Rating: The Good – 70.8 Genre: Science Fiction Duration: 101 mins Director: Francis Lawrence Stars: Will Smith, Alice Braga
Francis Lawrence’s take on Richard Matheson’s novella is a worthy addition to the sci-fi genre. Robert Neville (Will Smith) is the last man left in New York City after a genetically engineered virus either killed off the rest of the population or turned them into rabid cannibals. Like the earlier adaptation Omega Man, this film gives us a different type of mutant to the book (in the book they turned into vampires and were much more sinister in their methods) but unlike that film these mutants are far more scary. The production design involved in bringing the desolate New York to life is impressive and Lawrence creates some extremely tense scenes culminating in some genuinely terrifying moments. In this task, he is ably helped by his lead. As the only actor on show for long segments, Smith needed to bring presence to the role and he does it with ease giving us just the right balance between toughness and vulnerability. There are some minor issues such as the fact that the mutants managed to lose all pieces of clothing except their pants and the ending skirts the boundaries of cheesiness but for the most part, I am Legend is first class sci-fi/horror entertainment.
Rating: The Ugly – 64.3 Genre: Science Fiction, Horror Duration: 98 mins Director: Boris Sagal Stars: Charlton Heston, Anthony Zerbe, Rosalind Cash
Matheson’s seminal novel “I am Legend” sees Charlton Heston playing the seemingly sole human survivor of a plague which either killed everyone else or turned them into deformed nocturnal fruit cakes. Free to roam the empty city by day, he is besieged at night time by a group of mutants organised by the mutant leader Matthias (in a deliciously over the top turn by Anthony Zerbe). First off, this film has dated drastically in terms of the mutants’ makeup. Not only are they not scary but it’s difficult to see how they’re anything but scarred, light sensitive, and pale skinned humans. In which case, Heston’s character Neville, who spends his days exterminating them, comes across as a homicidal maniac. They also refer to Neville as “him of the wheel” (in a reference of disgust to the technology that brought this plague upon them) as they wheel up a catapult to destroy him. However, despite these issues, this is still really enjoyable. Sure, it’s of its time but that seems to make it all the more atmospheric. Moreover, Heston was always great in these roles and he carries the film on his square shoulders with ease and plenty of personality. The production design is fairly impressive too in so far as the film quite realistically brings the deserted LA of the story to life. The Omega Man is not as slick as the more recent Will Smith film, it’s not as dark as the earlier Vincent Price driven adaptation The Last Man on Earth, nor is it as sinister as the book itself but it’s a decent effort all the same.