I Am Legend
Directed by Francis Lawrence (PG-13)
A scientist is the only human to survive a virus that has wiped out all mankind.
I Am Legend can’t figure out whether it’s “speculative fiction or a B-movie horror show,” said Kirk Honeycutt in The Hollywood Reporter. Director Francis Lawrence offers up yet another retelling of Richard Matheson’s novel from 1954. The post-apocalyptic tale that inspired 1964’s The Last Man on Earth and 1971’s The Omega Man here gets a modern-day makeover. Will Smith plays Robert Neville, a military virologist who is the lone survivor of a virus that has destroyed most of mankind and caused serious mutations among the survivors. During the day, he soldiers through a desolate Manhattan in search of a cure. Come night, he hunts vampiric humans. Unfortunately, Lawrence relies heavily on CGI and motion-capture technology, which turns a “serious epic” into a mere monster movie. He’s certainly a master of the technology, though, said Scott Foundas in The Village Voice. His best shots are slow, sprawling, nearly silent takes of Manhattan that convey the emptiness and loneliness of Neville’s existence. Lawrence knows how “to magnify the human dimension of a movie instead of extinguish it.” It helps when Will Smith is that human, said Andrew Stuttaford in The New York Sun. This performance confirms his status as one of today’s great leading men, and makes this version “easily the best” yet.