He Is Legend

Something in today’s Zeitgeist calls for the doomed heroic last stand. You know the drill.

The genre’s latest is from Will Smith. It smashed box office records. His flick opened at over $76 million, beating previous record holder Return of the King. The take here is different from others such as ‘300’ in a variety of ways. Smith is alone for the first half hour sans any other human actor. It’s something noted by critics and predictable flashbacks to a perfect family do little to break the tedium. “Some people say” that this is is more faithful to the book by Richard Matheson.

We have only seen the kitschy Omega Man with Charlton Heston. That by all accounts is a failed interpretation of the book. The Stiftung name drops in passing we had a small dinner Heston in the UK; he was a delightful dinner companion, rifles in cold fingers aside. The scenes of him talking to the bust of Napoleon still bring a smile.

Back to Smith. What to make of this ginormous action movie where a German shepherd named Sam is the most convincing and memorable actor? (See D. Trowbridge’s comment infra). When almost every set-up is predictable a mile away? The ending did surprise us a bit because it was so pointless. Most was explained when the screen credits rolled. Akiva Goldman is listed as co-screenwriter.

The scenes of NYC were well done — whether by matte painting, back-lot or digital insert apparently New York has the grace and brains to shut down for the production. This is in sharp contrast to Los Angeles which initially refused to allow the movie Transformers to film in the very heart of the American dream factory. (When American story telling and production expertise is finally sent to Canada, Australia and Asia, who needs Los Angeles to manage intellectual properties?)

No wonder Times Square really did look like Times Square, as did the Intrepid Museum. Using the Intrepid Museum’s AR-12/SR-71 for a driving range a nice touch. We also approved of the limited ammo clip — no Bruce Willis infinite fire here. The hunting scenes for fresh game also gave a terrific feel to the movie. But so much remained unexplained regarding Smith’s Batcave and resources, etc. The co-actors who show up later have even less screen presence than the German shepherd. There also remained more potential for the relationship between the head bad guy and his apparent mate. Perhaps this a limit also in the book.

We won’t spoil the movie for you. $76 million means alot of people saw it. Perhaps your take is different. All we know is that if we were trapped in NYC alone with monsters, Shrek would not be our movie of choice.

We give it three Leos out of five.

Comments

  1. Comment says

    Enemy is just clever filmmaking – It was on the tube recently and we planned to watch it for a second or so, but as soon as we tuned in, we kept watching. It was slightly ahead of its time politically. It should have been a bad movie – but it worked anyway – Smith was not right for the role, but he delivered. Voight groked the PNSS aesthetic so well that one wondered how he preped for the role.\

    Meanwhile Tweety is just lost – How many times does he have to repeat Penn/Cocaine? Jeez.

  2. Aldershot says

    Although I remember enjoying Enemy of the State, it’s been so long that all I remember is satellite shots and some sort of compound. I like the ubiquitous Hackman best as the misunderstood bad boy, a la The Firm and The Quick and the Dead…but that’s most of his movies, I guess.

  3. Aldershot says

    “Ahhh – what about Brit and his all stars?”

    What are you blathering about, Anon? I’ve been VIOLATED!

  4. Comment says

    In Enemey of the State – Hackman seemed to be spoofing his own past role in Conversation. That little little surveillance HQ that he had in Enemy was excellent – The whole bizarre scene of discovery and explosion seemed strangely believable. Also – the guys in the humpty dumpty trucks picking up sigint were great – comic relief and all.
    You are correct – he was excellent as Luthor. Also – His Popye Doyle was just stupendous – enough to get too much of a fan base withing urban police depts.
    What made his Luthor better – was the way he made the character believable , not cartoonish . Then that guy from Deliverance was excellent too, as his Powell.

  5. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Gene Hackman is a great chewer of scenery. His Lex Luthor in our opinion far superior to the Kevin Spacey version. Great in Unforgiven.

    _________
    Realistically, today in Enemy of the State, Will Smith would be living in a group house with an FBI informant after being on the watch list. Smith would make several international calls discussing nefarious plans, as well. His laptop would also have details of contacts plans.

    Jon Voight would be getting memos titled “Will Smith Taking Flying Lessons” along with others headlined “Smith Determined To Strike In U.S.” Then, when having breakfast with David Pryor, his congressional mentor who got him his job, when he hears of a disaster, he bolts up and exclaims “Will Smith !!”

  6. A Random Comment says

    “On Monday night, when asked by someone at the rally why there were people who did not like her, she [Hillary] did not criticize herself or delve into introspection..”
    ~Patrick Healy
    NY Times 12-19-07

  7. Comment says

    Enemy Of The State had some great scenes – the initital hit scene at the lake was excellent. The DC chase was well done. Skilled filmwork made some over-the-top story elements seem semi plausible, even in this pre 911 era. Gene Hackman was excellent too. The PNSS state was portrayed in caricature, but in a defensible way. Now that we recall – we recall seeing that film when it came out and one of our winged nut pals express concern that that movie’s liberal bias was delivered cleverly.

  8. Anon says

    Steyn is either cynical or naive (a bit of both) if he thinks laws like the Patriot Act will be used mostly to go after terrorists – Overtime, those provisions will be used to catch or go after a host of criminals – inlcluding white collar – He objects to Conrad being charged as a mobster – but this is an old complaint. Steyn would obviously revel if someone he did not like was charged with racketeering.

  9. Anon says

    With these Movement types the law is a wonderful thing when it locks up a minority with a drug problem. But then when Conrad falls, they look to Carlyle and read (incidentally – this actually about Addington) :

    “Thus, amid obstructions and stimulating furtherances, has the Question of the Trial to grow; emerging and submerging; fostered by solicitous Patriotism. Of the Orations that were spoken on it, of the painfully devised Forms of Process for managing it, the Law Arguments to prove it lawful, and all the infinite floods of Juridical and other ingenuity and oratory, be no syllable reported in this History. Lawyer ingenuity is good: but what can it profit here? If the truth must be spoken, O august Senators, the only Law in this case is: Vae victis, the loser pays! Seldom did Robespierre say a wiser word than the hint he gave to that effect, in his oration, that it was needless to speak of Law, that here, if never elsewhere, our Right was Might. An oration admired almost to ecstasy by the Jacobin Patriot: who shall say that Robespierre is not a thorough- going man; bold in Logic at least? To the like effect, or still more plainly, spake young Saint-Just, the black-haired, mild-toned youth. Danton is on mission, in the Netherlands, during this preliminary work. The rest, far as one reads, welter amid Law of Nations, Social Contract, Juristics, Syllogistics; to us barren as the East wind. In fact, what can be more unprofitable than the sight of Seven Hundred and Forty-nine ingenious men, struggling with their whole force and industry, for a long course of weeks, to do at bottom this: To stretch out the old Formula and Law Phraseology, so that it may cover the new, contradictory, entirely uncoverable Thing? Whereby the poor Formula does but crack, and one’s honesty along with it! The thing that is palpably hot, burning, wilt thou prove it, by syllogism, to be a freezing-mixture? This of stretching out Formulas till they crack is, especially in times of swift change, one of the sorrowfullest tasks poor Humanity has.:

  10. Anon says

    Roger Kimball is a bit of bore with his pinchy anglophile TS Elliot mimicry and his Chicken McCarlyle cliche use of the French Revolution (why not use some other event?).
    But this funny on some levels. Mark Steyn does his pal no favors with his terrible defense of Black – Look at Steyn’s recommendations and you can see his ignorance of the law as he does the unwitting bidding of the National Lawyers Guild:
    http://pajamasmedia.com/xpress/rogerkimball/2007/12/18/conrad_black_and_saintjust.php

  11. Comment says

    Will Smith was pretty good in that movie about surveilance – What was the name of it? Angelina Jolie’s dad played this Rumsfeldian PNSS-type. The name of the movie escapes, but we greatly enjoyed it at the time. It was oddly plausible/

  12. Aldershot says

    Thou shalt blow thy neighbor away:

    “Imagine: you are a foot soldier in a paramilitary group whose purpose is to remake America as a Christian theocracy, and establish its worldly vision of the dominion of Christ over all aspects of life. You are issued high-tech military weaponry, and instructed to engage the infidel on the streets of New York City. You are on a mission – both a religious mission and a military mission — to convert or kill Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, gays, and anyone who advocates the separation of church and state – especially moderate, mainstream Christians. Your mission is “to conduct physical and spiritual warfare”; all who resist must be taken out with extreme prejudice. You have never felt so powerful, so driven by a purpose: you are 13 years old. You are playing a real-time strategy video game whose creators are linked to the empire of mega-church pastor Rick Warren, best selling author of The Purpose Driven Life.”

    http://www.talk2action.org/story/2006/5/29/195855/959

  13. Aldershot says

    Not a big Will Smith fan, I thought the premise looked cool.

    The first Bourne movie was excellent, really captured that cozy Cold War feel, if you know what I mean. The second was pretty good, too.

    Tweets did a killer Bill Clinton impression Monday night. Heh.

  14. cato90025 says

    The German Shepherd would be the only reason I would see this movie–Will’s nexus w/scientology is too much for me to stomach–let alone his over-acting.

    Back to the infra-human–German Shepherd–what little I saw of it looked like a female. Or God forbid one w/American lines!

    My black shepherd would never forgive for seeing a movie ersatz version of that fine line–nearly as strong would be my brother’s enmity for patronizing a Will Smith project.

    Sounds god-awful. Can you a write a synopsis w/spoiler alert prominently displayed?

    There must be some meta-physical political contruct crudely foisted in the plot.

    Regards

  15. A Random Quote says

    “No question: JOhn Ashcroft is the worst attorney general in history.”
    ~Paul Krugman
    6-15-2004

  16. A Random Quote says

    “Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.”
    ~Niels Bohr

  17. Comment says

    The first Bourne movie was the only one we saw and we thought it was pretty good. Better than expected.

  18. Dr.LeoStrauss says

    D. Trowbridge — changes made to above. Thanks!

    Aldershot, we are waiting for a DVD rental. Sorry to punt but haven’t seen it yet.

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