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MouthShut Score

85%
3.69 

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When is Horror not Horror?
May 12, 2008 09:39 AM 2758 Views

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"oh dear!"… I'm finding it hard to progress from this to a full review. but I have to. Shall I start with the'Good News'? And the'Good News' is but a single point and that is Will Smith is phenomenal actor! It's the only quality that makes this film watchable, without him injecting humanity and feeling into playing the roll of Robert Neville, the film would be a lost cause.'Bad News'? There's plenty of that! Shall I entertain you?


My first point is that we've seen this all before, at least this post-apocalyptic vision of the world. Starting with'Day of the Triffids', through to George Romero's work(of which I adore) and the'28 series'('28 Days Later' and'28 Weeks Later'), all of which are much better than this. In fact I will go as far as saying that this is mainstream Hollywood's convulsion(in reaction) to the UK filmed and funded'28-series'. For those of us who loved the first two films, '28 months later' IS on it's way! But the parallel is uncanny. In'28 days later' we see the source of the infection at the start of the film; in'I Am Legend' the source is insinuated by TV News Interview with a Doctor(Emma Thompson) who has cured Cancer(the side effect of which is a mutant virus that alters us peaceful flower loving types into rapid, hairless, motley grey, human flesh hungry animals). In'28 days later' we see a desolate London, main sites empty…. no signs of life or humanity(the footage is real in this case, was home for me and so felt a little unnerving) and in'I Am Legend' it's the same scenario with Manhattan. But I also feel that they are trying to feed off of Romero's fan base too. Romero's chosen vehicle for presenting current social issues are the Living Dead. I, for one, love these films but I recognise that this full and rich type of horror movie may not suit everyone's taste and maybe'I Am Legend' manages to deliver some of those thoughts/vibes, without confronting viewers with full-on gore and spatter. I'm talking about the concept of presenting viewers with'a' drastic consequence to playing good with nature; in this case "We have cured Cancer"= Virally contracted corruption of the genetic gene pool resulting in more nastiness than'Sound of Music'( I jest.).


My second point is that it drags! Most Apocalyptic Earth stories don't drag your face through dreariness for too long before taking you on a roller coaster of thrills and spills(and sense of impending doom). But this drags for rough 40 minutes before we get into anything'scary' and after that it drags until we get into a cycle events that wind their way to the climax. You will find that most films of this genre are in total no longer than one hour thirty because they are trying to make a point and are not designed to show case a star actor with a silver lining redemption tale.


My third point is that it IS a redemption tale… is that bad? Well not if you are looking for something that shows the spirit of man coming good and finally redeeming a seemingly irredeemable situation. But… that's not what these types of films are all about. The intent of this genre(new word, learnt it this weekend, the use of it sounds impressive at cocktail parties) is to shock the viewer, to unnerve and hopefully provoke awareness in issues. Basically to stop unquestioning acceptance of things that happen in society. I promise here to review some of Romero's works and also the'28-series' to give you an idea.


My fourth point are the special effects. The infected human beings were less than realistic. As I said earlier they are grey, mottled and slightly translucent. They look far too much like they are computer generated. Again other films of this GENRE, we are shocked by the fact that infected/zombies are quite clearly identifiable as ex-human beings. This has the shock effect that WE could become like them… one of them. It's hard to identify your current physical state with that of becoming an over done grey computer graphic(how ever sophisticated and clever).


My fifth point is a conflict/inconsistency in the script. Robert Neville(Will Smith) very clearly states on his video diary that these ex-humans have lost ALL social ability and behaviour of humans. BUT he gets caught in a trap that THEY have copied from him and the infected also let their'pet' infected dogs loose on him and his dog, Sam. But weren't they supposed to be devoid of humanity? Do non-humans have pet/guard/hunting animals? Am I just picky?


My sixth point is lack of action/excitement. After a while you do lose patience with the fact that very little is going on and that the promise of suspense and thrills is just not realised.


My seventh point is Robert Neville's House/HQ. The house is a fortress. How did he modify this building without falling prey to the infected and how does it have a full laboratory in it's basement(fully equipped too). I'm just so lost with this, in a world that has been so suddenly and violently thrust into a post-apocalyptic state that here's a man totally equipped to deal with it. He's even conducting vaccination trials down there!


I'll stop there because you'll think I'm on a mission. If you do choose to watch this film then do it to watch an amazing acting talent like Will Smith but not for the film itself. If you are heeding my words well and you are prepared for very graphic horror then watch the original'28 Days Later' &'28 Weeks Later'. If you want to see where all these movies owe their existence too then go back to Romero's vision, it's not very nice at all but that's what this GENRE is all about!


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