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I Am Legend

I Am Legend

Released: December 14, 2007

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I Am Legend>

I Am Legend
Varese Sarabande (302 066 878 2)

Released: January 15, 2008

Format: CD (44 min)

Compilation Albums

Varese Sarabande: A 35th Anniversary Celebration>

Varese Sarabande: A 35th Anniversary Celebration
Varese Sarabande (302 067 185 2 / VSD-7185)

Released: May 7, 2013

Format: CD (5 hr, 9 min)


Song Credits

"THREE LITTLE BIRDS"
Written by Bob Marley
Performed by Bob Marley & The Wailers
Courtesy of The Island Def Jam Music Group
Under License from Universal Music Enterprises


"FLYING TALKING DONKEY" from SHREK
Written by Harry Gregson-Williams and John Powell
Courtesy of DreamWorks Animation L.L.C.


"I SHOT THE SHERIF"
Written by Bob Marley


"STIR IT UP"
Written by Bob Marley
Performed by Bob Marley & The Wailers
Courtesy of The Island Def Jam Music Group
Under License from Universal Music Enterprises


"REDEMPTION SONG"
Written by Bob Marley
Performed by Bob Marley & The Wailers
Courtesy of The Island Def Jam Music Group
Under License from Universal Music Enterprises

Movie Review: I Am Legend (Special Edition / Blu-ray Release)

by Dan Goldwasser
on March 22nd, 2008
[3 / 5] printable

Loosely based on the classic Richard Matheson post-apocalyptic story of survival, I Am Legend follows Dr. Robert Neville (Will Smith), a military scientist who is the last man alive in New York City after a deadly virus ravages humankind. He spends his days in Manhattan hunting deer for food, watching DVDs, noting locations of supplies throughout the island, sending out radio messages to any other possible survivors, and generally trying to live life as best he can with his faithful dog Sam. But at night, he locks himself in his secure townhouse in Union Square because there are other things out there in the dark - creatures that only come out at night. The Infected. These monsters are humans who weren't killed by the virus that swept across the planet, and Neville seems to have some kind of immunity to the contagion, so he has been working on a cure in hopes of reversing the disease. But when he captures a creature in hopes of trying out his latest potential vaccine, he discovers that there might be more to these creatures than meets the eye - and that he might not be alone after all.

Directed by Francis Lawrence (Constantine) and written by Akiva Goldsman and Mark Protosevich, I Am Legend keeps the original concept of the Matheson novel, but strays heavily from it, especially the last half of the film. The creatures don't speak, and the over-reliance on CGI to portray them kept making me think of The Mummy and I, Robot. The visuals showing an abandoned New York City are excellent, and utterly convincing. How things came to be the way they are (at least Neville's situation) is hinted at in flashback sequences, which provide a nice emotional framework for the film. Smith's characterization on Neville is well done, and you certainly can feel his isolation - especially when he suffers a few tragic losses through the course of the movie. Composer James Newton Howard's score is generally subtle and provides soft emotional support through a tender piano-based theme.

Released on DVD in two forms (a regular edition and a two-disc "special edition") and on Blu-ray disc, I Am Legend features an alternate version which contains a different ending to the film. This new ending is actually closer in tone to the Matheson novel, and while it could be seen as more of a "happy ending", it actually adds a lot more weight to the events occurring in the film up until that point. After watching it, the original theatrical ending feels tacked on and rushed; if you have a choice, definitely pick this new alternate ending. On DVD, the movie is presented on two discs, each for a different version. On Blu-ray, seamless branching is used to allow you to pick which version you want to watch.

The video transfer for the film is excellent, as is expected for any movie made these days. There is almost no grain to be found, and the Blu-ray image is exceptionally crisp and sharp. This is actually a slight detriment, since many of the visual effects shots feel a bit too clean and artificial. Otherwise, though, the color saturation is solid, flesh-tones are spot-on, and scenes that take place in the dark are displayed with great detail. Audio is presented in Dolby TrueHD English 5.1, and then Dolby Digital 5.1 in English, French and Spanish. (Note that the "alternate versions" only provides English audio in both Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital.) The sound mix is generally subtle, creating an immersive soundscape, and dialogue is clear and front-and-center. When the action sequences come in, it's a very engaging audio track, throwing you right in the middle of the mayhem.

The extras on this "special edition" are not as in-depth as I would have hoped. On the Blu-ray disc, there are 21 mini-featurettes (running about 50-minutes) comprising the "Creating I Am Legend" documentary. This is really just a bunch of separated mini-docs that look at various aspects of the production, generally in casting, production, stunts, shooting in New York, and stuff like that. It's not really presented in any logical order, and while there is a "Play All" option, it feels more disjointed than if you just did one at a time. They do talk with Richard Matheson, and look at some of the differences between the film and his novel and previous film adaptations of the novel - a nice touch. I wish there was more about the actual development about this film being made - there could have been some kind of discussion about Ridley Scott's development of the project, and all the various attempts to start it up over the years. There is almost nothing on post production, with very little exploration into the impressive visual effects to make New York look truly vacant, and there is nothing about the music. All of these featurettes are included on the DVD release only as a DVD-ROM feature.

A 20-minute long documentary "Cautionary Tale: The Science of I Am Legend" takes a scientific look at viruses, contagions and plagues. It's interesting stuff, but doesn't really talk about how the science was integrated into the film. Four "animated comics" are also included, in HD, showing how the virus in I Am Legend affected people in different areas of the planet. It runs a little over 20-minutes, and doesn't have anything to do with the film, but shows a little slice of apocalyptic life around the globe. No deleted scenes are included, and even though we get the "alternate ending", it would have been interesting to see the two other endings that they shot as well. There is no commentary track and no trailers.

The behind-the-scenes featurettes certainly provide a lot of good insight into the making of the film, but it could have been more - and with a lot of standard extras missing from this "special edition", it's likely that there might be a double-dip sometime in the coming years. There are rumors of an I Am Legend 2 in the pipeline, and hopefully when that comes out, we'll get a more fully fleshed out exploration of the making of this film - warts and all. Other than that, it's a solid transfer, relatively enjoyable movie (with the alternate ending being the preferred version), and enough extras to give you a taste of what it took to make it.

Movie Review: I Am Legend

by Dan Goldwasser
on December 4th, 2007
[3 / 5] printable
It's always pleasant when you leave a movie feeling as though it exceeded your expectations. I will admit that my expectations for I Am Legend weren't very high. The latest attempt at adapting Richard Matheson's now-classic tale of the last man on earth stars Will Smith as Dr. Robert Neville, a military scientist who seems to be the only human left after a virus has killed off most of the people on the planet, and made the rest into violent rabid-like creatures who have an aversion to daylight and a desire for human blood. Searching for a cure, he is alone in New York City, with his faithful dog Sam, and still holds out dwindling hope that there are other survivors like himself.

The film differs from the book in many areas (primarily in the aspect of the relationship between Neville and the creatures he's trying to cure), and the last half of the film has an almost completely different plot. Directed by Francis Lawrence (Constantine) the film does a great job showing the isolation and solitary existence that Neville's life has become. Lengthy shots that follow him through the barren and weed-covered streets of New York City are evocative and very well done. In fact, most of the highlights of the film involve the contrast of the post-outbreak empty New York City with Neville's flashbacks to when Manhattan was declared a quarantine, and the frenetic evacuation sequence reminds me a lot of Spielberg's War of the Worlds - but that's a good thing.

There are lots of great creepy moments, and the use of shadow and light is great - especially in a sequence when Sam runs into a dark building. Where the film strays, though, is in making the nocturnal creatures completely CGI - they feel artificial, and it just doesn't work as a convincing effect, especially with the "leader" of the creatures, who seems more like the wide-mouthed mummy in The Mummy than a scary vampiristic creature. James Newton Howard's score is minimalist and subdued, with tender piano passages underscoring much of the emotional beats, and some high octane percussion during a few action sequences. But there is a lot of silence in the film - which goes a long way in selling Neville's isolation in the former city that "never sleeps", and it's the mood that is created that makes I Am Legend an effective thriller.


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