I AM LEGEND: Alone in Manhattan
The man's name is Dr. Robert Neville (Will Smith) and the dog's name is Sam. Neville is reportedly the last man on Manhattan - after an outbreak of a man-made virus devastated the whole population and turned them into vampires. The virus was supposed to be a cure for cancer (as announced by an uncredited Emma Thompson as the virus creator) but it mutated into something George A. Romero would have imagined for his "Living Dead" movies.
Of course, Neville believes he is not alone. The former military scientist, who is now immune to the virus, blames himself for this debacle, especially the death of his wife and daughter, and is earnestly trying to find a way to reverse the mutation. Everyday, he sends out a message on AM radio, urging survivors to meet him near the bombed out Brooklyn Bridge. When night falls, Neville returns to his heavily padlocked apartment alone, with Sam. They must hide from the flesh-eating creatures of the night! Is there any human survivor who will give him hope and restore his failing sanity?
HITS & MISSES: We should have no complaints about Smith's portrayal of Neville - or Francis Lawrence's helming of the movie, for that matter. The prolonged introductory sequences, especially of deserted NY City and of Neville hitting golf balls off the wing of a military plane, will etch on our minds for a long time. Unlike Tom Hanks in "Cast Away", who has only a volleyball for a friend, Smith has an easier time relating his feelings to his German Shepherd. Still, it is painful and even scary seeing him talking to mannequins at a DVD store and putting all his hopes on his quest for a 'cure'. Lawrence cleverly alternates these lonely scenes with flashbacks of Neville's bid to save his family (Salli Richardson and Willow Smith) and the zombie attacks which provide the fear and tension factors. The one nagging question that viewers may have is how on earth is electricity still available in a city that is essentially dead?
THE LOWDOWN: I am glad that Lawrence has not fashioned "I Am Legend" as a zombie movie a' la Romero but as a study on man's loneliness in a once busy city. Why, the CGI images of an uninhabited New York City is worth the price of admission and for that we have to thank production designer Naomi Shohan and cinematographer Andrew Lesnie. They are the real legends in cinema technology!