tek's rating: ¾

I Am Legend (PG-13)
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This came out in 2007, but I didn't see it until 2016. It's based on a 1954 novel by the same name, which I haven't read. (But apparently the novel had previously been adapted into at least a couple of other movies with different titles, as well as inspiring the whole zombie genre of horror movies, including Night of the Living Dead.) Anyway... this movie definitely reminded me of the movie 28 Days Later. But I wouldn't really call the creatures in this movie "zombies" (though some might). And um... I wasn't quite sure how to categorize it. It's certainly scary, in some parts, but mostly it's a post-apocalyptic movie.

In 2009, a doctor named Alice Krippin (Emma Thompson) engineers a cure for cancer, by reprogramming the measles virus. Flash forward to 2012, and apparently there is only one man left in New York City: an Army virologist named Lt. Col. Robert Neville (Will Smith). By day, he and his dog, Sam, go out into the city and... well, Neville does various things. By night, they stay indoors, away from the creatures that only come out when the sun goes down. We occasionally see flashbacks to when Neville's wife, Zoe (Salli Richardson, whom I know from Eureka), and young daughter, Marley (Smith's own daughter, Willow Smith), were among the many evacuees from the city, getting away from the virus born of Krippin's "cure," which had ended up mutating people into monsters (called Darkseekers). In the present, Neville, who is immune to the virus, is trying to develop a cure from his own blood. He's been trying to do so for the past three years, without any success. And it starts to seem as if his grip on reality might be slipping.

Eventually, something happens that basically makes Neville give up. But before he can be killed by Darkseekers, he's rescued by a woman named Anna (Alice Braga). He wakes up the next morning in his home, which is now shared by Anna and a young boy named Ethan (who is of no importance to the plot whatsoever). Anna and Ethan had heard Neville's radio broadcast, which was on constant repeat, and stopped into the city on their way to a survivor's colony in Vermont. Anna wants Neville to join them, but he doesn't believe the colony exists. Also, he's unwilling to abandon his efforts to find a cure. So he intends to remain in New York. And... that's all I want to say about the plot.

I thought the movie was really good. Definitely more of a drama film than a horror film, though the horror aspect was quite good, too. But mainly I just thought Robert Neville was a really good character, with whom it was impossible not to deeply sympathize. And there's a good ending to the film (with narration by Anna that finally explains the title). On a more personal note, I watched the movie a few days after the 2016 presidential election, when I, like many other Americans, was still in a state of shock and horror about the outcome. And there were already reports from all over the country of various hate crimes (and hate vandalism). I think when I started the movie, I was probably vaguely thinking that our country could be entering an apocalypse of sorts, and as the movie progressed, I started thinking of racists (and other sorts of bigots) as mutant monsters, or something. And in the days between the election and my watching the movie, I was aware that we'd all have to step up and work harder than ever to fight against bigotry, so... it really struck a chord with me when Neville related a story about Bob Marley (after whom his daughter was named) having been shot, and later going on with a concert. He quoted Marley as saying, "The people who were trying to make this world worse are not taking a day off. How can I? Light up the darkness." I just think that's very apt, for our present situation. So I'm glad I chose to watch the movie when I did.

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