Monday, December 31, 2007

Legend, I am

No, not that one, this one.

Okay, Mary and I finally went to see I am Legend on New Years Eve, and now I'm going to give my thoughts on this movie. This is not a review, but a discussion, so there's going to be spoilers galore. If you have any inclination to see this movie stop reading now and click the Penny Arcade link to the right or something. Read some webcomics or whatever, but don't continue reading.

You sure you've seen it? Spoilertz ahead, I'm serious.

The dog dies. There, now are you happy? You kept reading and now I've spoiled the epic tear-inducing part of the movie for you. It would've been like Return of the King Hobbit-sad, but now you know about it so it won't be as good when you see it. Keep reading and I'll wreck the whole thing for you, shit-for-brains.

Alright, so we've got action star Will Smith (awesome), in a survivalist situation (double awesome), in a city filled with vampires that only come out at night a la Castlevania II:Simon's Quest (triple super awesome). Now that's a recipe for the Live Free or Die Hard Award if I've ever heard it. Unfortunately, the producers cut one too many corners and stupefied an otherwise cool flick. The following rant is specifically for the producers of this movie.

The CGI zombires (zombie vampires). Son of a bitch. The movie's enemies are virus-infected vampires that are all Nosferatu-like and crawly, not dinosaurs or cosmic tentacled horrors. There is absolutely no need to use CGI for the zombires. None. CGI for the abandoned city? Sure, absolutely, can't even tell. But can I tell that the Master Zombire, that they show 47 close-ups of screaming, is CGI? Hell yes I can. My semi-blind guinea pig can tell. Its gotta be more of a pain in the ass to attempt to make a CGI human than it is to just hire a dude and put some makeup on him to scream into the camera. It must somehow be cheaper though, and it sure as hell looks like it.

To get Will Smith for your action movie with city-wide zombie-vampire attacks and then use CGI zombires is like serving Fillet Minion on a paper plate with plastic silverware. The first time the screeners watched the initial movie draft and they saw the cartoon zombie scream at Will Smith did they think "Holy shit that Disney-animated bad guy looks great! I'm glad we didn't go with the obvious and much better idea of hiring Iggy Pop and putting a bald cap and Spock ears on him!" There has got to be plenty of shirtless heroin addicts out in LA who are willing to wear bald caps and Spock ears for a few bucks, what the hell were these guys thinking? Way to wreck a possible Oscar contender with taking the cheap route. Those boss fight scenes were worse than the mass Agent Smith attack in Matrix:Reloaded.

Maybe the Shreck guys did the zombires or something, because there was also a lot of Shreck references in the movie that I thought only served to show how shitty the zombires looked. The camera stays on a TV playing Shreck for like 5 minutes of the movie as if to say "See? CGI is great! The zombires are the same high-end technology that produced Shreck! You like Shreck! The monsters aren't even real actors, even though hiring real actors would make perfect sense! If it ain't broke...break it with CGI! Buy a green slurpie!" All the Shreck business only drove home the point that the infected people weren't even people. I'll accept the CGI lions, real lions are difficult to get to act, but CGI technology just isn't good enough to do realistic zombie/vampire people yet. Fortunately, there are over 6.5 billion people on the planet that can stand in as realistic zombie/vampire people in a movie in the meantime (see: 30 Days of Night).

So they dumbed-down the "Legend" storyline. That's fine, artists interpretation and all that. I'm fine with the storyline changed (for those that are unfamiliar, in the book Neville is a "Legend" to the not-completely crazy infected zombires, as he doesn't know there are "good zombires" and hunts them as well as the bad ones and they consider him a sort of daytime boogeyman). The movie also seemed about a half hour too short, but that's okay. Had it been another half hour, they probably would've just filled it in with extreme close-up shots of the CGI Master Zombire face growling at the camera or puzzling out a way to use a doorknob.

So there you have it. I know you all loved the movie, but for me it was a shining example of stupid executive decisions ruining an otherwise perfect setup. Will Smith is still awesome in this movie though, even if we didn't get to hear the trademark "Aww hell naw!"

PS: For a more in-depth analysis, see Paul's review. For nit-picky complaints about the military equipment in the movie instead of the CGI zombies, see Brando's review.