I was really looking forward to seeing "I Am Legend", from the moment I found out earlier this year. In preparation to seeing the movie, I watched Vincent Price in "The Last Man on Earth" and Charlton Heston in "The Omega Man". Even though the main ideas of the two prior versions were the same (last man, virus, night creatures, etc.), the delivery varied for their particular time. So I was intrigued to see how the storyline would be adapted to our time.
The first thing that struck me was the set. Growing up in New York City, it really hit me hard to see the devastation and isolation of the city that "Never Sleeps". The streets, the abandoned cars, the bridges, the U.N.,etc. It really hit home. Then we see a much slender, leaner Will Smith trying to cope with the fact that he was alone. His portrayal of Robert Neville is great. Very moving. I find the origin of the virus quite interesting as it comes as a side effect for a cure for cancer. The prior two movies used a plague (The Last Man on Earth) and germ warfare (The Omega Man) to explain the virus. The use of a cure that transforms into a virus gives it an ironic twist.
The film opens well, and continues that way until the introduction of the other two human characters, but that's about an hour or more of Smith, alone in Manhattan after a genetically-altered version of the measles has either killed or mutated the rest of humanity into super-violent creatures who prey on those unaffected, but only at night. They're killed almost instantly when exposed to sunlight. Smith, playing Robert Neville, was an Army Lieutenant before the virus was unleashed three years prior, and he spends his lonely days walking and stalking on the grown-in streets of Manhattan with his dog, Sam. At night, he locks himself in his apartment and attempts to find a cure. It's interesting seeing Smith carry the movie with only himself, Sam, some various wild animal species, and some mannequins. He does an excellent job, and I'm sure that's not an easy task for an actor. This is easily the most likable character he's ever played, and he brings a lot of great stuff to it, including humor and a scene that had me on the verge of tears.
Will Smith and the strength of the story outweigh the two mot glaringly bad things about this film. However, the creature effects are WAY too over-reliant on CGI, but then again, so are most horror films these days, so you might be used to it. Animatronics and foam rubber latex effects pioneered well over thirty years ago look a lot more believable than this cartoonish junk. And the other thing is the ending. It's not terrible, and it won't make you dislike the rest of the film, but the original story's ending is very sad and ironic, and this, like the other two adaptations, just can't seem to cope with the magnitude of the situation, so they always leave you with something WAY to hopeful for what we've seen throughout the rest of the film, and also, it seems that they're afraid to teach you the incredible lesson the original Matheson story had to offer. This is a good adaptation of Richard Matheson's 'I Am Legend.' So far, none of the three have nailed it, due to the inability to just use the story's ending, but this one comes close and is certainly one of the best of the three (the other two are good flicks so I recommend them all).