I've always had a preference for reading the book before I go see the movie. Sometimes this makes movie going frustrating, as the film rarely meet expectations after you have read the book. One notable exception was What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson. The slim novel was a great read and was greatly enhanced by the visual effects of the movie. Because of this, I had high hopes for I am Legend, also written by Richard Matheson. Too bad my hopes were crushed.
***SPOILER ALERT***The Book:
I am Legend is a short novel, almost a short story really. It follows the life of the main character who has survived a plague. The plague is a bacteria that turns the living into vampires that are slightly smarter then their dead counterpart, and are constantly trying to attack our hero. Matheson does a superb job with character development, following the character through his routine of self preservation, killing vampires, searching for a cure and trying to prevent himself from going mad during his ordeal.
The best part of I am Legend was the very thing that sets it apart from all the other vampire stories you've heard. Our hero has been going out and killing off the vampires in his neighborhood. What he doesn't know is that the living vampires have actually been creating a new society. In their realm of understanding, he is a murderer and a criminal, bent on destroying their families and way of life. He is eventually captured and put on trial for his crimes.
It is a shame that the one thing that set the book apart was apparently not important enough to make it into the movie. I'm afraid to say, this movie was just another action/horror genre flick that will be quickly forgotten.
Will Smith does do a good job of creating a character and holding the movie together despite having the screen to himself for a good portion of the film. The action scenes are decent, the vamps are shallow in character but acceptable. Someone decided to alter the ending to include a religious twist that I thought was both unnecessary and untrue to the original story. The main character's daughter plays a small role in the movie that is crucial to the new ending but the foreshadowing is so transparent, I puked a little in my mouth.
Overall, I give the book four out of five stars but the movie gets a begrudging three out of five.