When I first heard about the movie I thought it was a disaster movie but wasn't entirely sure what it was about. The suspense of Will Smith being a lone survivor in NYC was somewhat interesting, but this film tries to be too many things at once and the result is none of them.
~~~THOUGHTS ON PLOT~~~
Humanity thought they could cure cancer by harbouring measles. "Imagine a very fast car being driven on a highway by a bad man. Replace the bad man with a cop, and you have a different picture." (An analogy of what they had done) Three years later, this disease mutated into both airborne and contact strains which caused rabies-like symptoms in both animals and Humans.
Doctor Robert Neville (Will Smith), immune to this disease, remains in NYC to try to find a cure, his only companion being his dog (apparently canines are only affected by the contact strain). Battling mutants, raiding houses for food and talking to mannequins puts strain on his mentality. Just as he reaches breaking point, when he thinks he has lost everything, he is given a sign of hope.
The beginning of the movie attempts to bring suspense- dragging out Neville and Dog's relationship in this barren city, but instead bores and confuses. Whilst it adds to the psychological development of Neville, it doesn't make good cinema. The point when we discover that Human mutants existed turned the movie into a "Zombie" movie (expect loud jumps).
Whilst withholding information from the audience can be used to great effect, I'd much rather the film just lay down all its cards at the beginning. Neville's flashbacks of his family were rather predictable, however provided enjoyment for the most part during the boring scenes at the beginning.
As Neville loses everything, even nearly his sanity, he is given a sign of hope. At this point in the movie, themes such as hope, faith and religion is introduced. This definitely works in the context of the movie, but the discussion is interrupted which leaves these topics hanging and somewhat unresolved until the end.
The ending definitely had symbolism. Whilst these may be far fetched, the idea of one man dying to save everyone else, believing that there is a plan, trusting without "evidence" that people are out there etc etc... in a world dominated by "evil". The idea of curing disease and instead causing mutations resemble ideas from The Tower of Babel. So what is this film trying to get at?
Is it a film about dogs being man's best friend, or his relationship with the dog? Is it a mutant/zombie movie? Is it a virus pandemic movie (like Outbreak) or an apocalyptic movie (Day after tomorrow)? Is it even a religious movie however far fetched? Had the film been more focused on any one of these aspects throughout, it would've been far more successful.
Will Smith- Robert Neville
Alice Braga- Anna
Charlie Tahan- Ethan
Also stars Willow Smith, Salli Richardson-Whitfield and Dash Mihok.
Will Smith brings again a hint of comedy to this movie which I thought is done well, though somewhat overacted. His daughter (who looks identical to Jaden at this point) plays his daughter in the movie getting like two minutes of screen time- she doesn't use her opportunity wisely, though now she has a music career ahead of her (she's nine)!
The dog I have to say is a star. The movements are so personified and you can get a real sense of character from it. Even its whines were appropriate. If only there was an Oscar for animals...
The movie touches on many aspects of different genres but doesn't remain consistent and the result is all over the place. There are nice themes such as relationships and faith embedded but the inclusion of raging zombies kinds of makes this too corny. Either full on raging zombies without the serious stuff or make the zombies more "ill" opposed to cannibalistic. The beginning was extremely boring but it picked up near the end.
Apparently a prequel will be made, scheduled for 2013. Hmm...