Two-thirds of this movie is awesome. The end falls apart a bit, and it has very little in common with the novel, but it’s still worth seeing. It really does a great job with the isolated, lonely, paranoia that’s the bread and butter of these “Last Man on Earth” type movies. The only other complaint I can mention without spoiling anything is that the monster special effects are pretty bad. For a movie that cost $90 million and had such great ruined cityscapes, the monsters looked surprisingly bad.
Still, a lot of it is legitimately creepy, and there’s no good reason not to see it.
Spoilers, as usual, after the jump. Pretty big ones, too.
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Two things bugged me about the movie, that I’ll just get out right now:
- I’m sick of seeing dogs in movies, because something terrible always happens to the dog. Without fail. Either stop doing it, or stop with the dogs. I get that it’s supposed to add some emotional punch to the story, but it’s incredibly predictable, and I hate watching it. I’m a lame-ass, and for some reason seeing a dog get punched is a lot worse than a person. I Am Legend, American Gangster, and god knows how many other movies have done it recently, and it’s quickly becoming my least-favorite movie trope.
- The ending was just dumb. Why is it so hard to make a good movie out of this story? The whole point of the book (I’m ruining the twist ending here) was that Neville was the last man alive, and while some of the vampires were feral cannibals, some of them were also intelligent, and were starting a new civilization. Neville was running around indiscriminately murdering them in their sleep, until it became obvious that he was their boogeyman.
That’s what Romero took from Matheson, and what made his zombie movies so watchable - that there’s more to the undead than a hungry corpse chasing you around. Romero’s zombies, which were largely based on Matheson’s vampires, could actually think and learn. Christ, The Omega Man got that right, why doesn’t I Am Legend?
The story is just a lot less interesting when it doesn’t have that depth, so that towards the end, when the plot makes the transfer from the Creepy Freakout Hell Bus to the Monster Fight Gunplay Train, it really stalls. And the coda after Neville blows himself up is just beyond worthless. Thanks for the happy ending, writers, I’m very glad you shoe-horned that in.