I'd been looking forward to this movie since we saw a trailer in the theater, but I was doomed to wait for DVD release. My wife doesn't do scary movies, and the bad guys were just a little too creepy for her. Netflix deposited the DVD in my mailbox last week, and I could hardly wait for my wife to go to work this weekend so I could pop it into the player. Last night I hurried the girls to bed, poured myself the last of the Coors (Blue Moon) Pumpkin Ale, and settled in.
For those that may have missed the multi-million dollar advertising campaign surrounding this film, Will Smith plays a military scientist who is the sole human survivor in New York after a mutated virus sweeps through the city, infected 90% of the population and turning them essentially into zombies. Smith works diligently to develop a treatment for the virus using his own naturally immune blood as a starting point. For three long years he's tried variant after variant of vaccine before he gets a glimmer of hope--but is it to late? Will humankind survive? Or will all be lost in a mutant surge of voracious zombie creatures?
I like Will Smith. I grew up watching Fresh Prince, and listening to DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince albums. I've enjoyed watching him come of age from that dorky teenager, to heroic superstar in Independence day, to more thoughtful roles like those in Legend of Bagger Vance and Pursuit of Happyness. I was expecting a lot of Smith in this film, because as far as characters go, he's it. He has to carry the film because there are sparingly few other humans in the film.
Unfortunately, I wasn't blown away by this film like I was hoping. Smith does a really good job of portraying what it must be like if a man were thrust into the situation described. But I never connected with his character. In fact I cared more for the dog than any other character in the film. Which is kind of scary since the point of the film was that the entire human race was hanging in the balance. The ending was just a little too tidy for me. While I felt the movie was trying to build to a capitulation using flashbacks and prior events intersecting on one climatic scene--much like the film Signs with Mel Gibson or Dragonfly with Kevin Costner--the end fell flat on its face. It just didn't work.
One aspect I would have liked to have seen developed a tad bit more was the fact that the virus was man made, created to cure all ills. And when humankind thought they'd conquered God, it all came tumbling down around them.
Rated PG-13, the film is bloody, and full of creepy, very cranky subhumans. Lots of people die. The main character contemplates suicide, (wouldn't you?). All this is really run of the mill though, given what we're force fed by media today. I think the biggest concern with this film is the sense of utter hopelessness and isolation.
I'm sad to say, after high hopes, I give this film a C.