I am Legend

No, this isn’t a self-congratulatory introduction to our new blog; it’s the new Will Smith movie we saw last night…..

Legend sees Will Smith playing Dr. Robert Neville, a brilliant military scientist unable to contain a virus that has successfully turned 90% of human race into carnivorous zombies who only exist in the dark, devouring or infecting anyone or anything in their path (except deer, apparently.) Mankind’s last, best hope, Neville spends his days scavenging for food and supplies and sending out radio messages. He also captures infected individuals and conducts tests on them in a science lab under his Washington Square home. Yet all the while, the Infected lurk in the shadows, watching Neville’s every move, waiting for him to make a fatal mistake……

[youtube:http://youtube.com/watch?v=gkyT1vir_fg 450 450]

Sadly, the movie isn’t a particularly good one – though there are a handful of seriously tense and jump-worthy moments. You come away thinking wistfully of what might have been, had the producers paid more attention to things like, oh, I don’t know, plot? Frankly it’s all been done before, and done better, by movies like 28 Days Later. Partly it fails because the film makers chose not to be faithful to the central premise of the book – in the book, vampires have a legend of a daywalker (Neville) who comes out of the light to prey on them……A neat twist, dontcha think?

Will Smith is good (though it is a bit like watching Castaway after a while.) But where I am Legend really excels is its re-creation of a post-apocalyptic New York. Locations included the Brooklyn Bridge, Marcy Avenue Armory in Williamsburg, the Tribeca section of Lower Manhattan, the aircraft carrier Intrepid, the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx, Washington Square Park, and St. Paul’s Cathedral.

The scene on Brooklyn Bridge is particularly impressive, serving as a flashback of New York’s citizenry evacuating the city. Apparently the filmmakers had to meet requirements from fourteen government agencies. The shoot over six nights also involved 250 crew members and 1,000 extras, including 160 National Guard members, several Humvees, three Stryker armored vehicles, a 110-foot cutter, a 41-foot utility boat, and two 25-foot Response Boat Small craft. This scene alone cost the studio $5 million – the most expensive shot in New York to date – and serves as absolute proof of what cities are prepared to suffer in order to create jobs and stimulate the economy.