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PCR #403 (Vol. 8, No. 50) This edition is for the week of December 10--16, 2007.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"I Am Legend"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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"I Am Legend"  by Mike Smith
I'm Your Man, Unique Video Fan Club Card, Viva Knievel, "Canova"  by Andy Lalino
Time Warp Toy Box: Week 2  by ED Tucker
My Worst of 2007 List  by Lisa Ciurro
Great Issue, Guys! .... Ike! .... No Joy In Mudville .... Here Come The Awards .... .... .... .... .... Whatever Happened To--? Chapter 36: The Final Chapter  by Mike Smith
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Starring: Will Smith
Directed by: Francis Lawrence
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 1 hour 40 mins

It’s 2009. New York City. As we watch television, we learn that Shaquille O’Neal has announced he will retire next year. In baseball, all signs point to a Cubs/Yankees World Series. A quick look at the billboards in Times Square not only shows us that ’RENT’ and ‘Hairspray’ are still playing on Broadway, but that someone finally made a Superman/Batman film. Oh, and a scientist has announced that she has, in fact, found the cure for cancer.

2012. New York City. Robert Neville (Smith) starts his day the usual way. After breakfast he and his dog, Sam, head to the local video store to return the previous night’s selection. Robert is attempting to watch every movie in the store and he’s now in the middle of the “G” aisle. He speaks to the clerk behind the counter then heads out to drive around town and do some sightseeing. Suddenly he is spooked as a herd of deer run past him down the middle of 42nd Street. But only for a moment. When you’re the last man in the city, you get used to the unusual.

Based on the novel by Richard Matheson (a master storyteller who contributed as much to “The Twilight Zone” as Rod Serling did), “I Am Legend” is an outstanding example of first rate filmmaking. Director Lawrence has managed to turn the biggest city in America into a desolate wasteland, where grass now grows on the sidewalks of Broadway and the famous concrete jungles of skyscrapers are starting to be overtaken by the real thing. Devoid of any outside noise, the sprawling city becomes almost claustrophobic on screen. At night, the city takes on a different appearance. It seems that the much ballyhooed cancer-curing vaccine had a slight risk, and those that were affected now roam the streets at night, living off of the blood of anything they can catch. Their affliction makes them ultra-sensitive to UV rays. Just a beam of sunlight can kill them. Think of them as vampires but without the capes.

The success of this film rests on the shoulders of Will Smith. With the exception of a few flashbacks, Smith is on screen alone for almost the first hour of the film. As a scientist trying to find a cure, he tries to act normally in his new environment. Even something as simple as checking out a DVD and making polite conversation with the clerk (Robert has set up mannequins in various spots of the city, allowing him to pass the time when he encounters them) makes the day seem routine. However, he must also hunt and capture the occasional creature to test his possible cures on. It is those moments that put you in the film with him. Every unexplored room or darkened passage makes you tense up as you join Robert on his treks. Smith is given the opportunity to explore every emotion and he does them all admirably. I must also give credit to Sam the dog, Robert’s only real companion. Not since Wilson the volleyball kept Tom Hanks company in “CastAway,” has a non-speaking character meant so much to a film. The visual effects, both of the decaying city and the ghoulish night dwellers, are outstanding, and the score by James Newton Howard lends the right notes to the suspense.

On a scale of zero to four stars I give “I Am Legend”

This week's movie review of "I Am Legend" is ©2007 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2007, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.