Tuesday, June 03, 2008

B.W. At The Movies: Fixing 'I Am Legend'

So this is how the recent film I Am Legend was supposed to end, not with Will Smith's character blowing away the "bad guys" but with a moment of understanding:

According to Cracked.com's "5 Awesome Movies Ruined by Last-Minute Changes," this ending didn't play well with test audiences, so they replaced it with the scene in which Smith suicide-bombs his lab, killing himself and all of the attackers after packing his companions away in a place where the flames won't reach them. As Cracked points out:
This brings up the other problem, which is that all of the little hints that had been inserted along the way indicating the creatures had intelligence (the complex traps they set, the same creature reappearing in some kind of leadership role) are completely ignored. In the new ending, the vampires are mindless savages with no other purpose but general horror movie mayhem.

Perhaps the saddest thing about all this is that it shows that no one involved really believed in the message of the final product. They didn't produce a film in order to convey any kind message, they just strung together a bunch of cool scenes and called it a movie.
The original ending has its own set of problems. I'd probably be happier with a line or two where Smith's character explains his new understanding — I'm not sure it would be that clear to someone not familiar with the story. But it certainly makes more sense than the final product.

To me, the released version of I Am Legend is one of the most senseless disappointments in movie history. But who am I to argue with the makers of a film that has grossed $256 million and currently stands at #41 on the all-time chart? "If you dumb it down, they will come?" Since the original ending wasn't given a shot, we'll never know.



Anonymous lewlew said...

I didn't watch your video, so I can't comment on the alternate ending; I decided to not see I am Legend after my son's viewing of it. He was so excited about the movie, and he waited a long time to receive the book through the library's reserve system. He wanted to read the story before watching the movie on the big screen.

The book was interesting and puzzling to him; it made him think.

He went to the theatre and watched the movie, and the first thing he said after seeing it was "The vampires didn't talk; it ruined the story." There was a reason why the author's creatures, and his solo isolation, were so frightening and the story hits you in the gut. The movie making team missed the boat on this one.

2:23 AM  
Blogger B.W. Richardson said...

I forgot to make the point that I have seen one of the earlier film adaptations of the story, an extremely low-budget B movie called "The Last Man on Earth" with Vincent Price. Despite the limitations - the vampires talk but it's not great art - it's a more compelling version than this new version. Just got "The Omega Man" from Netflix and will see how the story was interpreted in the '70s.

Your son had the right idea - I still haven't read Richard Matheson's novel, which no doubt is the best telling of the story hands down. My brain doesn't always work in logical patterns.

6:03 AM  

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