Saturday, December 15, 2007

Will Smith is Legend

Let's get this straight upfront: "I Am Legend" is a fantastic movie (kudos to all involved) but it's not Richard Matheson's "I am Legend." It is based on the source material, as was "The Omega Man" with Charlton Heston but it is not the book. Which is okay. That means there's still the opportunity to make the right movie.

Anyone who knows me - and I mean really knows me, not the ones who look at my book jacket and think that blonde chick is really me because I don’t even have blonde hair anymore - knows I adore Will Smith and “I am Legend” was, without question, one of the most anticipated movies of the season for me.

The first 2/3 of the movie in which Will roams the city with his dog and experiments on the zombie/vampire creatures, convinced he can cure them, is brilliant, absolutely fascinating. I totally bought Smith in the role of virologist Robert Neville and I really wanted to see him succeed with the creatures. His interaction with the dog - the last living connection he has to his dead wife and daughter - is touching. The CG effects were amazing. The filmmakers turned NYC into a wasteland in a most beautiful and intriguing way. The attention paid to detail was inspiring.

That being said - and make no mistake, Will is wonderful in this movie - the story takes a turn from a dark post-apocalypytic flm into Hollywoodland the moment the woman and the boy show up. Until then, I was with Will and his plight; honestly, if they continued making the movie as it had been written in the book, Will Smith would have been a shoo-in for Oscar. Not that he won't be - they will probably nominate him and might even give it to him to make up for "The Pursuit of Happyness" being overlooked.

In an LA Times article, Akiva Goldsman, the movie's writer-producer, said he didn't believe in totally hopeless endings which is, I believe, the reason for the unlikely uplift at the end. I don't mind keeping things on the positive side but not at the expense of the story. Maybe the movie just needed to be longer so that Smith's Neville could have grown into the hero he suddenly becomes instead of instantly being self-sacrificing. I would have bought that and heck, giving Will Smith more screen time is always a good thing.

It won't be much of a surprise to see this movie hit the top of the charts worldwide; it absolutely has a universal appeal,. For anyone who ever doubted it, Will Smith has officially succeeded Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis and all the other massively huge actors out there. He is the new face of megastardom. And I couldn't be happier.

Your Hollywood connection,