Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Remake Weekend
Bar Harbor
Last weekend, kestrell and I caught a couple of recent remakes on DVD, "I am Legend" and "King Kong". Comments (and spoilers) follow.

This is the third film based on Richard Matheson's novel, though the first one to bear the same name. It's probably the least faithful in every other respect, but also the most successful as a piece of art in its own right.

It is said of many stories that their setting is significant enough that it almost counts as another cast member. New York City has often filled such a role. This is the first time I can recall seeing the long-dead *corpse* of a city being such a significant character. Many familiar landmarks feature, though most are overgrown, and all are greatly changed by the simple lack of people.

I read some reviews which complained that this movie seemed a bit schizophrenic. Much of it spent as a slow-paced, elegaic lament for lost humanity, and then there are the bits that seem to come out of a more traditional monster movie. I felt, on the contrary, that these conflicting tones each enriched the other significantly. The elegy was sharpened by the threat of losing what little remained; the monsters were more scary because of the sad state they had brought the world to.

I was rather bugged by some of the plot turns near the end. To some extent, my viewing experience may have been damaged by my memories of prior versions. In earlier versions, when the girl shows up, she is eventually revealed to be one of the undead, who are gradually becoming more intelligent, and starting to build their own replacement society. In this version, she is apparently completely human, but the script is full of 'tells' that suggest she may be lying. Most significant of these is her knowledge of the location of other survivors due to "I just know -- or maybe God told me." Given that the earlier events of the movie do form a convinving argument for the non-existence of God (and one which the protagonist makes quite explicit), it irks me that this claim is let stand for the rest of the movie, with no further explanation. The story thus becomes either incomplete, or inherently mystical, neither of which I find pleasing in what had earlier been a quite well-structured SF story.

Even with its flaws, it's one of the better films I've seen this year. Recommended.

Most of what I have to say here has already been said by many others. It could have easily lost an hour without losing any story. Indeed, several long sequences would have improved the film by their absence. Notable among these are the "giant bugs and leeches" section, and the "ice skating in Central Park" bit. Almost every sequence could have used some trimming. I'm glad to have seen a Brontosaurus stampede, but I didn't need that lengthy a one.

Jack Black does a fine turn as a completely self-focused director who crosses the line into actual evil on more than one occasion. He gets to deliver the classic final line. In the context of this version, it's clearly untrue, but it's very much in character for him to say it. And probably even believe it, at least for the moment.

There were definite fun parts, but not enough of them to really fill out a three hour running time. Mildly Recommended.

  • 1
Spot on about Kong. It's not bad if it's on cable and you're feeling brainless, but it's not worth paying for.

Kong I actually had to flee from. It was boring me on TiVo, with Kind of slow-moving. ;)

I am legend keeps making me laugh whenever I think of the poster and tag line:
"The last man on Earth is not alone!" - I think "Of course not, he has a dog."

[late comment, because I only just saw it for the first time myself last night]

Given that the earlier events of the movie do form a convinving argument for the non-existence of God (and one which the protagonist makes quite explicit)

I am not so sure. That is, yes, the protagonist makes this point quite explicitly, but I should have said that earlier events in the movie form an even more convincing argument that the protagonist is pretty strongly in denial about a number of things. For Neville to react to the girl's mention of God with such a vehement rant at that point in the story, seemed to me to support the thought that God was indeed at work here, and that made the ending a Conclusion where, stictly plot-wise, it was barely a mid-point.

I will admit that I've only ever seen one film version before, and forgotten that, so I was seeing it with absolutely no preconceptions or prior context, for good or bad. And I agree with your final verdict: definitely recommended, though not as much so for those who've had to put their dog to sleep within the past week.

  • 1

Log in

No account? Create an account