A few evenings ago, while off on vacation with Gabe, we went to see Will Smith in I Am Legend. We both were looking forward to seeing the film: Gabe for its special effects, me for the larger messages, and the reminder of seeing Charlton Heston in The Omega Man many years ago.
The film has some redeeming features. Like the special effects. The special effects are stunning. The zombies are horrifying because they are the epitome of humanity gone wrong; the deserted and desiccated streets of New York are haunting. It's so well done that you can't imagine (a) how they did it, or (b) how it could have been done any better.
And Will Smith can act. He loves his dog so much that your heart just breaks -- and you hate him -- when he repeatedly puts the dog in harm's way (of course, there's danger everywhere, and he can't help it).
But the movie has only two gears: slow, and shriekingly fast. It has only one real relationship: Will Smith and Samantha, his German Shepherd. It has sonorous pronouncements set to Bob Marley music, and violence in the name of some greater good that is never even vaguely defined as anything other than survival.
And the story is weak. It's worse than weak, actually: it's sanctimonious and vapid at the same time. Without giving the plot-line away for those who don't know it, I'll just summarize its message here:
We are a special society: a society of caring and healthy people who will guard each others' mutual best interests -- until, that is, we discover that we have zombies in our midst. Then, while looking for a cure, we have to put our family's interests above all others. While reaching out to the zombies, we also have to kill as many of the zombies as we can. We have to be willing to give our lives to kill zombies, so that we can retreat to our magical compound and restore our society to its rightful place as the loving but well-armed nation of diverse, fair minded, heat-packing, warm-hearted, cold-blooded killers.
What disturbs me is that the above paragraph could also serve as a passable summary of the Old Testament.
But I give the Torah four stars, whereas I give I Am Legend a mere one and a half.