I Am Legend (2007)

Rated: PG-13
Length: 100 Minutes
Grade: ACBB+=B
Budget: $150 million
Box Office: $256 million US, $327 million Int’l

Directed by: Francis Lawrence, who previously made Constantine and a bunch of music videos for Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, and Green Day.
Starring: Will Smith, Alice Braga, Charlie Tahan, Willow Smith, and Kona and Abby as Sam the German Shepherd.

When a drug is invented that will cure cancer, it suddenly transforms into a deadly virus that kills most people and turns the rest into something like vampires. Will Smith was the colonel in charge of the response, and he is also the last man alive in New York City trying to still find a cure.

Entertainment Value: A
I was captivated throughout this movie, which, even though it’s in the zombie-flick genre, doesn’t feel like that sort of a movie to me. It’s got just the right amount of suspense, action, character development, and ming-boggling CGI scenes. A few of the plot points were either not well-explained or else implausible, such as that the one guy who’s immune also happens to be the guy in charge of handling the epidemic. But otherwise, excellent.

Superficial Content: C
Drugs/Alcohol A, Sexuality B, Violence D, Language B, Illegality A
It’s a zombie/vampire movie, okay? So, obviously the main issue is going to be deformed creatures engaging in disturbing and violent behavior and scary stuff, at least some of the time. But I think PG-13 is correct. This is a film that would definitely give younger kids nightmares, and it may even do so for older kids. It sort of did for me, even. There is some profanity, and there was a scene with an infected women shown nearly naked on an examining table, but it’s certainly not an arousing scene at all.

Significant Content: B
Mankind can destroy itself with technology, and the destruction is likely to come from good intentions rather than from bad. Nonetheless, mankind can also save itself from the apocalypse, at least maybe they can. But the real gem in this movie that I certainly didn’t expect to find was that God is still working in the world and choreographing things according to a plan no matter how much it doesn’t seem to be the case. Also, Bob Marley is given high praise as demonstrating the spirit of an overcomer and living his belief in the human spirit to solve the world’s problems problems.

Artistic/Thought Value: B+
I really enjoyed the scenes of New York overgrown and returning to a wild condition. The use of music and the pacing of the movie were excellent. It’s also a movie about pride in that Smith keeps telling people and himself that he is able to solve this problem himself. But some of the best thought value here is going to be the discussion about God and His timing and role in a world this devastated.

Discussion Questions:
~Smith repeatedly says that he can fix this problem. Is this confidence, arrogance, pride, or self-delusion?
~Is the idea of a plague that wipes out 90% of all people and turns the rest into vampires compatible with your ideas about who God is and what God would allow? In what ways would you say this is a pro-theistic movie, and in what ways not?
~Can you explain why Smith does what he does on the dock at night?
~Discuss Smith’s interactions with the mannequins and at the video store. How might maintaining a semblance of superficial order and normality help people in traumatic circumstances keep from losing their minds?
~Does this movie scare you? Why, exactly?
~Why are we so fascinated with movies predicated on biological experimentation and disaster?
~What is the primary motive Smith has in looking for a cure? Is it to make the world safe for humans again or is it to rescue those who might still be capable of redemption?
~In what ways is Smith a Christ-figure in this movie? What comparisons could you draw between the vampire people and sinners? Discuss the scene where Smith is shouting, “I can save you,” in particular.
~All movies in this genre hold out the possibility that there is a secret enclave of other survivors somewhere. How might this view be compared to the expectation of heaven? What does it say about someone that he does or does not believe in such a place under these circumstances? If there is such an enclave, is it their obligation to try to rescue the infected if possible? How does this compare with Christianity?
~Who should be allowed to work on viruses and genetic manipulation? What sort of controls should exist on the information they discover so that other people who aren’t screened properly can’t work on it?
~What is the meaning of the final song?

Overall Grade: B
Very entertaining and even some interesting thoughts that come out of it. It stands in a long tradition of movies from Invasion of the Body Snatchers to Planet of the Apes to the Road Warrior to 28 Days Later. It does honor to that well-established genre.

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