What typically makes movies so satisfying is their ability to create the sensation of being a fly on the wall of some of the most fantastic scenarios imaginable. In the scenario in question we find military scientist Robert Neville fighting to find a cure for a deadly virus that has killed off 90% of humanity. Neville is all alone in New York, alone with the mutated victims of the deadly virus. Situations like this are ruined by the nonsensical, minor irritations that take the viewer out of the moment. You usually have a good movie on your hands when that moment lasts from beginning to end and that was the case with I Am Legend. From beginning to end I was stuck in the moment, and the movie never let me down, not once.
I Am Legend starred Will Smith. Understand that that sentence doesn’t do the term ‘star’ justice, because as difficult as standing out amongst a cast of many seems to be, I couldn’t imagine being the only thing going on in a vast majority of the film being any easier. The story that Legend tells is multifaceted, but a great deal of it is rooted in isolation, and a feeling of endless solitude that Will Smith makes work for you in a way that can only be described as utterly complete. Robert Neville is a man that has had his whole world destroyed, literally, and they give you that information in a way that is so satisfying. The movie scares you, it makes you smile and maybe laugh a little, but really it makes you empathize with the man onscreen, who has been through the most horrific event mankind could ever witness and is now impossibly trying to put his fragile mind back together.
I suppose I’m lucky that I’ve never read I Am Legend in its novel form, and I’ve never seen Charlton Heston’s Omega Man, or it’s processor (I guess I’m just not Sci-Fi enough) because the movie was such a fresh experience, and for science fiction to be done so carefully, so painstakingly is impressive to say the least. If Unforgiven can (deservedly) win an Oscar for best picture for how well it represented a setting and location, then I Am Legend should also be considered for it’s expertise in accomplishing the same goal. You have to see this film, it’s visually stunning, especially when the view is everywhere in front of you.
This was the fourth movie I’ve had the pleasure of seeing on IMAX, and while I would have been ok with seeing the movie on a lesser format, seeing it on IMAX made a tremendous difference when it came to taking in the scale of film, I don’t know if I would have enjoyed the movie near as much if not for IMAX. Even with that I plan on seeing the movie again in the theaters once the crowds die down, it’s just that good, I thought American Gangster was the best movie I saw this year, but now I’m not so sure.