15 December 2007

I Am Legend (4/5)

This was a more subtle piece than I'd expected from Will Smith [ IMDB | Rotten Tomatoes ]. The whole of the movie--scenes with screaming, 28-days-later, speed-freak mutants aside--has the same quiet bleakness of No Country for Old Men. The soundtrack invades infrequently. There is no greatness to the story as a whole, but small points, left unspoken but paralleled across disparate scenes, were far above what cheaper post-apocalyptic flicks might offer (think Resident Evil, et al.).

The film advances on two fronts, with interspersed scenes: post-infection with Will Smith possibly the only uninfected person on Earth and searching for a cure; and pre-infection revealing the cause and the crisis. The first act is lonely but somewhat lighthearted with Smith's dog stealing many scenes. The second act moves into more serious territory and more action: Smith's lonliness is almost to the point of insanity just as he encounters other survivors. The resolution is uninteresting and yet the details and the storytelling of the whole are what resonate.

Of minor social interest: Omega Man came out (along with several similar films) at a time of environmental crisis. In it, humankind's altering of self via medicine threatens their destruction. In Soylent Green, the threat comes from the altering of their environment via overpoplulation. In Planet of the Apes, from inappropriate dominion over the animal kingdom. Each was in response to actual problems and took those to an absurd conclusion. These exaggerated conclusions help us define, through art, our anguish from real-world stresses. I had commented previously how predictive art is more warning--drawing a straight line instead of a curve--than prediction. I'm not sure if movies like I Am Legend and Children of Men fit that for today.

[ posted by sstrader on 15 December 2007 at 1:02:22 PM in Cinema ]