Thoughts on I Am Legend (warning! spoilers)


A couple weeks ago, Josh (a coworker) sent me an email with some of his views about I Am Legend. I thought they were pretty interesting and so I wanted to post them here along with some thought of my own in an effort to provoke even more discussion and find out what others may have thought of the film. I held off a while to give more people a chance to see the movie, but if you still haven't had a chance to see it yet, you might want to skip this post or come back later.

Josh's email to me (edited for relevancy):
I'm getting really sick and tired of movies that not only use one brand of vehicle throughout, but go out of their way to shoot the vehicles so they look glamorous and wonderful. I just watched 15 minutes of commercials, I don't need more in the movie. Is this where Hollywood is now? Aren't there any directors out there who refuse to do blatant product placement? Would the great directors of yesteryear do this? Would Hitchcock or Welles?

In this movie, every car driven is a Ford. The first 10 minutes of the movie are a Ford commercial, and a kind of stupid one at that but I'll get to that in a minute. Both trucks shown later in the movie are Ford's. There's a shot toward the end of the movie that basically starts centered and zoomed in on the blue oval and zooms out from there.

Do you notice things like this or is it just me? It doesn't so much piss me off that Ford is doing this. What pisses me off, is the director sacrificing his integrity and selling out like that. It seriously detracts from the movie for me.

If you are going to go this far to sell out, why not go all the way. In this case, I would have put a line in for Will Smith to say when he finds the Mustang and says: "Oh yeah... Ford's all the way baby! Have you driven a Ford lately?" or something...

I give the movie a netflix 3-star "Liked it" rating, with means it was "eh" and frustrating at times but worth watching. It's one of my favorite premises so that helped. I loved 28 Days Later (but hated 28 Weeks Later)

I thought the CGI characters in the movie detracted from it. I really think the 'scary' vampire things would have been more scary had they actually been played by... actors. A novel idea I know. They made the typical hollywood scary-thing-scream sounds and looked like Gollum in a tool video. Can't the sound people in hollywood make a non-Lord of the Rings sound for scary things?

Empty New York looked great and there were some little touches they made in the environment that I thoroughly enjoyed. I loved that he had THE painting of Van Gogh's Starry Night hanging in his place and other famous paintings around in his apartment, like he rescued/stole them from the museum.

Okay, things I didn't get, like, or understand:

1. The Dark-Whatever-They-Called-Them thing ripping through the ceiling on the inside of his house. Why was he doing that? Was it to let the other ones in? or was he trying to get out?

2. why, Why, WHY would they have Will 'hunting' with the mustang? And what the hell was he trying to do? Run them over? That part was STOOOOOOOOPID. Obviously, he didn't catch any. Not the Prince's 'freshest' idea. It was obviously just a part of the movie to show of the mustang, which... never made another appearance.

3. Why were there deer on the island in the first place? did they swim? I can let this one go I guess...

4. How did latina chica (who's accent got stronger as the movie went on) get from Manhattan to Vermont in that Ford truck, when they blew up all the bridges?

5. The shiny Ford truck she was driving was obviously a different one then Will was trying to kill himself in right? So if that's true, you mean to tell me, that this chick, found and mounted a FREAKING safari rack on the top and stocked it full of survival gear? Riiiiiiiight.

6. So Will had electricity, yet at the beginning they showed Honda (I guess Ford doesn't make generators) generators in his kitchen powering stuff. Were they powering the entire house? Puh-lease... And there's no way there's still be power, without humans. Or WATER for that matter. But, i guess I can let that go too...

7. Don't you think they should have shown that Will had wired Enola- Gay sized bombs up all over the front yard of his house? I was kind of like "Where did that come from?"

8. When Latina Chica saved Will from the Dark-whatever-they-called- thems, how did she do it? Why didn't they show that? She apparently used a "Sun Spell" and was also able to move 200 lb Will Smith, all by herself into her car (apparently the tricked out Ford that was identical to Will's)

Argh! So frustrating!

My response email:
Very nice review. I like your thought. I'm am especially with you on the all the product placement in movies lately. It's completely lame. One of the worst ones I've seen lately was in Fantastic Four - Rise of the Silver Surfer. Mr. Fantastic summons his new flying machine via remote control and when it gets to them it has Dodge logos emblazoned on the seats. Then Johnny Flame boy (whatever his name is) looks at Mr. Fantastic and asks, "Hemi?" To which Mr. Fantastic replies, "Of course." This one little scene kinda ruined the whole movie for me. We're supposed to believe that a super-brilliant scientist uses the same engine to power his ultra-cool flying machine that Dodge uses to power their cars? Right! Car engines easily transform into better-than-jet engines.

As for all the other things about I Am Legend, I guess I was so caught up in being disappointed in how it didn't live up to the book that I forgot to notice all the reasons that it failed on its own (though I did think that trying to hunt from a mustang was one of the stupidest things I've ever seen).

My thoughts on the deer getting on the island as well as the woman getting off the island is that they must have gone through one of the many tunnels. I know they blew up the bridges, but they never said anything about the tunnels. I think you could effectively barricade a tunnel without having to blow it up, but then once most everyone died, the few survivors could have removed the barricades. In one scene they even showed the deer running into a tunnel (or maybe it was the subway--I don't remember). Of course, if it was tunnels, that then begs the question, "Aren't they controlled by the zombie things since it would be dark?" Who knows?

The other thing is that is wasn't just deer. Where the hell did the lions come from? Did they escape the zoo or something? Last time I checked, New York isn't exactly lion country. Is there a zoo in New York? Did they get this movie confused with Night at the Museum? (Note: After sending this email, I did check if there's a zoo on the island--there are three, but as far as I could find, none of them have lions.)

At the end, why didn't Will get in the safe, throw the grenade out right as the dark things broke the glass and then close the safe door? There was room for him in there, and grenades have a timed detonation so it would have worked. I guess he was just too dumb to think of that and then he wouldn't have been a "Legend."

Also, if he loved his dog so much, why not strap it down and keep testing on it like the dark-chick, or put it in a cage like one of the rats. Nope, gotta kill the dog at the first sign of monsterism so that Will's left all alone and the audience feels sorry for him.

The movie definitely had some problems, but I still liked it. Mostly cause I liked seeing empty new york--even if a few things looked super cg-ed (like any wide shots of the mustang driving around) and I like Will Smith.

Anyway, sorry for the long response. You should read the book. I'd like to get your thoughts on that.

So, what do you think? Do you agree with Josh and I? Did you like the movie? Were there other things we missed? Have you read the book? Thoughts on that? If anyone ever reads my blog again after I went postless so long, I'd like your opinions.

Linda Winegar

My greatest blessings call me Mom.