the sole human survivor from a catastrophic biochemical plague-like disease that ravaged mankind three years earlier in 2009. The biochemically engineered treatment which Natasha Richardson explains in a brief opening clip took a radical approach to curing cancer by re-engineering measles and after thousands of people found their cancer vanishing, it was deemed a miracle… that is, until the brutal side effects were revealed which found those infected far more aggressive, shedding their hair in a chilling metamorphosis from man to a zombie-like beast without a trace of humanity. Moreover, they began destroying one another at such a rapid rate that the government quarantined New York to try and secure citizens.
Undeniably grim but highly compelling thanks to the charismatic and heartbreaking portrayal by Smith who’s able to embody a wide range of emotions in a single scene with little to no dialogue, I Am Legend is the latest adaptation of the 1954 science fiction novel of the same name by writer Richard Matheson. While there are some definite logical problems that challenge the audience’s ability to suspend their already stretched disbelief even further, there are also some horrifying moments that had me baffled when I learned that not only was it only PG-13 but also available to horror fans as an IMAX experience.