… a bit sensationalist. (Re: My review of I Am Legend)
In retrospect (or perhaps due to it slowly fading from memory) I Am Legend is not the near-perfect movie I said it was. The action wasn’t that intense and while I say that Will Smith’s acting was so good you almost didn’t think it was acting, you know he’s acting and you analyze him as an actor. I still stand by that it was the best movie I saw in theaters in 2007. Its a good thing that I saw it in December.
Why? Why am I downplaying or seemingly retracting what I said about I Am Legend? Why did I imply that it’s reign ended early in 2008?
Put simply, Cloverfield. I’ll run through my checklist of components to a movie- just so I can start thinking straight about this movie.
Acting (15/15): The prospect of not having any recognizable names in your cast might be a scary thing for a director or producer, but that’s precisely the thing that makes you forget that they are actors entirely. Think back to Flight 93. If you saw it, I’m pretty sure you didn’t even stop to think that those were actors. Precisely the same thing happens here. You can’t really say much about the actors because, well… There’s really not much to say.
Plot (14/15): Yes, this is a monster movie; however, its more of a monster movie than I Am Legend was a zomgee movie. This was not a barren and deserted New York City, this was a destroyed NYC. This wasn’t about finding a cure, this was about surviving and running away in sheer terror. Comparing this movie to any other is just plain hard. I suppose the closest thing might be War of the Worlds, but even that doesn’t come close. There’s no magical bacteria to save the day. There is, in fact, nothing at all.
Directing/Production (15/15): This movie was tagged as a J.J. Abrams project, but he doesn’t direct. Rather, that job is left up to Matt Reeves, a director with seemingly little experience and no major titles behind him. He does not disappoint and adds quite a large notch to his belt. He must have gotten a lot of help from Abrams, who has such notables as Lost (writer, producer), Alias (composer, producer, writer, director, etc), MI:3 (director, writer), Armageddon (writer).
Effects (14/15): At no point did I see anything on screen that I could immediately tell was fake- which was remarkable, considering that the villain of the movie was a mega CG beast (pun intended). There really only is one thing that it reminds me of, and even that is nothing like it. Seemingly 95% of the end credits were for sound or graphics.
Music/Score (15/15): During the credits, I didn’t count how many songs rolled by (20 maybe?) But I don’t remember a single song overlaid on the movie. There was nothing. I Am Legend with its few minutes of Marley and a few suspense-laden notes seems like a 3 hour musical collage comparatively. Given the filming style, I guess this is expected. During the credits, there is a very eerie, dark, yet powerful overture called “ROAR!” No, I’m not kidding, and its a great track.
Cinematography (14/15): No steadicam here. The entire movie is shot from a (suspiciously) good quality camcorder. It apparently has a light, night vision, a battery straight from Yi Cui’s laboratory, and records hi-def. References are made to the tape running out (tape? TAPE?)
Intangibles (10/10): This is a movie that you can’t like. You can’t not like it either. Its not a good movie. Its not a bad movie. It’s a jaw-clenching, muscle-cramping, face-contorting thriller that makes you cry, scream, hide, and feel like you are right there. Watching it in theater 9 at Tinseltown adds a potential point to my score. It left me wanting to say, as the guy a few rows back so eloquently put it, “REWIND!”
While I’ve got your attention, let me announce (if you haven’t heard already) that there’s a new Star Trek movie, the next “J.J. Abrams Project.”