December 14, 2007, - 3:45 pm

Weekend Box Office: OK “I Am Legend” Is Only Decent New Release

By Debbie Schlussel
While there are several new releases at the movies, this weekend, the only one worth seeing is “I Am Legend.” And even that one isn’t as great as I expected it to be. The highly overrated “Atonement” is just that–extremely overrated. I did not screen “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” as the critics’ screening was held on the Jewish Sabbath (sorry). Here’s the rundown:
* “I Am Legend“: What if you were the last living human in New York City and perhaps the country or even the universe? That’s the situation Will Smith faces as Robert Neville, the genius Army scientist and doctor, in the year 2012. I liked this movie, even with its faults, because it’s like a modern day Noah’s Ark, where the main character thinks the world will end and loses his faith in G-d. But in the end, his belief is restored and G-d works his miracles.

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A virologist, Smith/Neville finds himself in the aftermath of a cure for cancer gone awry. The vaccine turns humans rabid. And the rabid humans have murdered and/or eaten the rest of the population that hasn’t been killed by the vaccine. Dr. Neville, a virologist, is alive because he’s one of the rare humans immune to the virus caused by the cancer cure.
This movie is worth seeing for the special effects–with Will Smith racing a Bullitt-style Mustang across midtown Manhattan chasing deer he’s hunting for dinner. Times Square is barren of humans and bright lights. Instead, it’s infested with wildlife, including lions, tigers, and deer. Oh, and weeds. New York is overgrown with them. That includes Central Park, which now serves as a giant crop farm for Neville. He’s so alone–and lonely–that he’s placed mannequins at the video rental store he frequents, so he can talk to them. Other than that, he has his dog.
And that’s the interesting part. Then, there’s the part that ruins the movie. At night, Dr. Neville must steel himself and hide from the rabid zombies–the last remainder of infected humans–who feed on and kill humans. The movie is believable until they come in. The computer-generated images are like other rabid zombie and vampire movie–and those have done it better: “28 Days Later” and so many others. The zombies are uninteresting. And just not believable. They are a bad counterbalance to the genius of Dr. Neville and Will Smith’s very convincing acting job in that role.
Seeing Smith as this man alone on earth and how he deals with it is interesting. Except, if you were the last person on earth, the video you watch with your breakfast every morning would not likely be . . . Matt Lauer and Katie Couric on “The Today Show”?! Um, it’s 2012, and Meredith Vieira took over the boring liberal chick chair, long ago. But, hey, the KV Virus does silly things. Also of interest: In 2012, gas is $6.63 per gallon.
Again, the ending of this one is a positive message about those who have faith in a Creator.
* “Atonement“: This movie is getting rave reviews and all kinds of awards from film critics all over the country. And like most such movies, it’s highly overrated. I expected much more. Got very little.
The story: Robbie (James McAvoy), a young medical student of the non-aristocratic class, is in love with the daughter (Keira Knightley) at the mansion where his parents are the help. The daughter reciprocates and they carry on a love affair. But the daughter’s little sister, jealous and immature, makes up a story. She pins the rape of her young cousin on Robbie, who goes to jail for it.
But then the movie strays off into a a different story. Robbie is fighting in World War II in France. We see endless scenes of him walking around war-torn Europe. Then, finally, when we return to the main story, it’s too late.
Aside from that, the loud music and pounding set to go off in time with a typewriter, bombings, and other instances is maddeningly annoying. And, in addition, the last scene of the movie stars Israel-hater/PLO propagandist hag Vanessa Redgrave. The scene is kind of an afterthought, after the whole tangent that makes up the last two-thirds of this long, boring movie.
Skipworthy. And definitely not award-winning stuff. But, hey, it’s British. And if Jimmy Carter had a British accent, they’d give him awards, too. Oh, wait, they have, indeed, given him awards. But like this movie, he didn’t deserve them.
Most over-rated movie of the year. There’s very little “atonement” in this movie, except that your wife or other significant female other will have to do dragging you to this dreadful, high-brow chick flick (which isn’t even entertaining on a chick flick level, let alone otherwise).
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* “The Perfect Holiday“: I’ll never understand why they make Black movies like this. It’s stupid, hokey, inane, and annoying. Frankly, it’s an insult to the Black audiences at whom it’s targeted, because it sends a message that the filmmakers believe this audience is just not sophisticated for anything better.
A single mother (Gabrielle Union) is telling her girlfriends that she is lonely for a man. She wants a man, any man, to just tell her she’s good-looking. Hearing this, her young daughter tells the part-time mall Santa, who just happens to be a very good-looking Black man with singing aspirations. He fulfills the young girl’s wish and, soon, her mother and Santa are dating, except mom doesn’t know he’s Santa. And Santa doesn’t know she is the ex-wife of a nasty rap star, with whom he’s trying to get a deal.
The withholding of info and madcap confusion is as advanced as a typical “Three’s Company” episode, in which Jack Tripper doesn’t tell Chrissy and Janet something important, and mass misunderstandings occur. Haha funny. It’s just absurd. And it’s the stuff of ’80s TV sitcoms, not 2007 silver screen fare. Worst line in this movie (among many bad ones):

Women love a coffee-bean-Black balladeer.

If there’s anything good about this movie, it’s that the rap star ex, J-Jizzy (played by Eddie Murphy’s bro, Charlie Murphy), is a creep and is shown as such. Diddy/Snoop Dogg-esque, he’s a complete dummy, talentless, and a blatant user of his kids for P.R. purposes, who doesn’t care about them. (His rap songs featuer titles like, “I Love Ho Ho Hos” and “I Saw Mommy Cappin’ Santa Claus.”) But that’s not enough to recommend this silly movie.
And it’s hard to believe that someone as kind, caring and smart as Union’s mom character would ever end up with an insufferable egomaniacal rapper like this guy. Also, it’s hard to believe a movie that has a mother and two kids who speak like they are from an upper class neighborhood in Beverly Hills, yet her other kid speaks with the accent of a Black Puerto Rican Barrio in New York. Doesn’t jibe.
Queen Latifah and Terrence Howard co-star as angels who make everything work out. They’re cheesy in this. This movie is about 20 years or more behind the times. And a complete waste of it.
Your Holiday will be far more Perfect without this.
* “Romance and Cigarettes“: It’s easy to see why this John Turturro-written and -directed “musical” sat on the shelf since 2005. It would have been better had it stayed there. And he should stick to acting. This is one of the worst movies of the year.
Starring Susan Sarandon as a wife cheated on by her working-class sleazebag hubby, James Gandolfini, I couldn’t take sitting through this. It’s boring and stupid. And no point in it. Gandolfini’s mistress, Kate Winslet, and his fellow ironworker buddy, Steve Buscemi, talk about some of the most disgusting things and sex moves. The C-word, etc., are most of the dialogue in this “film.” The music and singing just make it worse and even more silly.
Skip at all cost. YUUUUCK!

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12 Responses

I can’t wait to see I Am Legend because I loved the book. However, without the zombies, then it would be Castaway and not I Am Legend.

Blayne on December 14, 2007 at 9:39 pm

Oh man…I was hoping you rip apart the movie you didn’t screen. I’ve seen posters for Alvin and the Chipmunks and I was shaking my head as they looked like the thugs I see all the time on the bus.

Squirrel3D on December 14, 2007 at 9:47 pm

Wow, the first thing I thought when I saw a commercial for “I Am Legend” was “Omega Man”. Sounds like I’m pretty close, eh? Mannequins, fast car ride through deserted city, night time zombie attacks. Gimme Charlton Heston any day tho’
eV
[EV (AND ALL OF THE OTHER COMMENTERS, BELOW): “I AM LEGEND” IS BASED ON THE BOOK OF THE SAME NAME ON WHICH “OMEGA MAN” AND “THE LAST MAN ON EARTH” ARE BASED. SO IT IS A SIMILAR MOVIE, THOUGH PROBABLY NOT AS GOOD AS THE OTHER TWO (BUT GOOD ENOUGH). DS]

excitedVulcan on December 14, 2007 at 10:03 pm

‘I Am Legend’ is a remake of ‘The Omega Man’ starring Charlton Heston which was a remake of ‘The Last Man on Earth’ starring Vincent Price which was based on a book called ‘I Am Legend’ by Richard Matheson. :)

Norman Blitzer on December 15, 2007 at 12:20 am

when are you going to review artie lange beer league, alvin and the chipmunks next there will be a movie about clyde crash cup, stanley the eagle and hoopity hooper give me a break cartoon into movie dont cut it!!!!!!

PNAMARBLE on December 15, 2007 at 6:46 am

Debbie Schlussel’s review of “I AM LEGEND” sure sounds like one of my favorite cult films, “THE OMEGA MAN”, starring Charlton Heston.
Since a couple of others have already made that observation, this post is obviously redundant.
But, I just now created this account, and only wanted to post in order to ensure everything is properly operational.

writesong on December 15, 2007 at 7:18 am

I had been concerned that they might have politicized ‘I am Legend.’ If anyone would have picked up on that, it would have been you. Thanks Deb! I can now safely watch it without being disappointed. The Star Wars movies have been ruined for me since I found out what was behind them.

Gary on December 15, 2007 at 7:25 am

First “I,Robot”, now this.Will Smith and his Politically Correct friends in High Hollywood Places strike again, producing another abomination of a sci-fi classic. Nooooooooo thanks.

OldSchoolW on December 15, 2007 at 11:05 am

‘Omega Man’ has always been one of my favorites, as the ‘Fresh Prince’ has been. I’ll probably like ‘Legend’ as much as you Debbie. You’re always ‘right on’ in your critiques.

countywolf on December 15, 2007 at 11:58 am

I concur with many of your commenters. The first thing I thought about when I saw the ads for “I Am Legend” is “The Omega Man” with Charlton Heston.
Good or bad, when I have the chance I am going to watch “I Am Legend” because I loved the “The Omega Man.”

Theway2k on December 15, 2007 at 10:16 pm

James McAvoy was in the Last King of Scotland, playing a totally feckless bleeding heart liberal. His whiny do-goodism led to nothing but death and destruction. The film really mocked his type–worth a look if only for his portrayal of the kind of guy we all know, and pity.

PJ on December 17, 2007 at 2:51 pm

I wouldn’t really say that James McAvoy played a liberal or at least it wasn’t he do-good deeds that caused his problems. I wouldn’t really say he was much of a do-gooder as it seems to me he leaves Scotland to escape his parents and life than to help the impoverished.
After all, it was when he left his place helping the locals to go galavanting off with Idi Amin, playing politics and living the high life, that things started to go awry for him.
His selfishness and stupidity are wholly evident and his downfall is due to his ignorance and nationalism (although for the manner in which the English treat him, he can hardly be blamed).
Overall I think Last King of Scotland is masterfully played out between the main characters and a film worth seeing more to remind ourselves of dictators we continue to selectively leave in power across Africa and the world, than to pity the immature, stupid young boys we all know.

Luke on December 19, 2007 at 6:28 am

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