See it? Yes (especially if you like dogs).
My instincts told me not to go see I Am Legend. I’m skeptical of movies where big beautiful Hollywood actors play scientists (Elisabeth Shue in The Saint, Bridget Moynahan in I, Robot, etc.). But I had a free evening, and I’m a total sucker for zombie flicks, so I decided to take a chance.
I’m glad I did. I Am Legend turned out to be a very good movie. I especially appreciated the pace. I was worried during the very first scene when Robert Neville (Will Smith) was hunting caribou from a red Mustang Shelby GT in New York City at insanely high speeds, however the movie then really slowed down, really took its time, and really did a great job of exploring what it might be like being the last person in the world. That’s primarily what I wanted out of I Am Legend. Sure, zombies, weapons, and gore are all cool, but what’s far more interesting is seeing how Neville learns to adapt to isolation, and maintain as much normalcy, routine, and civility as possible.
There are several scenes where I Am Legend tries to explore the madness of isolation which I felt were a little forced, and several times when Neville is compelled to utter to himself or dictate to his computer things that he probably wouldn’t have if not for the fact that he was trying to clue the audience in on something. But the flashback scenes were very well integrated (something difficult to pull off), and overall the movie was good enough that it was very easy to overlook the few questionable scenes. I also have to mention that post-apocalyptic New York was extremely well portrayed.
Will Smith was good in I Am Legend, but his German shepherd, Sam (played by canine actors Abby and Kona), absolutely stole the show. These dogs can act circles around most of the Hollywood A-list, and certainly drew far more of a reaction from the audience than any human actors I’ve seen recently. In fact, this movie may be to German shepherd breeders what Top Gun was to Air Force recruiters. Funny how you can kill people onscreen by the dozens, hundreds, or in this case, even by the billions, but put a single dog in harm’s way, and the audience gasps with horror.
I Am Legend was a great balance between action, gore, special effects, and deliberate exploration of solitude with an ending that I thought was both tidy and unexpected.