I made the effort to go into Central London today to go to the cinema with my sister, even though she now lives in London to, it’s too difficult (i.e. a pain the neck) to get between where either of us live, so Leicester Square it was. I hadn’t been to the cinema in Leicester Square for a long time, I used to go when I was a mere tourist in London and once with some workmates (a bunch of forensic scientists going to see a film about a forensic scientist (The Bone Collector)), other than that, as probably I suspect a lot of Londoners I try and avoid Leicester Square like the plague, a too expensive, over glitzy, plastic tourist trap.
However seeing I Am Legend today at the Odeon in Leicester Square was a pleasant surprise, ok it was still expensive, requiring a small loan just to get some film food but once inside the seats are comfortable (which my local cinema seats are most definitely not) and the digital screen notably impressive, so I’ll eat my previous sentiment ever so slightly, Leicester Square cinemas aren’t that bad.
And as for the film, wow! I didn’t know an intelligent zombie movie could exist! (Other than, thinking about it, 28 Days Later). So an interesting idea coupled with Will Smith’s
six pack fine acting ability and a cute dog = a really good movie. The basic premise of the movie is that an English Dr. Krippen (and if that’s not a red flag according to Hollywood movie conventions, I don’t know what else is, forget the fact that Krippen sounds suspiciously like Dr.Crippen, the notorious murderous doctor but the fact that she’s English, chosen nationality of all Hollywood evil bad guys, should have given it away, even though in this case her actions were not deliberate), anyway the English Dr.Krippen ‘discovers’ the cure for cancer, an adapted measles virus which has the unfortunate side effect of turning everyone into zombies. Fast forward three years and New York is deserted save for a large number of zombies and Will Smith and his dog (who deserves a doggy Oscar).
Will Smith’s character, a Dr. Neville, is a military scientist (so brains and brawn, be still my beating heart, nothing like a good looking man in lab specs and a white coat) is naturally immune to the virus and he keeps himself at ‘ground zero’ in an effort to find a cure whilst trying to keep away from the zombies who come out at night like all good zombies do.
For the majority of this movie Will Smith is the only human in it and he carries it wonderfully (in a similar way to how he carried In the Pursuit of Happyness). This movie is not a mere shoot em up gore fest, it has intelligence and emotion which is amply provided by Smith as he begins to crack under the strain of the isolation and the nightly terrors. The scenes where he talks to the shop dummies in the video store are fantastic, particularly when he begs one of them to say hello to him.
Technically the film was also impressive, filmed in New York, how on earth did they manage to get the streets of New York to look so abandoned and decrepid?
The film does get a tad overly religious towards the end, which was unexpected and I could have done without but even so the ending was moving and brought a lump to my throat.
So basically if you like Will Smith and/or good quality intelligent zombie movies (like 28 Days Later) you’ll like this one. I can’t wait to see what Will Smith will do next.