Time: 101 mins.
Genre: Drama/Science Fiction
SYNOPSIS: Robert Neville, a military scientist, is the lone survivor of a biochemical disease which was supposed to cure cancer 3 years previous. With only blood thirsty zombies as his neighbors and his trusty dog, Samantha, Robert is trying to discover a cure for this disease and to find out any other people who might have also survived.
BOTTOM LINE: A film that could have gone really wrong, but actually exceeded my expections – which weren't very high. I wasn't excited to sit through another end of the world saga, especially one staring Will Smith as the only human actor and yet his performace made it extremely compelling. Much like Tom Hanks in CASTAWAY, talking to yourself onscreen for hours on end is quite a challenge for both the actor and the audience to endure. Sure, in this case Smith has his pet dog as a foil, but it's not like the dog was talking back (though it did give one hell of a performance). His loneliness and guilt are palpable, giving great depth to a fairly thin plot, which basically has him continuing to attempt to develop a cure for the horror – turning what's left of humanity into bloodthirsty zombies. The fact that they are trying to eat him for lunch only adds to the pressure.
The logistics of actually filming this in New York City is mind-boggling, which makes the visuals of an empty city all the more impressive. Sure, some of it must have been CGI, but it's done so well it makes his plight – being alone in a city that once housed millions – seriously sad and mentally debilitating. I hate being by myself for one night. Couldn't imagine sleeping in my bathtub with my dog and a shotgun waiting to die night after night for three years. His persistence in searching for other survivors eventually pays off, but it's too late to save him. He's pushed past regular human interaction, focused merely on correcting the wrong he helped perpetrate on the world before he is killed or goes insane. His fervor gets a bit heavy-handed in the final third of the film, but it's not totally out of place considering what he's had to go through for so long.
While there's not a great deal of action, his various encounters with the zombies certainly have you on the edge of your seat. They are relentless and remourseless, yet still human enough to make you almost feel sorry for them. Especially since they don't exactly have the best quality of life either. Hiding in the dark, eating whatever random creature they can get their hands on. The make-up effects are effectively scary and creepy for the minimal amount of screentime they actually have. Just the knowledge that they're out there is almost enough and works fairly well for the first hour of the movie. Having not read the original novel, this adaptation was good enough for me to want to seek it out. The ending was a bit obvious for my tastes, but it gives the story a touch of hope and closure, which is nice after all the terror. For a film with such little dialogue and only one real character, it delivers an intense ride you won't soon forget.