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I Am Legend(2007)
Robert Neville is a brilliant scientist, but even he could not contain the terrible virus that was unstoppable, incurable... and manmade. Somehow immune, Neville is now the last human survivor in what is left of New York City... and maybe the world. But he is not alone. He is surrounded by "the Infected" — victims of the plague who have mutated into carnivorous beings who can only exist in the dark and who will devour or infect anyone or anything in their path. For three years, Neville has spent his days scavenging for food and supplies and faithfully sending out radio messages, desperate to find any other survivors who might be out there. All the while, the Infected lurk in the shadows, watching Neville's every move, waiting for him to make a fatal mistake. Perhaps mankind's last, best hope, Neville is driven by only one remaining mission: to find a way to reverse the effects of the virus using his own immune blood. But his blood is also what The Infected hunt, and Neville knows he is outnumbered and quickly running out of time.
For more about I Am Legend and the I Am Legend Blu-ray release, see I Am Legend Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on March 18, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: Francis Lawrence
Writers: Akiva Goldsman, Mark Protosevich
Starring: Will Smith, Alice Braga, Charlie Tahan, Salli Richardson-Whitfield, Willow Smith, Dash Mihok
» See full cast & crew
I Am Legend Blu-ray Review
A very well made post-apocalyptic film debuts as a must-own Blu-ray disc.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, March 18, 2008
My name is Robert Neville. I am a survivor in New York City...If there is anybody out there, anybody, please...you are not alone.
Director Francis Lawrence's I Am Legend represents a new entry into the annals of the small but wonderful list of post-apocalyptic films, a genre boasting classics such as The Road Warrior and 28 Days Later. This genre has always held a remarkable fascination as perhaps the greatest "what if?" question ever posed to moviegoers. I Am Legend is a retelling of the novel of the same title written in 1954 by Richard Matheson, writer of both the Twilight Zone TV episode and the movie segment, "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet." The book has seen several movie renditions, including Vincent Price's brilliant film Last Man On Earth (1964) and Charleton Heston's solid yet unspectacular The Omega Man (1971). I Am Legend is similar to Matheson's work in name and basic plot only. It's an updated version of the story that works remarkably well as an effective thriller and action film with a message of the role of fate and harmony in even the bleakest of circumstances.
Will Smith (I, Robot) stars as Dr. Robert Neville, a military scientist who finds himself alone in New York City some 1,000 days after a virus emanating from a potential cancer cure miracle drug devastates the city and the world. Neville struggles along, his only companion a dog named Sam, and continues with his work of searching for a cure to the infection. Neville finally discovers what may be a breakthrough and ventures out to find an infected human subject for further analysis of the drug. At this point, the film switches gears, focusing more on action rather than the slow and deliberate introduction to the lonely world of Dr. Neville, portraying him hunting medium sized game for food in a deserted downtown New York City and following him as he copes with the reality of being alone as he talks to mannequins and continues to borrow and return films to the video store. Once the action picks up, Neville's life will forever change in mere hours as issues he has avoided for more than three years spring up one after another. The film concludes with a fine interweaving of several seemingly minor plot points introduced throughout the film, revealing the importance of faith, belief, and the human spirit in even the most adverse and hopeless of situations.
Will Smith turns in what is undoubtedly one of the finest performances of his career as a man coping as well as he can with the situation presented to him. He keeps up a cool exterior, one that is superficial only, hiding the fear, anger, and anguish he feels underneath. His back story is told in flashbacks, leading to a scene that scars him for life and leaves the audience shocked to say the least. Smith plays the role so well that audiences may forget that he really isn't the last man alive. His interactions with his dog provide his only means of maintaing a sense of companionship, though he tries his hardest to speak with mannequins to no avail. Perhaps his best scene in the film features Neville reciting a scene from the movie Shrek verbatim, doing so with a lifeless stare into nothingness, obviously having watched the film so many times that the characters in it, like Sam, have become his friends over the years. Smith was perfectly cast for this film, and while his performance isn't the kind those who choose the Oscars look for when picking candidates, he nevertheless far exceeds his job description, seemingly living his role rather than acting it.
I Am Legend proves to be fine entertainment that works because it forces the viewer into Neville's shoes as audiences ask themselves how they would handle such a crisis situation. It definitely proves to be food for thought and may be even a wake-up call to those who may find themselves completely unprepared for such a drastic circumstance. As a film, I Am Legend builds on several "legendary" cinematic themes as hints of the zombie, vampire, disease, and post-apocalyptic genres work their way into the story. The film is perhaps closest in nature to the aforementioned 28 Days Later as the story of a deadly virus that spread quickly through society, destroying whole civilizations in mere days. I Am Legend isn't quite as good as Danny Boyle's breakthrough film, but it certainly matches it for pace and intensity. Both films faltered slightly in the third act, but both redeem themselves in the last minutes of the movie with a sense of hope after ninety minutes of despair. I Am Legend is a winner, and movie lovers will undoubtedly be pleased with this modern adaptation of a horror classic.
I Am Legend Blu-ray, Video Quality
Warner Brother's effort for their Blu-ray release of I Am Legend is perhaps their best yet, providing viewers with a stunning image quality that is certainly befitting the film. I cannot believe how much better this image looks than the one I saw in theaters. There it was dank, drab, almost colorless. The move from the local theater's presentation to the one at home on Blu-ray is almost like jumping from VHS to 1080p high definition. I really enjoyed this film in theaters, paying close attention, and I am noticing an incredible amount of nuances in the background details I missed in theaters, and obviously at a mere 65", my screen is dwarfed by that in the local multiplex. Whether the print was poor or the theater projected using substandard equipment (my guess would be a bit of each), the image I saw today was a revelation, one definitely benefitting from the razor-sharp resolution and clarity only Blu-ray offers for home viewing.
Unlike those I saw in theaters, colors are rich and vibrant on the Blu-ray. The fire engine red on the Mustang Neville drives at the beginning of the film is marvelously reproduced. Detail in every single shot of the film is strikingly high and real. Black levels are fantastic, producing a deep and dark image, when appropriate, that adds another level of dread to the already frightening proceedings. There is a fine amount of grain visible in certain dark shots, notably those lit only by the light on Neville's M4. The image often presents contrasting light and dark scenes, moving from dark, lifeless interiors or nighttime shots, to scenes filmed in broad daylight. I Am Legend is one more item to add to my list of why I believe Blu-ray is making traditional movie theaters a thing of the past for me. I've been waiting for this movie to hit Blu-ray since the credits rolled at the theater, and the transfer to the format is exemplary.
I Am Legend Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Presented in lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1, I Am Legend never disappoints sonically. It sounds just as good as the image looks, and that's high praise indeed. The soundtrack gets going by creating a pleasant, realistic atmosphere, setting the mood for the loneliness and terror we're about to experience with Dr. Neville. As the movie begins, after we hear the sounds of silence, the sounds of a dead city (the chirping of insects, the rustling of tall, unkempt grass and weeds), the sound stage opens up. We're treated to a fantastic chase sequence that pits animal versus machine as Dr. Neville chases a herd of deer through the streets of a deserted downtown New York City. As his car spins we hear it swirling around in the rear channels. The revving of the engine is also marvelously reproduced. Surrounds are bustling with activity throughout, both with minor ambience and major action pieces. When Neville is in dark quarters, alone, we hear the slightest echo of his heavy, stressed breathing. For a moment I thought I'd hear his heart beating. On the other end of the spectrum, flashback scenes feature helicopters and jets flying across the listening area with great effect and power. Some of the sounds are downright horrifying in lossless audio (in a good way), such as the shrieks of the creatures of the night that roam the streets while Neville and Sam sleep. Sound moves around, even the subtlest of sounds, so effortlessly and seamlessly that it really does make you feel like the last man on Earth. Dialogue reproduction is uniformly excellent from beginning to end as well.
I was also blown away by the quality of the bass. LFE effects are not as powerful as they are in other recent Blu-ray discs, like those heard in Independence Day or Hitman, but they are presented here so cleanly, effectively, efficiently, and naturally that I left the experience more than impressed. I Am Legend definitely proves that bass doesn't have to be completely raucous and loud to be effective. Make no mistake, it'll rattle the windows a few times, but it absolutely never oversteps its bounds, recreating a very realistic sounding--and feeling--experience. Bass rumbles with clarity and presence, on cue, and sounds like every good soundtrack should, reproducing lows as only the best tracks can, and as the rest only wish they could. What few gunshots there are in the movie come mostly from Neville's M4 carbine, and they are appropriately powerful and loud, and they reverberate with the authority and punch heard and felt in real life. A bridge collapse in chapter 18 rocked the listening room and my senses, as did a series of exploding claymores in chapter 23. While not as aggressive as some other mixes, I Am Legend earns a top score for producing a strikingly realistic, horrifying, and well-mixed soundtrack that is one of my favorites yet on the format, and is also definitely demonstration-worthy material.
I Am Legend Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Warner Brothers has brought I Am Legend to Blu-ray with a nice selection of supplements, but fans of the film will be left wanting more. Perhaps the most impressive--and most wanted--special feature is the alternate cut of the film that offers viewers a different ending to the film. I enjoyed that the alternate ending wasn't just tacked on as a standard extra, but integrated into a cut of the film you can watch from beginning to end. Like the rest of the movie, the image looks fantastic and the sound remains Dolby TrueHD 5.1 As for the ending itself, I liked it, but prefer the theatrical ending. Perhaps my reasoning lies in that I've had this movie on my mind for months, pondering the ending I saw in theaters, and have had it grow on me. This new ending is definitely an interesting watch and might please other viewers with its less conventional approach to concluding the story.
Cautionary Tale: The Science of 'I Am Legend' (1080p, 20:41) looks at the real-life science behind some of the ideas presented in the film. Not only do cast and crew discuss the science, but medical doctors, professors, and virologists examine what a virus is and what it can do to a population. This is a fairly technical scientific feature, but it is presented mostly in layman's terms. A minor background in science, say an entry level college biology course, will definitely help in understanding what's going on and being said here. Next up are series of short features that delve into many aspects of the film, including the work of Abby, the German Shepherd seen in the film, to a look at the weapons used by Dr. Neville in the film, and to Smith's physical training for the role. These features generally run several minutes in length, are presented in 480p, and make for some interesting viewing. Four short animated comics, relating to the film and presented in 1080p, conclude the special features.
I Am Legend Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Needless to say, I Am Legend was one of my favorite films of last year, and is certainly one of the better Blu-ray discs currently available. Will Smith and Blu-ray seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly, a natural fit, and his films released on the format this month (including the aforementioned Independence Day and I, Robot) represent what Blu-ray is all about. This disc offers exceptional video and audio quality, as well as a set of supplements that are good, but left me wanting a whole lot more. Still, I've never been one to let a lack of supplements keep me from recommending a film, and I Am Legend is definitely one I think anyone who has an interest in science, action, population-eradicating virus, zombie, vampire, or post-apocalyptic films will enjoy a great deal. To those Blu-ray fans who feel a film such as this is right up their alley, as it is mine, I strongly and very highly recommend I Am Legend on Blu-ray.
I Am Legend: Other Editions
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I Am Legend Blu-ray, News and Updates
• I Am Legend / The Omega Man Double Feature Blu-ray - November 4, 2011
In December, Warner Home Entertainment will repackage their I Am Legend and The Omega Man catalog titles into one Blu-ray double feature set. Separate adaptations of Richard Matheson's classic horror novel I Am Legend, the two films feature Charlton Heston (Ben-Hur) ...
• I Am Legend UCE Dated for December (Updated) - September 2, 2008
Warner Home Video has revealed that the upcoming Blu-ray release of 'I Am Legend: Ultimate Collector's Edition' will be released on December 9th, day-and-date with the DVD re-release. The two disc set will feature both the theatrical and alternate versions of the ...
• I Am Legend Gets Detailed - February 8, 2008
Warner Home Video has revealed specifications and extra features for the Blu-ray release of 'I Am Legend', which is set to be released March 18th, day-and-date with the DVD. The disc will contain two versions of the film - the theatrical cut and an alternate theatrical ...
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