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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

I Am Legend (review)

Not With a Bang…

It’s the end of the world as we know it — again — but Hollywood’s emphasis is horrifically, hauntingly different for this movie outing. There are no invading aliens blowing up our cities and landmarks, no mushroom clouds, none of the usual markers we’ve come to expect from the cinematic apocalypse. There is, instead, nothing. No noise — the world without us, without humans, is bone-chilingly quiet. No people: we don’t know for quite a while what the hell has happened to turn New York City so distressingly desolate. There aren’t even any corpses littering the streets, like we might expect were an almost inescapably virulent bug to cut a wide swathe through humanity, as it is hinted early in the film is the case. There is only Robert Neville, alone in the vastness of New York, and his German shepherd, Sam.
The British film 28 Days Later touched on the eerie wretchedness of a world abandoned by humanity with its opening sequence of empty, silent London — other similarities to that film will crop up later — but I Am Legend is, for much of its running time, one long, lonely riff on the plight of the sole survivor. This is based, of course, on Richard Matheson’s seminal 1954 science fiction novel of the same name, with significant deviations (more than the 1964 movie adaptation The Last Man on Earth, but fewer than 1971’s The Omega Man), but both book and this new film share the emphasis of the story’s first half: psychological and actual isolation. It’s a science fiction spin on Cast Away: Tom Hanks’ plane-crash survivor knew the whole world of six billion people was still out there waiting for him to return, but Neville has been alone in New York for three years, and his regular daily radio broadcast pleading for other survivors to make themselves known has gone unanswered. For all he knows, he is the last person alive on the planet.

It is magnificently disturbing. Director Francis Lawrence has made only a single prior feature film, 2005’s Constantine (which I’m in a minority in actually liking), but here he gives us a masterful rendering of a city stripped of its soul. He shot in unfakeable real Manhattan locations dressed both up and down: buildings are draped in quarantine plastic; streets are broken up with weeds; some cars are still placidly parked along city streets but others choke highway escape routes near bridges and tunnels. Most pathetically, Christmas wreaths and decorations still festoon the city: the plague struck in the middle of the holiday season, and ran its course so quickly that it’s as if everyone just up and left the city, the collapse happened that fast. You want to sob to see so vibrant a place now so barren of life and spirit. There isn’t even a soundtrack: Lawrence eschews a musical score for his apocalypse. There is no sound in this NYC except what Neville makes himself.

And then there’s Will Smith (The Pursuit of Happyness, Hitch). He plays Neville like a man pushing to keep himself too busy to have a breakdown. He’s moving systemically through the city, rummaging apartment by apartment for anything useful. He’s working his way alphabetically through the DVD store, watching everything — three years into his forced seclusion, he’s somewhere in the G’s. When he stops to talk to the mannequins he’s set up in some of his usual haunts, to be able to pretend that he’s not impossibly alone, is when Smith breaks your heart and turns Legend into something far more than a simple horror movie: Smith’s everyman charm really is “everyman” here. He is all of us, any of us, in the worst situation imaginable.

The few flashbacks to the beginning of the end — the scenes of the attempts to evacuate Manhattan are intense, as awful any New Yorker has well imagined would be the case in the event of a real catastrophe — only underscore Neville’s plight: he was a military doctor, we learn then, and he was involved in trying to find a cure. (My one minor quibble with the film is this: What are the odds that someone not a random bystander to the plague would be perhaps the only one to be immune? We never get a satisfying workaround for that.) He’s still working, in the fortified basement laboratory of his fortified Washington Sqaure townhouse, searching for a vaccine for the virus.

Why? Did I say there was no sound in NYC except what Neville makes himself? Well, I won’t spoil anything for those unfamiliar with Matheson’s novel, but when Neville shuts up house for the night, he turns the place into a fortress complete with steel shutters on the windows. For there is something out there in the dark, and it makes a terrible, hungry noise…

The world is over. Herds of deer have the run of Park Avenue. The ghosts of the old world speak from Neville’s generator-powered iPod and DVR, but they are only ghosts. He is squeezed between those ghosts and their legacy screaming in the dark, and I Am Legend puts us right the dreadul middle of that squeeze. It’s an enthralling — if not entirely pleasant — experience.

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MPAA: rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
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  • allochthon

    How scary is it, wrt gore and such? I really want to see it, but was scarred by walking into Se7en unprepared, so now I’m gun-shy.

  • I’ve heard that the ending of the original novel has been changed, again, in this movie, possibly diluting the power and meaning of the phrase “I am legend.” If so, that’s disappointing. Hopefully if that’s the case, whatever ending the movie has instead will still make sense.

  • Drave

    I actually really dug Constantine as well. In spite of the studio-enforced Americanizing and Keanu-izing of the character, it felt remarkably true to the comic. Also, it was a compelling story with interesting special effects, and it didn’t dumb down or explain everything.

  • Benson

    I am Legend has a cool contest over at godstilllovesus.org. It’s some kind of photoshop thing but you could win a macbook pro.

  • Drave

    That is one of the most poorly designed promotional sites I have ever seen. I can’t believe WB paid money for it.

  • Gloria

    If it’s anything like the novel, I can’t imagine that much gore.

  • Drave

    I stand corrected. It’s not a promo site. (At least as far as I can tell.) That comment was just spam. It’s still annoying. If I have to actually spend 5-10 minutes trying to find what the contest itself is, somebody somewhere has failed.

  • Benson, you are right about the “god still loves us” campaign – it’s a photoshop contest and been mostly under the radar. While the rest of the marketing of the movie has been ubiquitous.

    The phrase is in the movie and spurred lots of dialogue about it. Time Warner sponsored the contest and it’s discussion the meaning of the film.

    I also heard the changed the ending – I hope it’s a great movie. I love the book!

    http://www.filmplug.com/blog/2007/12/god_still_loves_i_am_legend.html

  • MaryAnn

    The phrase is in the movie and spurred lots of dialogue about it.

    The phrase is in the movie, but “lots of dialogue” is a stretch, in the extreme.

    The movie is not very gory, and yes, the ending is different from the book, but the character is still legend, though in a different way.

  • Chris

    Mary,

    I am sad to hear that the ending has been changed as thats what made the book so great to me. I also would ask does he go around and destroy the vampires in the book, and do some of the vampires actually know who he is?

    Chris

  • MaryAnn

    Again, a reminder: please warn before you spoil something in a movie we’re discussing. I would have hoped it would be clear from my review that I was trying not to reveal what else was living in New York.

    To answer your questions, they’re not really very vampiric, the creatures don’t seem to know who he is, and he does hunt them, but not as in the book.

  • Jason

    Seriously … with the spoilers =/

  • Krow

    Yawn… another virus/zombie/end-of-the-world flick… yawn. How many times is this tired plot going to get trotted out? Is there a limit? Please… for X-mas I want that… an end to this kind of movie. Where’s the writer’s strike when we need it? In the name of originality I demand a moratorium. Please baby please…

  • JT

    SPOILERS

    I thought this was incredibly effective and fascinating for the first hour or so. Will Smith was terrific and the scene after Sam dies, when he attacks the ‘dark seekers’ was well done. I didn’t even notice the supposedly terrible CGI that people are talking about.

    And then the movie fell apart. Anna saved Neville at night. If she believed that there is really a survivor’s colony in Vermont, she would have woken him up at dawn and explained the situation to him. Instead they’re eating bacon and eggs and thinking ‘It’s too late to go today, we’ll just stay another night. No worries. I mean, it’s not like there are monsters trying to kill us or anything as soon as it’s dark.’

    If that’s not bad enough, the dialogue in the last third begins to sound ludicrous. The Shrek scene has no place in the film, and the Bob Marley scene is understandable given the theme, but it could have been less heavy-handed. I also thought the film was really short and anti-climactic. We didn’t spend nearly enough time with Anna for me to care much about her being saved. If they were intent on ‘handing over’ the first-person narration so to speak, it could’ve been less rushed. Such potential, wasted.

  • littlem

    I loved Constantine too — at least, this director’s version of it.

    Enthralling”, ma petite, not “e-thralling”.

    Get some sleep.

  • pit_viper

    I love “Constantime.” I think Keanu is low-grade brilliant as usual and as usual is overlooked; the scene where he wearily picks up the cat to go to hell or L.A. or…wherever…brilliant.

    Also, I am totally behind any movie that features Tilda Swinton in bondage workout togs. Just sayin.’ Hot fucking damn.

  • Spoiler-free mini review:

    Very good movie. Deserted New York was extremely well-executed. Loved the scenes between Neville and the dog (the dog should be nominated for an award). Some of the best acting I’ve seen from Will Smith ever. But very, very disappointed in one particular aspect of the movie which has been debated quite a bit (if you’ve read the book, you will know what I am talking about).

    I’d still recommend the movie to anyone who likes post-apocalyptic action flicks.

  • MaryAnn

    Yawn… another virus/zombie/end-of-the-world flick… yawn. How many times is this tired plot going to get trotted out?

    When it’s this effective, what’s the problem?

    Where’s the writer’s strike when we need it?

    It’s going on right now.

    I mean, it’s not like there are monsters trying to kill us or anything as soon as it’s dark.

    But the monsters are *always* out there in the dark, and it must be clear to Anna that Neville’s house is a fortress. Seems like a good place to hole up and make plans.

  • MaryAnn

    “Enthralling”, ma petite, not “e-thralling”.

    Fixed. Thanks.

    Get some sleep.

    Man, I just can’t win, can I? I get people bitching at me to hurry up and review whatever movie they’re waiting for me to review, and now I’ve got people telling me to get some sleep. Make up your minds, people…

  • Branden

    The ended did feel very abrupt to me, and a little disappointing. I did love everything leading up to it though.

    The scene with Sam in his arms especially, very moving.

  • Signal30

    VAGUE SPOILERS:

    Being a fan of Matheson’s novella, I’m surprised that I came out of this as relieved as I did… that they didn’t completely mess it all up.

    Of course it helps when you approach it as a decamped remake of The Omega Man, and not as an adaptation of the original story.

    I could have done without the awkward way they tried to tie the title of the flick with the Bob Marley bit, the whole God trip towards the end and the piss-poor CGI mutants… but for what it was, not bad.

  • Pascal

    SPOILERS

    As I gather, symptoms for the virus include: a cartoonishly exaggerated mouth, super-human strength, acrobatic skills, the ability to crawl on ceilings, and a roar that could not possibly resonate within a human vocal tract. Plus, you can repeatedly throw yourself against shatter-resistant glass without drawing an ounce of blood or cracking your skull like a melon (I guess the virus makes bones super hard, too). Oh, and you always know where the camera is so you can roar into it on occasion.

    As for the ending… does anyone believe that one grenade would really do the trick?

    I actually enjoyed the movie. Will Smith was solid and the depiction of the loneliness of the “last man on Earth” was spot on. However, the CG zombies was near sacrilege, and other flaws cited above make this movie a single-viewing only for me.

  • Chris

    Mary,

    Having seen the movie and read the book I must say I was dissapointed. While I will give props to Smith for holding the movie together, the third act is just to major of a let down to say that this is a great adaptation. It seemed that they the produces wanted to easy out, to give big Willie the happy ending we all want, but the book is not about happy endings, it’s about a man surviving and the birth of a new world. I think if Matheson was still alive he would not approve of the end result of this movie.

  • Ide Cyan

    Richard Matheson *is* still alive.

  • Signal30

    … and rolling in his gravy.

  • MaryAnn

    Mmmm, gravy…

  • amanohyo

    Forget rolling, I’ll be happy if I can suck gravy through a straw at 81… wait, that’s actually sounds kinda difficult. Seriously though, I can’t believe he’s been publishing stories for over fifty years.

  • MBI

    I sure liked this movie.

    Or at least, you know, the GOOD half of the movie.

    You understand what I mean.

  • MaryAnn

    The ending is not as strong as it could be. But the first two-thirds of the film are so potent that it doesn’t matter. And it’s not too often that that’s the case — usually a less-than-satisfying ending sinks a film. But not here.

  • Derrick

    this is just a complete random comment on the movie.
    please comment on this if you agree or felt the same way, but as you know in the movie Will has a love for Bob Marley and it takes a great deal in the story as his sign of peace.
    Well do you think possibly that that was added because of the title name, “I Am Legend.”
    hence “Legend”

    Bob Marley’s greatest selling record which was pointed out by Will in the movie was also called “Legend”

    Now, i know that they didn’t just make up the name, but the idea of addding Bob Marley may have come to them?

    agree?

  • Nathan

    (there are always POSSIBLE SPOILERS on internet message boards.)

    Derrick:

    well, they couldn’t go with the orignal story because it would make test-audiences all sad and depressed and disappointed, so i think the writers/filmmakers were most likely scrambling for a reason why the Will Smith character would be considered a “legend” and someone said, “Hey, isn’t there a Bob Marley album called Legend?”

    “Yeah, that’s great! We can use that.”

    “What song? No Woman, No Cry?”

    “Ah, no.”

    “Buffalo Soldier?”

    “Hmmm. No.”

    “Well, how about that ‘every ting going be alright’ song?”

    “Yeah, that’s it. Just the right ironic touch. Then we’ll write some crap about how he is a legend because he discovers the cure at the last minute right before he meets his redemptive end at the hands of the meth-addict Gollums.”

  • MaryAnn

    they couldn’t go with the orignal story because it would make test-audiences all sad and depressed and disappointed

    Frank Darabont got away with a downer of an ending with *The Mist*…

  • Signal30

    The Mist has also only pulled 25 million BO in the month since it opened…

  • MaryAnn

    That may be, but test audiences and focus groups and the desires of studio executives regarding a movie’s ending are a different issue entirely.

  • Nathan

    the budget of The Mist was less than $20m. the marketing of I Am Legend might have cost more than that. (maybe Ford Motor Company picked up the tab.) there’s no way that a big-budget Will Smith vehicle is going to have a “bad” ending. (SPOILER) what should have been dark and visionary and thought-provoking turned into just another CGI monster-fest with a red-state ending complete with para-military people, a church, and a border fence.

    i wanted to like this movie, and i did for about a third of the way through, but it just went so wrong…

  • Pedro

    Upon first viewing the trailer, my family thought this was a silly action movie. My sister even had the comment: “it’s a movie with CG deer, for Chrissakes!”. Having watched the whole thing, i have to say that the trailer makes it look much stupider than it actually is.
    I watched a dire, piss-poor bootleg copy, but even in such dire condition, the quality of the movie still shines through. It’s a story that keeps threatening to become silly, but never does.
    The first 2/3 of the movie are great. Smith roaming about, left pretty much to himself, with barely any dialogue and the awesome absurdity of using a petrol platform to putt drives makes for a great viewing experience. This part of the movie really sucks you in, making you the second-to-last man on Earth as you follow Smith around a deserted, eerie NYC. And when the dog died, i thought i could cry.
    The final part of the movie – after Smith is discovered by the remaining survivors and they battle the Infected – keeps threatening to become your average pedestrian, silly zombie-flick, but somehow it avoids that pratfall. This is no Resident Evil – this is the psychological thriller at its best. What a great movie!

  • MaryAnn

    I watched a dire, piss-poor bootleg copy

    Why?

  • Capetonian

    MINIMAL SPOILAGE:

    Why are people complaining about the unrealistically rendered cgi creatures? How do you realistically render something that you’re unable to know how they would be in real life? You could use real people, but one of the scariest scenes in the movie is watching the way the female creature in the lab’s chest move up and down as she breathed, which could not have been done with a real person. The cgi made the monsters look scary by giving them an unhuman quality.

  • Pedro

    Because i bought a bootleg DVD so i could own it. but i didn’t know how bad the copy was until i got home. all my other bootlegs are fine.

  • Pedro

    oh, and did i mention the dog was THE best actor in the movie??

  • MaryAnn

    How do you realistically render something that you’re unable to know how they would be in real life?

    The creatures are close to human, yet they don’t look like it. That’s a problem.

    Because i bought a bootleg DVD so i could own it. but i didn’t know how bad the copy was until i got home. all my other bootlegs are fine.

    *bangs head on desk* All your other bootlegs are fine? Why do you buy bootlegged copies of movies you can see legitimately? It’s not like *I Am Legend* didn’t open all over the planet. Do you not believe you should support the artists and companies who produce the movies you enjoy? Did you subsequently buy a ticket to a theater screening? Will you buy a legal DVD when they become available?

  • Capetonian

    Pedro, I’d like to see you get malled by one of those dogs from the movie. Here in Cape Town the movie opened on 27 December and bootlegs was already available, yet I made it a point to go watch it on half price Tuesday in a Dolby Digital cinema with the volume cranked up! It’s just that kind of movie. I’m curious to know if you’re from the US or in a country where it opened later.

    It’s people like you that make me nervous about being an aspiring screenwriter and working in the film industry. While writing I’m left paranoid wondering if there’ll be an audience when I’m done, if they’re just going to bootleg the damn movie and be done with it. It’s not necessarily an I am legend big screen blockbuster, which makes it more likely to be pirated.

    I don’t want to DAMN WORK AT MCDONALDS!!! Is there hope???

  • Pedro

    calm down, guys and girl.

    i bought the bootleg because in portugaL – where i’m from – you have to buy three bootleg movies, and i wanted to watch tropa de elite, which DID NOT open in the theater. subsequently, i bought that, plus legend and american gangster.

    i MIGHT get the legal copy once it’s available. i DO tend to watch movies in the theater (although nowadays i’m short of time). and i endure ridicule from friends who have watched the movie online and downloaded it when i am still talking about the trailer.

    bottom line: i KNOW it’s illegal. i don’t plan to become a bootlegger. i own four bootleg DVD’s and about 15 to 20 legal ones (apart from legal VHS tapes). so calm down, i’m not the scourge of the industry. LOL

    that said, i found a few minor points of note:

    a – the year is supposed to be 2009/2012, yet the cars look suspiciously like 2007 models (i suppose, in five years, technology didn’t advance as much, and people still have older cars, so that’s OK).

    b – for tenements abandoned for three years, the stores still look clean, dust- and mice-free. (my sister said maybe Neville cleans them in his free time?)

    c – the food found in the apartments (the “actual spam” and such) must have a reeeeealllly long “best before” date.

    any comments?

  • MaryAnn

    i KNOW it’s illegal. i don’t plan to become a bootlegger. i own four bootleg DVD’s and about 15 to 20 legal ones (apart from legal VHS tapes). so calm down, i’m not the scourge of the industry.

    Multiple by millions, and yeah, you’re part of the problem. It’s not about downloading (which I think tends to be done by people who will still see a movie legitimately or where never going to anyone) but about the fact that you’re PAYING bootleggers when you should be paying the people who made the movie.

    a – the year is supposed to be 2009/2012, yet the cars look suspiciously like 2007 models (i suppose, in five years, technology didn’t advance as much, and people still have older cars, so that’s OK).

    Plus, you have to consider that no new cars have been produced since 2009. 2007 cars look “suspiciously” like 2005 cars — cars just don’t change that much in two years.

    b – for tenements abandoned for three years, the stores still look clean, dust- and mice-free. (my sister said maybe Neville cleans them in his free time?)

    The only store we see is the video store, which Neville clearly has done some work on (the mannequins didn’t walk in there on their own).

    c – the food found in the apartments (the “actual spam” and such) must have a reeeeealllly long “best before” date.

    Canned food will last a looong time, long past its “best before” date, as long as the can is intact.

  • Capetonian

    “…and i endure ridicule from friends who have watched the movie online and downloaded it when i am still talking about the trailer…”

    That’s just a cop out for people who aren’t real movie fans, who just jump on the bandwagon when the latest hot thing comes out.

    I know you said you have originals, which is good, but how about we start a new trend. How about we tell those friends exactly what MaryAnn said: Even though I can buy bootlegs or get it for free, I want to support the artists and companies who produce the movies I enjoy. Wise words. She’s not just a pretty face.

    Let’s start a trend!

  • Pedro

    nice one, Capetonian. i personally try to go and watch a movie i’m interested in (or buy it. whatever.) sometimes i watch it on youtube, but it’s not exactly the same, is it?

    but i think we should also tell universal pictures to put out the elite troop movie so that we DIDN’T have to buy the bootleg OR watch it online.

    and this bootleg thing HAS been a one-off thing (well, two-off actually, but you get the picture).

    by the way, MaryAnn, what if a friend “rips” a DVD of his to give a copy to you? is that illegal, too? i tend to do that with music CD’s when my friends want to hear them. i don’t sell ’em though – i give them away. and i own the originals. am i breaking the law?

  • Pedro: That’s less illegal than selling, but still illegal. You could get in trouble that way. Although, let’s be honest, these industries are getting ridiculous. The RIAA now says that they can sue people who buy CD’s and copy the music onto their own computers for their personal use. What a load.

  • MaryAnn

    but i think we should also tell universal pictures to put out the elite troop movie so that we DIDN’T have to buy the bootleg OR watch it online.

    Yes. I agree. It’s one thing to download something to watch when it’s the only way it’s available to you — I’ve done that, but then I also support whatever it is by buying a DVD and/or viewing it when it becomes available in other ways.

    But that’s not what started this conversation. You bought a bootleg from a pirate when you could have seen the movie in a theater. If you’d merely had downloaded it, that would still be illegal, but at least you wouldn’t have given money to some third party who had absolutely nothing to do with producing the movie, and who shouldn’t profit from it.

    by the way, MaryAnn, what if a friend “rips” a DVD of his to give a copy to you? is that illegal, too?

    Yes, it is. I buy CDs of the music I want to listen to because I want to pay the artists who make it.

    i tend to do that with music CD’s when my friends want to hear them. i don’t sell ’em though – i give them away. and i own the originals. am i breaking the law?

    Yes, you are. But it’s not that I care that you’re breaking the law per se — it’s that you’re not supporting the artists who make the movies or the music that you enjoy. Why aren’t your friends paying for the music they like? How long do you think people can keeping “giving away” things that aren’t theirs to give before the artists who made the art are no longer able to make a living at it?

  • Capetonian

    I hate to sound like a pessimist, but the long term prospects look bleak and without salvation. Pedro’s situation is but one out of millions around the world. The only true victory for artists against piracy is the fans. The TRUE fans. I couldn’t care less about the people who don’t truly appreciate art and therefore opt for bootlegs. They can continue. We wouldn’t make money from them anyway. It’s when the fans opt for bootlegs that I start feeling like Robert Neville.

    It seems worse here in South Africa. At least the US still has a very healthy box office and DVD sales. The entire run of a movie like Titanic was the equivalent of 1.4 million US dollars, and that was in ’97 before bootlegs were available on almost every street corner.

    The dream of foreign movies sharing a significant slice of the American market will probably always remain a dream. It breaks my heart that movies that don’t have American characters, dialogue and stories don’t feel very welcome there, whereas abroad we salivate to see movies like I am legend. If I am legend had to be transfered scene for scene exactly as it is to another city in the world with a foreign lead, would it have made $70 million plus in it’s opening weekend? Please!

    I would love to be proved wrong someday.

  • MaryAnn

    It breaks my heart that movies that don’t have American characters, dialogue and stories don’t feel very welcome there,

    It breaks my heart, too, that this is the case, and that it seems to say that many of my fellow countrymen are closeminded, self-centered, and utterly incurious about the rest of the world. I’m sure people aren’t any more stupid here than they are across the rest of the planet, but I don’t know how we got to be so comfortably ignorant.

  • “It breaks my heart, too, that this is the case, and that it seems to say that many of my fellow countrymen are closeminded, self-centered, and utterly incurious about the rest of the world.”

    That may be true, but it may also be a chicken-and-egg scenario. Studios aren’t willing to take a gamble bringing foreign movies over en masse because people supposedly don’t want to see them, but maybe the only reason they aren’t interested in seeing foreign movies is because they’ve never been exposed to them in the first place. I remember when Spirited Away came out- I had to drive thirty or forty miles to the one arthouse theater that was playing it. Then it won the Best Animated Feature Oscar, and theaters gave it a second run that was slightly wider but still not long enough for many people to see it. Yes, the anime style was different than many people were used to, but the story was easily accessible. I’m convinced that, had Disney marketed it right, they could have had as many ticket sales as with any of their domestic features.

  • Moe

    Hopefully The Orphanage will show people movies made half a world away can still be great and just as enjoyable as any $150 million dollar summer event flick.

    Now, if we could just get rid of that ridiculous mindset some people have of hating subtitles because they have to read and prefer ridiculous Jackie Chan-type dubbing (which ruins the actors performance by the way) over it, then we’d be well on our way.

  • MaryAnn

    Don’t most Hollywood movies get dubbed when they go overseas? That could contribute to their success — maybe most people all over the world don’t like reading subtitles…

  • Pedro

    Out of maybe 300 CD’s i own, maybe less than 50 are CD-R.

    A friend of mine says he gets new CD’s and movies off the internet, then if he likes it he buys the originals.

    i do too, if they’re cheap. but they’re less cheap everyday – 20 euros (30 dollars) for the average CD and/or DVD is pretty steep, wouldn’t you say? but yes, i tend to support the artists, particularly the little ones – even my mp3 are 90% composed of legal ones that are available in smaller bands’ sites.

    as a metal fan, i tend to support the underground, which is something people who listen to dance music or processed pop won’t do, usually. those are the people that bootleg entire CD’s and movies, too.

    but seriously, does Time Warner need any more money??

    as for subtitles, people here in portugal tend to like everything dubbed. disney movies and kids’ movies are for the most part dubbed for the kids. but people in their teens and 20’s – my generation – are veering toward original rather than dubbed versions, mostly because the dubbings are invariably terrible (exception being disney movies, which use portuguese celeb voices, but they still pale in comparison to the originals.)

  • Pedro

    oh and some more minor gripes:

    a – if there are Infected in the dark alley during the day, how come none of them hide in the shady corners of the video store?

    b – after will smith breaks – or at least twists – his ankle – HOW DOES HE DRIVE HOME AFTERWARDS!!??

    c – where does the rest of neville’s food – the eggs and the veggies for the dog and all that – actually come from? what does he do when they, you know, END?

    d – if the cars just sit out there all day, how come they don’t rust? similarly, how come wooden furniture and floors on houses don’t rot or get termites? (in the baby’s room everything looks brand-new, apart from the cover of dust overlaying them).

    it may just be nitpicking, but still…

  • but seriously, does Time Warner need any more money??

    Not the point. As Masahiro Matsumoto says in Black Rain, theft is theft. There is no grey area. This is not food, clothing, or shelter we’re talking about here, folks: It’s music and movies and computer software… hardly anything essential to survival and certainly nothing you can justify stealing. If you can’t get it legitimately, either go without or find some way (via imports, maybe) to get it that doesn’t involve stealing or downloading it.

    I’m not trying to sound preachy, but too many people justify stealing IP (intellectual property) because there’s no physicality involved: It’s just bits. But the point is that someone created those bits and they have the absolute right to get paid for them… and any deal they have with a record company or movie studio is none of our collective business.

  • MaryAnn

    a – if there are Infected in the dark alley during the day, how come none of them hide in the shady corners of the video store?

    Because they’ve lost the capacity to reason, so they don’t understand they could do this. When the sun comes, all they know is to retreat to the deep dark places they know are safe.

    b – after will smith breaks – or at least twists – his ankle – HOW DOES HE DRIVE HOME AFTERWARDS!!??

    On a blast of adrenaline, which can get you through pain… though he would have paid for it later with even more pain.

    c – where does the rest of neville’s food – the eggs and the veggies for the dog and all that – actually come from? what does he do when they, you know, END?

    Powdered eggs. Canned veggies. All gross, true, but if that’s all you had to eat, you’d eat it, and so would your dog.

    d – if the cars just sit out there all day, how come they don’t rust? similarly, how come wooden furniture and floors on houses don’t rot or get termites? (in the baby’s room everything looks brand-new, apart from the cover of dust overlaying them).

    It’s been only three years. Right at this moment I’m looking at cars older than that that look completely rust free. There’s not a lot of metal panels on newer cars, anyway: they’re plastic, and they don’t rust. Modern cars don’t rust in visible places. My 10-year-old Saturn looked as new as the day I drove it off the dealer’s lot when I sold it a few years back, and it was exposed to the elements all the time: it was never regularly garaged.

    Do you have any wooden furniture in your house? Is any of it more than three years old? Has it rotten away yet?

    I starting to suspect that you’re either pulling our collective legs, Pedro, or else you’re a sentient computer program loose on the Internet who has no experience of the corporeal world.

  • Pedro

    Neither, actually. But i will concede to being only 22 and therefore not having much experience of surviving on my own (which explains how i didn’t know about the food).

    But i HAVE seen abandoned tenements – shops and garages and such – where the furniture is decrepit. mine hasn’t rotted yet, but it doesn’t look brand new either. and i look after it, clean it and dust it and so on. now imagine i didn’t. it would at least start to peel away. add to that water infiltration, humidity and decay and you get rotting furniture.

    or does it never rain in NYC?

    same with your car. it probably looked new because you looked after it (same with my family’s 16-year-old jeep). but if you just left it there, and rain fell on it, the outer shell would start to rust (unless, as you said, it was plastic).

    all other points taken and accepted.

  • Capetonian

    This may or may not be a spoiler, I’m not sure:

    It’s interesting to note that in previous version of the script by Mark Protosevich the creatures actually spoke and behaved more like uninfected humans, albeit more tribal, with scenes of them beating drums and chanting.

    There it was more about taking revenge on Neville for killing so many of their kind, and they succeed in capturing him by sending an uninfected young woman, also called Anna, into his house as a trojan horse. He’s taken to their underground lair where other humans are being kept prisoner so that the colony of creatures can feed on their blood.

    Neville’s also not a scientist but a history professor so their’s no attempt to even find a cure.

    This may have been the storyline from the book. Maybe someone can clarify since I haven’t read the book.

  • Capetonian, that’s much closer to the original storyline from the book. The “vampires” are not mindless at all, but still remember how to speak and reason, and they try to lure Neville out of his home (with the promise of sex with the females). And they’re not superhuman, either, although the bacillus that causes vampirism does give them extra strength (IIRC). Neville in the book does not seek to cure them, but he does do a little scientific investigation to figure out why they are susceptible to sunlight, garlic, and (in some cases) crosses.

    So it sounds like Protosevich was trying to do the right thing by the original story. I imagine that Akiva Goldsman is responsible for changing the ending and otherwise screwing up the classic story.

  • MaryAnn

    same with your car. it probably looked new because you looked after it (same with my family’s 16-year-old jeep). but if you just left it there, and rain fell on it, the outer shell would start to rust (unless, as you said, it was plastic).

    Looked after my car? Well, sure, maintenance and the like. But I never waxed it — how many people really wax their cars? — and I can count on one hand the number of times I actually took it through a car wash.

    I just don’t think three years would be long enough to cause any hugely major damage *everywhere.* And we don’t see Neville going everywhere. Presumably, he’s focusing his foraging on those buildings that are more intact that others.

  • Pedro

    good points, MaryAnn.

    but my family’s car has NEVER been waxed and as for washing…once, after we had to trek through mud and it was filthy…and we’ve had it for maybe 9 years…at least 9 years.

    and it’s in good shape.

    but you’re probably right. about the buildings/houses, anyway. i still think that if a car was left out in the rain and shine for three years it would present some degree of decay.

    i agree with you on all other counts. i guess i was just trying to find something to nit-pick about – it’s a fault i have :p

    anyway, keep up the good work!

  • Moe

    “Don’t most Hollywood movies get dubbed when they go overseas?”

    I spent May and June in Dubia and all the hollywood movies i saw were subtitled. I’m pretty sure only the CGI-Pixar type cartooons are dubbed, not live action films.

  • WriterGuy

    “I Am Legend” might just be one of the greatest cinematic let-downs and prestigious achievements I have seen in my lifetime (between Spider-Man 3, it’s a close call). When I walked out of the theater, I was left breathless for a number of reasons:

    1) Contrary to most critics (I’m not sure about you, MaryAnn) I believe that the ending to “I Am Legend” was well-timed and adequately executed. It definently left me thinking, and reminded me of the ending to “War of the Worlds.”

    2) “I Am Legend’s” hair-raising moments do not come from the Night Seeker scenes, which are banal and trite, but from the sheer remoteness of New York and Neville’s seclusion from society. This sort of bugged me in the end, because I was expecting quite the opposite.

    SPOILERS
    3) At first, Neville’s attempts to hold a one-man conversation with his dog seem awkward, but it’s not until the moment in which Sam gets infected that it hits me: I truly care about this friendship, between dog and man. Mark and Akiva (screenplay writers) carefully crafted the story line so that this bond would be strengthened throughout the movie, and when we hit the climax (the loss of Neville’s only companion) the aftershock would be jarring not only to the crowd, but to our main protagonist, who begins to grow half-mad and progressively gets suicidal. And that’s when Anna and Ethan come to the rescue.

    4) And that’s when things REALLY turn sour. Let’s use the scene where Neville, Anna, and Ethan are eating breakfast as an example. Robert Neville is so confined within his own little world that he can’t open up to the idea that there could be other survivors, and slams his plate from the table; in doing so, he makes the remark, “Man, I was saving that bacon.” How can we laugh at such a comment when there is a tension pulsating in the air, one that whispers the fact that every second counts? The Shrek scene had the same feel to it, as well as the scene where Neville and Anna are debating over there being a god. They just don’t seem to fit into place.

    Overall, “I Am Legend” is a mixed bag. But the feeling it will give you when you finish watching it…spine-chilling. Solitude is one of the most bloodcurdling aspects of a film, and “I Am Legend” proves just how powerful it can be.

  • MaryAnn

    Who says we’re supposed to laugh at the bacon line?

    I think Neville is so used to being alone, and had been so resigned to it, that the sudden arrival of people deals him a shock that it takes a while for him to recover from. Also: He knows he has a place of safety — it’s easy to understand why he wouldn’t want to leave that on the basis of mere rumor (and an unlikely sounding one, at that). I don’t think there’s a sense that “every second counts,” particularly when (at first, before that place of safety has been compromised) there’s no reason why they can’t wait another day, or three, or more, before embarking on their road trip.

    The movie could have been a lot braver and more daring if no one else had ever shown up, but given that they do,

  • Robert

    Saw this last night. I assume that if anyone’s read this far in the commnents, they must have seen the spoilers already.

    I’m surprised that some found the CGI to be substandard. Seemed at least on par with I’ve seen so far. It lent a character to the mutants that you’d never achieve with live actors and traditional makeup. I recall the mutants from The Omega Man seeming pretty cheesy – as did the “they’ve turned into Druids” premise.

    I thought they did an excellent job of showing the desolateness of the situation.

    I had issues with a few elements. Following the dog into the mutant’s lair seemed a bit improbable but did provide a chilling moment when he encountered the mutants. I would have written it differently – had them end up in the lair accidentally somehow. Could have had the exact same outcome – i.e. desperate flight to escape, seeing one of them fried in the sunlight.

    The mutants supposedly lost the capacity to reason but set a trap for Neville? Or for that matter, that he was clearly the target of a vendetta – which requires some level of reasoning. And clearly they understand that sunlight=death.

    As others have mentioned, the business of Anna “being told by God” of the survivor’s colony…in Vermont..seemed silly, and not just because I’m an atheist. Did God sound like Pepperidge Farms pitchman Parker Fennelly? Aye-yah. There are certainly plausible ways she could have learned of it. I’m always a bit put off by smuggling in religious themes into movies, by default it introduces an element of irrationality.

    I would have liked to see the female mutant get farther along with her cure. I can’t help but think the ending could have gone a whole different direction. I’ve never read the original story so don’t know how it went there.

    Interesting that after that much time had elapsed and the way they existed much of their clothing remained intact, particularly that which covered their naughty bits.

    On the issue of piracy of music, there are various issues that make it hard to generate a lot of sympathy for the major record companies – and I say this as an aspiring songwriter.

    It’s interesting to note that it’s one of the few products for which you can’t get a refund if you find the product lacking.

    As far as file sharing, they’ve failed to demonstrate that it actually costs them anything. They only lose revenue if those doing the filesharing would have otherwise bought the album.

    As far as cheating anyone, the finger can much more readily pointed at the record companies themselves who are always looking for new and innovative ways to shortchange songwriters on royalties, murky accounting practices which can affect what an artist is paid.

    How about Sony and their “Rootkit” debacle? They didn’t think twice about loading your computer with malware without your consent. Ironically, this so-called anti-piracy software is accused of being in violation of software copyrights.

    Hey MA, you’re not going to review The Hottie And The Nottie? ;-)

  • Robert

    Oh yeah, doesn’t blood have to be refrigerated when transported to remain viable?

  • MaryAnn

    On the issue of piracy of music, there are various issues that make it hard to generate a lot of sympathy for the major record companies

    I don’t think anyone is sympathetic toward the major record labels.

    Hey MA, you’re not going to review The Hottie And The Nottie? ;-)

    Nope.

  • Just because people are not sympathetic toward the major record labels doesn’t mean it’s OK to steal music, or movies, or software, or any other IP. Whether you think they are overcharging for their product is irrelevant; if you don’t like the price and you choose not to buy it, that doesn’t mean you get to take it anyway.

    I don’t like that Audi charges $100K for an Audi R8, but that doesn’t mean it’s OK for me to go steal one off the lot and leave them a check for $25K. You either buy it, or you go without. If you don’t like their business model, you are free to complain about it, but you can’t justify doing an end-run around it.

    As a producer of intellectual property, MaryAnn, I would think you’d be less forgiving of people stealing IP without compensating the producers at the rate they request, either on their own or through the proxy of their representation.

  • MaryAnn

    Just because people are not sympathetic toward the major record labels doesn’t mean it’s OK to steal music, or movies, or software, or any other IP

    I did not say it was! Sympathy toward record companies has nothing to do with whether or not it’s okay to steal music. A lack of sympathy toward the record companies is part of siding with the artists, who are very frequently ripped off by the labels. But stealing from a thief is still stealing, and I have never, ever suggested otherwise.

    As a producer of intellectual property, MaryAnn, I would think you’d be less forgiving of people stealing IP without compensating the producers at the rate they request, either on their own or through the proxy of their representation.

    WHAT?! In what way have I been forgiving of those who steal intellectual property? In this thread alone I rail against it! Did you actually read anything I wrote here?

  • Robert

    Clayj say:

    Just because people are not sympathetic toward the major record labels doesn’t mean it’s OK to steal music, or movies, or software, or any other IP.

    If you’re referring to my message, I never said it was okay to steal, however it also doesn’t change that the major labels engage in some shady practices themselves.

    While I’m no bleeding heart liberal, I’m not crazy about some behemoth corporation suing low income single parents for large sums of money because their idiot kid is downloading music. It doesn’t seem implausible that some woman who’s working two jobs to pay the bills isn’t technologically savvy and aware of what’s what with the internet.

    Particularly when RIAA rationale for doing so isn’t even sound. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that official RIAA statements on the matter are a bunch of b.s. They reference layoffs, reduced revenue and try to blame it on file sharing and utterly ignore the role of the practices of the labels themselves.

    Did you know that it was once illegal to privately possess video tape copies of tv shows? What changed that was a landmark case involving actor Roddy McDowell. His house was raided, property confiscated, etc.

    In the past they’ve tried to strongarm mom & pop record stores to prevent them from selling used CD’s. Not bootlegs but genuine, original copies. I haven’t followed the details but apparently it got shot down because such places are still around and you can buy them online through various vendors.

    Last I heard, RIAA lawyers were attempting to get a wedge in the door of declaring making and storing .mp3 copies of any sort illegal, whether you’re sharing them or not.

    How about if the Men In Black come knocking on your door if you’re having a pool party and playing CD’s?

    As a producer of intellectual property, MaryAnn, I would think you’d be less forgiving of people stealing IP without compensating the producers

    I don’t see where she condoned stealing. In fact she said just the opposite:

    I buy CDs of the music I want to listen to because I want to pay the artists who make it….Why aren’t your friends paying for the music they like? How long do you think people can keeping “giving away” things that aren’t theirs to give before the artists who made the art are no longer able to make a living at it?

  • MaryAnn, sorry I missed what you said about piracy. In my defense, it was almost halfway up a 100-post thread that’s been going on for a couple of months now (and yes, at some point I’m sure I read it… it was a while back, though).

  • Robert

    Btw, how does he know the dog is “still immune from the airborne version of the pathogen but not from the contact version” other than because it’s in the script as a way to smuggle in this info to the viewing audience?

  • MaryAnn

    If the dog was not immune to the airborne version, the dog would have caught it. Right?

  • Robert

    If the dog was not immune to the airborne version, the dog would have caught it. Right?

    But how would he know the dog *isn’t* immune to the contact version?

  • MaryAnn

    Because no dogs are immune to it.

  • Miguel

    Didn’t the Christmas decorations in an abandoned city remind you of the underrated and amazing 12 MONKEYS? a different take on the effects of a deadly virus.

    The CGI infected people reminded me of the robots in I, robot. It’s mostly because of the elongated faces, the mouth and the nose, and also the way they jump and move in general. am I the only one who found this resemblance?

  • Robert

    Per MAJ:

    Because no dogs are immune to it.

    Was that specified in the dialogue somewhere? Why would he need to mention – is “still” not immune to the contact version?

    I still wonder how he would know? He had no communication with other survivors. He was the only immune human who survived in NYC, maybe other dogs were immune but were killed.

    Were lions and deer supposed to be immune? They never showed any of them infected. Surely they’d be attacked at some point.

    -yes I know I’m analyzing this to death- ;-)

    Per Miguel:

    …am I the only one who found this resemblance?

    The alpha mutant made me think of an amped-up Henry Rollins. Not a huge fan, but I’ve seen his Berzerker-rocker routine.

  • MaryAnn

    Was that specified in the dialogue somewhere?

    I can’t remember, but there are definitely posters around the city from the early plague days about when it was okay to walk uninfected dogs.

    I still wonder how he would know? He had no communication with other survivors. He was the only immune human who survived in NYC, maybe other dogs were immune but were killed.

    Perhaps, but that’s so unlikely that the only immune human (or so he appears to believe he is) would own the only immune dog. Dogs were immune to the airborne virus, and were not immune to the contact virus. One dog appears to be left, and she has not yet caught the airborne virus, so she must continue to be immune to it. The only way to check to see if the dog is not immune to the contact virus would be to expose the dog to it, and that would be a foolish chance to take, don’t you think?

  • Robert

    Perhaps, but that’s so unlikely that the only immune human (or so he appears to believe he is) would own the only immune dog.

    As I recall, he didn’t believe he was the only immune human, he was the only one left in NYC who hadn’t been killed by the mutants, and only hoped that there were others elsewhere. Remember him angrily driving the “there is no God” point home to Anna, about how they had all been killed? “Everyone you know is dead…” etc.

    I can’t remember, but there are definitely posters around the city from the early plague days about when it was okay to walk uninfected dogs.

    I didn’t catch the posters but was under the impression that the disease took hold so quickly that there wouldn’t be any question about walking infected dogs – Sam turned into a snarling beast within a very short time after being bitten.

    The only way to check to see if the dog is not immune to the contact virus would be to expose the dog to it, and that would be a foolish chance to take, don’t you think?

    Well, that’s basically my point. It’s not something he could test. It seemed like a pointless bit of exposition strictly to advise the audience of this factoid about dog immunity.

  • MaryAnn

    I guess I’m just not seeing the problem you’re seeing…

  • I think the problem stems from Neville making a definitive statement such as Sam being “still not immune to the contact version”. There is no way he could know this unless Sam was exposed to it, and changed (which is eventually what happened). My guess is that this line was inserted to inform us that there are two forms of the KV virus, airborne and contact, and that they didn’t think through the logic of why Neville would say that or even if it would be technically correct.

  • Robert

    This just off the wire from MAJ:

    I guess I’m just not seeing the problem you’re seeing…

    I’m sure I can find it in my heart to forgive you. ;-)

    Clayj say:

    My guess is that this line was inserted to inform us that there are two forms of the KV virus, airborne and contact, and that they didn’t think through the logic of why Neville would say that or even if it would be technically correct

    Exactly my point.

  • boz

    I watched original ending or “alternate ending” today. It is way better than theatrical ending.

    http://www.firstshowing.net/2008/03/05/must-watch-i-am-legends-original-ending-this-is-amazing/

    you should check it out, if you haven’t already :)

  • Holy smokes. That ending is a thousand times better than the one we saw in theatres.

    Why, oh why couldn’t they have gone with this ending in the first place?

  • boz

    “Why, oh why couldn’t they have gone with this ending in the first place?”

    two words: no church :)

  • Robert

    Haven’t watched the alternate (original?) ending yet, but another thought that occurred to me – were MAJ’s feminist sensibilities at all tweaked when it was revealed that “Sam” was “Samantha”? A device obviously meant to play off the notion that a female injured or in peril is going to garner more sympathy than a male. I don’t recall them specifying the dog’s gender before that.

  • Robert

    Okay, saw the alternate ending. Interesting, but not sure I see it as greatly more profound or logical than the original. I got it off YouTube since the video didn’t work on the original link but I saw some of the commentary.

    Apparently the story line is very different in the book – Neville hunts the mutants to kill them instead of dedicating his life to attempting to find a cure? Given this, I’m not sure how this ending makes the film “more true” to the original since so many other elements are so fundamentally different.

  • boz

    in theatrical ending, neville is a hero. in original ending he is a monster. he kidnaps and experiments on them, lots of them. you can see pictures on the wall.

  • Right. Neville was a monster. He basically was Josef Mengele, grabbing vampires and experimenting on them while they were still alive in order to find a cure that they did not want.

    See, it’s all a matter of perspective. When you’re one man and you’re surrounded by millions of formerly-human creatures, what you see as good is seen by them as evil. In the book, one of them gives him the chance to kill himself before he is tortured to death for the murders he’s committed.

    This new ending is better than the contrived Hollywood BS ending we got in the theatrical release because it shows, finally, that what Neville is doing is not right… at least, from the creatures’ perspective. In that way, it’s similar to the novel. The ending we saw in theatres showed Neville as a hero, a “legend” who found a cure for the KV plague and sacrificed his life to get the cure to someone who might be able to use it. But Neville is really not meant to be a hero… and that’s why the novel’s original ending, and the new movie ending we’ve just seen, have never been used.

  • MaryAnn

    The studio didn’t run with that ending because it might make people in the mainstream audience wonder whether their perspective isn’t automatically the right one.

    On the other hand, are we wrong to consider Neville a hero when he has found a way to eliminate a threat with which it does not appear possible to coexist?

    I guess it’s all a matter of, you know, perspective. :->

    were MAJ’s feminist sensibilities at all tweaked when it was revealed that “Sam” was “Samantha”? A device obviously meant to play off the notion that a female injured or in peril is going to garner more sympathy than a male. I don’t recall them specifying the dog’s gender before that.

    The dog’s gender is not specified, but is it really an issue? Do dogs suffer from gender discrimination? I don’t think they do.

  • Robert

    Right. Neville was a monster. He basically was Josef Mengele, grabbing vampires and experimenting on them while they were still alive in order to find a cure that they did not want.

    Josef Mengele was a sadist, Neville was trying to cure the mutants, who were once normal humans. How are you extrapolating they “didn’t want” to be cured? Living like sewer rats is better?

    And there’s the little detail that they murdered millions of non-mutant humans. Don’t see how that makes Neville the “monster”. And their existence means that the remaining non-mutant humans are still in danger. I don’t recall it being explained what they were living on since the non-mutant humans in their proximity were wiped out.

  • Robert

    The dog’s gender is not specified, but is it really an issue? Do dogs suffer from gender discrimination?

    Its gender is specified only when Neville calls it Samantha when it was under attack (or already injured?) by the mutant dogs, having previously referred to it only as Sam. With this sudden revelation they were clearly playing on the “girls are somehow more pitiable because they’re more helpless” notion. Obviously this wasn’t a consistent theme since Anna was shown as strong and capable.

    Just curious if this made a blip on your feminist radar. Apparently not.

  • Josef Mengele was a sadist, Neville was trying to cure the mutants, who were once normal humans.

    Ah, but one man’s cure is another man’s poison, isn’t it?

    In the original novel, the “vampires” weren’t the mindless beasts we had in the movie. They were fully intelligent, capable of speech, and they even had memories; Neville is taunted constantly by his former neighbor, who is now a vampire. The only real difference between them and us (Neville, anyway) is that they have vampiric qualities: Allergies to sunlight and garlic, etc. And although Neville does some research into the nature of vampirism, he never really has any intention (or even ability) to cure the vampires. He just kills them, every chance he gets. And in that way, Neville in the novel is just a monster, as far as the vampires are concerned. He’s the boogeyman. He is legend. And for his uncounted murders, they sentence him to death.

    Neville in the movie has honorable intentions (cure the plague), but his methods are, shall we say, less than ethical. He lures the creatures, snares and traps them, takes them back to his lab, and experiments on them, causing them agonizing pain, until they inevitably die. And even when he finds a cure, it doesn’t restore the vampire fully back to their former humanity… so unless he figured out a way to cure everyone almost all at the same time, he’d be curing one at a time and then worrying about how to keep them safe. He doesn’t seem to realize that; he has become so totally obsessed with finding a cure that he just doesn’t get that the world as he knows it is gone.

    So now in this restored ending, we see something closer to what Richard Matheson originally intended. The vampires are not mindless brutes; they attacked him because he attacked them. If they’d wanted to, they could easily have killed him… but all they wanted was the return of the alpha’s female. I think it’s easy to say that the humans and the vampires can’t coexist on the same planet; clearly they can, at least for a while, as long as one side does not attack the other.

  • Robert

    It’s problematic debating this since the movie and the book are apparently completely different stories with only major, superficial elements tying them together.

    Since this is the movie they chose to make, I’m going with what’s in the movie.

    He lures the creatures, snares and traps them, takes them back to his lab, and experiments on them, causing them agonizing pain, until they inevitably die.

    .shrug Okay, and they slaughtered millions of innocents. I’d say in the balance, he comes out smellin’ like a rose.

    even when he finds a cure, it doesn’t restore the vampire fully back to their former humanity

    I got the impression it was only because he wasn’t given enough time for the cure to run to completion.

    he just doesn’t get that the world as he knows it is gone.

    Doesn’t sound like he has much to lose by trying to change that. And apparently was on the verge of success. Presumably the cure could be further refined.

    I just see a certain illogic in the mutants wanting to remain in that state.

    Also, does the book address what the mutants lived on since they’ve sucked all the local non-mutants dry?

  • Regarding that last point: Yes, it does. In the book, the bacillus does not affect everyone identically. Although Neville starts out exterminating only the blood-sucking type of vampire, he learns near the end of the book that many who were affected do not need to drink blood… they still have the sunlight and garlic allergies, but otherwise they are pretty normal. The problem for Neville is that he has been indiscriminately killing ALL vampires (he gets them while they are sleeping, so none of them ever get a chance to say “No, I don’t want to suck your blood!”), and he took out a lot of the non-blood-sucking variety in the process. That’s why the civilized vampires, the ones who are starting their own society, hate him.

    Since the movie does not use the vampiric/blood theme at all, there is no reason to believe that the “mutants” are going to die out because of no blood supply. Assuming they can breed, they’re there to stay.

  • Robert

    Since the movie does not use the vampiric/blood theme at all,

    Sure it did. Remember how he caught the female? He placed a vial of his own blood in the trap. He also described to Anna how they fed on the non-mutated survivors.

    there is no reason to believe that the “mutants” are going to die out because of no blood supply.

    Living on what?

  • Doh! You’re right. My bad. [slaps forehead]

    But did they ever establish that the mutants can only survive on human blood? Seems like there were plenty of deer and such around that the mutants could feed off of.

  • Robert

    But did they ever establish that the mutants can only survive on human blood? Seems like there were plenty of deer and such around that the mutants could feed off of.

    There are numerous details that were never established. Other than the mutant dogs attacking Sam, they never showed them feeding on wildlife – or fishing off the piers for seafood ;-)

    But supposing for a moment they could live on wildlife, it seems that as many of them as there were – apparently including dogs though no other mutant animals were shown (were there mutant cats, hamsters, monkeys, etc. too?) they would quickly destroy whatever wildlife population there was just as they wiped out non-infected humans, not to mention spreading the disease to the wildlife population which would only accelerate their destruction or zombification.

    As a logical progression, it would seem that they would have to spread out looking for fresh prey, and presumably they weren’t the only mutants. Which brings up other issues – it doesn’t seem plausible that the particular pocket of mutants he stumbled on in that one building would be the only group of them. Further, assuming a need to seek fresh prey why were they sticking around NYC?

    Assuming there were other populations of them throughout the world, they still represent a threat to the survivors who would logically seek to either cure or destroy the mutants. I mean, so sorry the cancer cure back-fired and all but now you’re a dangerous zombie – sucks to be you. Don’t wanna be cured? Okay, I don’t want to be eaten – *blam*.

  • MaryAnn

    With this sudden revelation they were clearly playing on the “girls are somehow more pitiable because they’re more helpless” notion.

    Really? Perhaps they were clearly playing on the “psych! on you people who think girls can’t be as tough as boys” notion. Would you have thought Samantha the dog as tough as Samuel the dog?

  • The main reason, as far as I can tell, for Sam to be a female is that it allows Neville to treat her like a surrogate for his dead daughter. He even talks to her like she was a little girl, admonishing her to finish her vegetables and such when they are at home.

  • Robert

    Would you have thought Samantha the dog as tough as Samuel the dog?

    Anyone who doesn’t think female dogs can be tough and vicious has never inadvertantly intruded on the pups of a bitch that doesn’t know them.

    Or seen two teenage girls get into it claw and fang. Or for that matter a really p.o.’d girl -vs- a boy – I work in the public schools sometimes.

    The main reason, as far as I can tell, for Sam to be a female is that it allows Neville to treat her like a surrogate for his dead daughter. He even talks to her like she was a little girl

    I picked up that he was at times talking to it like a kid, but I didn’t catch anything gender-specific. Little boys can need coaxing to eat veggies too.

  • paul

    I know I’m coming into this a little late, but I have a few points you all might find interesting.

    First, I bought this movie in China, and when I heard about an alternative ending, I went to youtube to watch it. It turns out they are selling this movie in China with the alterative ending, so I’ve never seen the movie ending as released in America.

    Second, illegal and legal DVDs in China are so intermixed that sometimes you don’t know which it is until a shadow stands up and you realize someone from an audience is going to find the restroom (your best bet for legal movies is the big chain supermarkets). It is like Prohibition in the 1920s around here, except without the gang warfare. I also sometimes don’t know if the movies are in English, Chinese, or even Japanese until I watch it.

    As for the movie itself, I thought it was so well done, and I was so amazed, that it wasn’t until I watched it a second time that I noticed how anti-science it was, which bothers me. The virus was caused by a scientific cure, the Anna character thinks it’s all the will of God despite Neville’s reasonable points to the contrary, and in the alternative ending Neville sees their perspective, and so despite having found a cure gives up on it to follow Anna’s instructions from God.

  • MaryAnn

    Mainstream “science fiction” is almost always antiscience: Science causes problems, and scientists are the bad guys. And the overall theme is almost always: “There are things in which man was not meant to meddle.” Which is the complete opposite of scientific curiosity.

  • paul

    Yeah, I have a personal top ten anti-science SF movies list, and I only consider one of them to actually be a bad movie (Sky Captian and the World of Tomorrow). Of course, there are probably more bad A-S SF movies, it’s just that I have a good nose for avoiding badly done movies and am not paid to watch them so they don’t stick to my memory.

  • dan

    “But i will concede to being only 22 and therefore not having much experience of surviving on my own (which explains how i didn’t know about the food.)”

    I’m not trying to be trollish but I find this hilarious. Is it possible a 22 year old would starve to death in a last-person-on-earth scenario because it never occurred to him to grab a can opener and go after the thousands of cans of food that would be available in New York City? I’ve had the safe sex /responsible drinking talks with my son but I guess I’d better go over some end-of-the-world survival tips as well.:)

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