Yesterday we went to see I Am Legend, and while the film wasn’t the horrid mess some critics said it was, it had the unusual effect of scaring the crap out of my daughter. The reason why I say it’s unusual is because this is the same kid who watches hours of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and doesn’t even blink when it comes to the Big Bads that grace the small screen of that TV show.
With I Am Legend, however, the creepy CGI zombies who have been mutated by a virus that was supposed to cure cancer made her say “I want to leave.” So, Julie said that she would take Maya out of the theater –which left me to watch the rest of the film. It’s too bad they left because even though it was at the darkest moment of the film, the film got less dour as it progressed. Sure, it had a semi-sad ending, but I think if Maya stayed to see the end she would have been less scared of the zombies because they were so clearly CGI creations (and she pretty good about pointing that out) that she could have overcome her fear of impending doom that pervaded the first two acts of the film.
I know this film is based on a 60s version called The Last Man on Earth, but I never saw that film. I did, however, see the first remake of The Last Man called The Omega Man starring Charlton Heston. That film was more about the conflict between modernity and a kind of Manson family Luddite future after a war between China and the Soviet Union wipes out most of the planet — leaving only Chuck Heston as the “last man” who is immune to the virus that is mutating humans into some kind of twisted cult-like clan.
The version I saw last night had a different theme and that was how good deeds have unintended consequences.Â In the case of I Am Legend, Will Smith is part of a team that finds a cure for cancer by creating a “reprogrammed” virus that speeds to cancerous cells and destroys them quickly. Unfortunately, the virus mutated, killed 99% of all humans, and left 1% split into mutant animal-like zombies, or unaffected survivors like Will Smith.Â Smith’s character feels personally responsible for what has happened, and tries to fix things by staying at “ground zero” (i.e., Manhattan) to find a cure — a cure that’s based on using his blood to reverse the effects of the virus.
Like I said, the film was better than I expected it to be, and it did succeed in creating a believably tense mood that clearly had an effect on certain audience members. Julie was saying that when she took Maya out of the theater there was another person (about 15 years old) who also left the movie because it was just too intense. Â So, if you decide to see the film, just know that your tension level will go up and you may leave the theater with a case of the jitters.