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I Am Legend
Directed by Francis Lawrence
Written by Mark Protosevich and Akiva Goldsman from the novel by Richard Matheson

I Am Legend
Principal Cast
Will Smith -- Robert Neville
Alice Braga -- Anna
Charlie Tahan -- Ethan
Salli Richardson -- Zoe Neville
Willow Smith -- Marley Neville
Darrell Foster -- Mike - Military Escort
April Grace -- TV Personality
Dash Mihok -- Alpha Male
Joanna Numata -- Alpha Female
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Klaw

Arguably the most paranoid novel ever published, Richard Matheson's powerful tale of isolation, I Am Legend, informed the works of Stephen King, Dean R. Koontz, Joe R. Lansdale, and pretty much everyone else who has written horror since the story's 1954 publication. The book spawned two previous movie adaptations. The first, L' Ultimo Uomo Della Terra (The Last Man on Earth, 1964), starred Vincent Price in a dull yet faithful Italian production. Although Matheson penned the initial screenplay, re-writes by other writers angered him so much that he asked to be credited as "Logan Swanson." 1971's The Omega Man, starring Charlton Heston, used only the bare outline of the original story. This diverting action rendition relied on brawn over brains offering a mindless entertainment. Last December, director Francis Lawrence returned Matheson's classic to film, the first to sport the book title, I Am Legend. While the latest incarnation successfully captured the mood and ambiance, the schmaltzy, predictably-happy conclusion devolved the story into typical Hollywood fare. Ultimately this rendition proved to be not necessarily a bad movie, just a forgettable one.

The DVD release offers a chance of redemption with an "alternate theatrical version with controversial ending," so screams the cover. While not necessarily controversial (an idea that is never addressed in any of the extras), the ending does result in a better film with a far more satisfying, albeit still too happy, finale. Without giving too much away, this version more fully examines and explains the motivations of the mutants.

Included with the package, a series of four animated comic books (basically comics with some moving bits) further explore the world within the movie. While beautifully illustrated, these pieces add little to the story. I Am Legend with these elements becomes The Stand. The strength of the movie lies in the belief that Neville is the last man on Earth. The tale weakens as it moves away from the original concept.

The rest of the extras are annoyingly only accessible through a DVD-ROM player on a PC running Windows XP or later. Besides the fact that roughly 15 percent of computer users do not use the Microsoft operating system, most enjoy DVDs only on their televisions. This unwise decision will prevent many from viewing some excellent documentaries about the creation of this complex movie. The shorts recount several of the more interesting aspects including the special effects, cars, and animal training. An insightful interview with Richard Matheson about his seminal creation crowns these buried extras.

Copyright © 2008 Rick Klaw

Rick Klaw produced four years of the popular monthly SF Site column "Geeks With Books", and supplied countless reviews, essays, and fiction for a variety of publications including, The Austin Chronicle, The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Moving Pictures RevolutionSF, King Kong Is Back!, Conversations With Texas Writers, Farscape Forever, Electric Velocipede, Cross Plains Universe, and Steampunk. MonkeyBrain Books published the collection of his essays, reviews, and other things Klaw, Geek Confidential: Echoes From the 21st Century.


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