Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I Am Excited for I Am Legend.

I think most readers have a mental wish-list of novels that they'd like to see translated into film.

As it turns out, two books on my novel-to-movie wish list are hitting theaters before the end of this year.

The first one, I wrote about here.

And, here's the trailer for the second one...

Based on a novel by horror writer Richard Matheson, I Am Legend is a first-person account of the last human survivor on Earth after a genetic outbreak has virtually destroyed our civilization. As the story develops, we learn that some of the humans have taken on characteristics that are eerily similar to vampires.

I Am Legend ,the novel, also sways from the basic vampire genre. If you're looking for crosses, holy water and garlic, you've come to the wrong place. Plus, we - the reader - learn about the plague, and the infected 'vampires' in bits and pieces through Neville's biological experiments on the creatures. It's also a unique story in the sense that it delves into the main character's psychological and emotional psyche as he copes with being the last (hu)man on Earth.

It's a brilliant book. And I highly recommend that you check it out before you catch it in the theaters.

To be honest, I was a bit skeptical that a true version of the book would ever get made due to the fact that the story takes place from the perspective of one person with the supporting cast being the vampires themselves. Basically, the book follows a single character around as he talks to himself, drinks heavily and bitches to the creatures lurking outside his home.

I should note that there have a been a couple attempts to bring I Am Legend to the screen including The Last Man on Earth(1964) starring Vincent Price and the terrible, yet entertaining, Omega Man (1971) starring Charlton Heston. Both movies were good. Good. But, they failed to capture the true essence of Matheson's literary vision.

The closest the book has come to a faithful adaptation, prior to this film, was back in the early 90's, when Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Alien, Black Hawk Down) was in talks to direct with Arnold Schwarzenegger starring as Neville. I think the budget ballooned to over $100 million, the studios balked and it was never greenlit.

But after seeing Tom Hanks, along with supporting soccer ball Wilson, in Cast Away. I thought to myself, "You know what? With the right director and the right actor this could work."

That said, I think Will Smith is the perfect person to portray Neville. Like Hanks, the man can carry a movie as evidenced by last year's The Pursuit of Happyness and Michael Mann's Ali. I also think director Francis Lawrence was the perfect choice to bring Matheson's true cinematic vision to life. I mean, look what he did with Keanu Reeves in Constantine.

As far as the infected humans/vampires are concerned (you can catch a glimpse of them in the trailer above), I don't know about you but they remind me of the creepy cave creatures in last year's breakout horror movie The Descent.

The big question on my mind is the ending.

I'm curious if the adapted script by Mark Protosevich and Oscar-winner Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind) stays true to Matheson's very dark ending? Or will they shove it through the happy Hollywood-ending machine and set the whole thing up for a sequel?

Here's hoping Lawrence takes the same route as David Fincher did with SE7EN and brings out the bleak.

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