Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I AM LEGEND, dammit

Okay...going to rant now. I generally don’t like blogs used for rants but I guess sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.

A few weeks ago I posted a blog about I AM LEGEND, in which I discussed meeting the author, Richard Matheson, when I was a teenager and how much of an impact he and his writings had on me. He’d given me a copy of I AM LEGEND when I was fourteen and it’s one of my favorite books. I also regard it as a masterpiece of social commentary with layers of psychological subtext.

I just went and saw the newest film adaptation of the book, starring Will Smith. I’m not a happy camper.

First let me say some nice things about the flick. Will Smith can act rings around a lot of other actors in Hollywood. There are a couple of scenes in the film (one based on grief over a loved one’s death and another where we can see his mind fracturing when something inexplicable happens.) Few actors could have pulled off what he did. So, Kudos to Will.

Also, the dog is adorable and I’m a sucker for German Shepherds.

If I had never read the book I would have thought that the film was ¾’ths of a great flick.


The downsides, of which there are too many, start with the fact that they did not film the damn book. They didn’t even try. I’m pretty sure they didn’t GET the book, and certainly didn’t put any value on the significance of its story. In the novel the protagonist goes from being a heroic figure fighting to keep evil at bay to becoming the legend of evil for an entirely new culture. It’s what makes the title so profound. None of that is in this flick.

Granted, it wasn’t in the Vincent Price version (THE LAST MAN ON EARTH) or the absurd Chuck Heston psycho albino take (OMEGA MAN)...but I really had high hopes for this one. Instead they just made it another last man on earth drama.

The entire third act --from the appearance of the woman and the boy—is the worst example of deus ex machina I’ve seen in years. Hokey, sappy, and it gives what could have been a powerful social commentary a Disney ending, during which a nonsense voice over attempts to tie in this new storyline to the title...and fails. Audience members laughed. No one cheered.

I’m a huge science fiction fan and I’ll even watch bad sci-fi flicks (I’ve seen every Godzilla flick three times or more), but when you take a great novel and demonstrably miss the point, then it just becomes a very expensive waste of time.

Here endeth the rant.

Jonathan Maberry

1 comment:

Morbideus said...

Granted, Alistair Sim's version is my favorite, but I also really like Albert Finney version that's just called "Scrooge". I don't hear much mention of that one, but I thought all of the ghosts and characters were done very well. (IF one get get past the singing parts.)