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I am Legend.


Having not read the original novel, by Richard Matheson, published in 1954, nor having seen either of the two previous film adaptations (The Last Man on Earth - 1964, The Omega Man - 1971), I came to I am Legend with no real expectations other than it stared Will Smith and he was playing, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Neville, the sole human survivor on planet Earth.

I had heard of The Omega Man, and, when a film interests me enough I usually end up rummaging around the Internet Movie Database to see what information I can dig up.

From this point on, if you haven't seen I am Legend then the rest of this article does contain spoilers so you may wish to stop reading now. As always my intention with these movie articles is to discuss my thoughts about the film, rather than review it as a whole.

I thought the concept of humanity being wiped out by a cure for cancer that went bad (essentially a modified version of the measles virus) was very plausible in today's climate of scientific experimentation (the film is set in our contemporary world). Certainly a much stronger concept than as the result of biological warfare of the previous film, The Omega Man.

With that in mind it does come across, some what unbelievable, that the entire world could become infected. Granted the virus could be caught from the air, the world is a big place and vast oceans have been known to keep viruses at bay between continents. That aside, world wide supply of gas masks and other such breathing apparatus, would surely buy those, not at ground zero, some time to set up environmentally sealed biospheres.

What was the point of quarantining Manhattan Island if the virus was airborne and why weren't those soldiers, screening people for the virus, wearing some kind of breathing filter given that people with the virus were showing up? Not exactly the 'take no chances' precautions we see used in the real world in the event of an anthrax scare.

I know this kind of nit picking is bad. You don't want to let the real world get in the way of story telling and trust me it didn't. For the most part I really enjoyed this movie and it's story - with exception to the rather abrupt ending. It's only afterwards that I've begun to think more about the plausibility of the films virus (known as KV or the Krippin Virus. Named after its creator Dr. Alice Krippin (Emma Thompson))

I did like the concept of the Dark Seekers as the product of the virus. Not knowing much about the story before hand I was surprised to see these other 'humans' in the film.

In the original book the Dark Seekers were actually vampires, a concept that I'm glad was dropped from the current movie, though they did display vampire-like qualities beyond light sensitivity - such as going for the throat when attacking.

Also, in the original novel, the vampires were much more articulate and less primal than the Dark Seekers. I think, I am Legend, the movie, would have been a very different film if the Dark Seekers were on speaking terms. I think it would also be much harder for Neville to hunt them down for his tests on finding a cure.

As I said earlier, I wasn't that impressed by the ending. As we head towards the climax the Dark Seekers seem less and less affected by light, including open flame (which I imagine would also be rather detrimental to light sensitive skin).

It seems to me setting up a wall of UV lights around Neville's house should have been more than enough of a deterrent to the Dark Seekers - even in plague proportions. Neville seemed to have access to power and had plenty of time to barricade his home and set up a minefield of explosives. But in the end none of this was effective.

Neville sacrifices himself to save the human race even though he believes he is the last man on earth (a theory that doesn't quite stand up as well after that damn woman and her kid turned up and shot a hole through it).

Speaking of that woman and her kid, why does Neville not ask the question... Where have you been for the last three years? We learn next to nothing about her or her past yet we have to be happy with her bringing the movie to its final conclusion.

Perhaps it should've ended like the book, with us believing that the last man alive has just died and we've been lucky enough to follow those last few days/years. Man becoming nothing more than a legend.

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