"They mostly come out at night…mostly"
Coming from director Francis Lawrence we have the cinematic adaptation of Richard Matheson’s novel and has been in development for years now. It was originally to be directed by Ridley Scott featuring Arnie, except by the time the final details were confirmed Arnie was a big shot governor in some U.S city…
I pretty much know what goes on this film but wanted to see it on the big screen. This was a Boxing Day release so I thought we could wait a week or so before watching it. There would be less chav’s in the cinema and we could actually watch in peace without bloody default Nokia or Sony Ericsson ringtones going off every 10 seconds. It wasn’t too packed so I could really take in the grim reality faced by our protagonist Dr. Robert Neville played superbly by Will Smith.
It is almost everyone’s common fantasy to think you’re the only person left on the planet after a disaster of some kind. All alone in a huge city with no-one for company but your own thoughts. Obviously our human survival instincts will kick in fast, and you will be on a continuous hunt for any survivors – Hope – will be what drives you on. The stark reality is that you won’t last very long, as the human psyche just cannot handle being alone in such a way. The sudden shock of discovering another human is another aspect, which will be difficult for anyone to handle after being isolated for so long. The sole focus is on the psychological torment endured by the protagonist, that and something else…
Spoilers being slightly obvious here, Dr. Neville undergoes similar challenges. The film opens up in New York City, 2012. The city is deserted, with vegetation now pouring in to the streets and wildlife roaming free. Dr.Neville is an ex-military scientist who is in some way responsible for what has happened here. A disease, which was meant to be a cure for cancer had mutated and become a killer. It transformed the majority of mankind in to something that I shall not really go on about here; I’ll leave you to find out.
Dr. Neville has his ever faithful dog, Sam for company and she is the only thing from keeping him from losing his marbles. She can sniff out wildlife (dinner) and he can shoot to kill. They both hunt during the day and shelter during nights in his security heavy home. It’s clear that his sanity is being tested as he openly talks to Sam as if she was human, and then he speaks to department store mannequins in the same manner. The first half of the film is pretty well paced and it slowly sets out what has happened to the world, and in greater detail with flashbacks of what happened on the night of the disaster. Thirty minutes in, and we see exactly what has really finished off the humans. We see some superb, yet tense moments with Sam and Dr. Neville and before you know it the film has ended.
Will Smith in all honestly pulls off his role perfectly as the almost insane Dr. Neville who is plagued with a great deal guilt and remorse. In places it’s hard not to put yourself in his shoes and feel sorry for him, not just for his emotional state in the film, but the weight of the guilt that hangs over him. Deena ended up using my lovely expensive coat to dry her tears in some areas of the film, which annoyed the hell out of me… Smith pulled off Dr. Neville’s emotions perfectly. Sadly the film is partially ruined by CGI scenes. A deserted New York City is hauntingly eerie, but CGI elements just failed to blend in to the film too well.
Those who read the novel will probably be angered that Hollywood has butchered it good and proper, and who can blame them but those who haven’t read the novel will possibly end up doing so as a result. I know I will.