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.