I Am Legend, the apocalyptic plague film starring Will Smith, officially launches production for another installment in the world devastated by a monstrous and deadly virus outbreak.
Warner Bros. is allowing Overbook Entertainment, the production company established by Will Smith, to once again take the reigns on creating an enticing title about a terrible disease uprising.
Award-winning writer Akiva Goldsman, notorious for his work in the first I Am Legend movie as well as A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella. I, Robot, and the Da Vinci Code, will be one of the main assets on the team of producers. Arash Amel, the screenplay author of Grace of Monaco, will also be in charge of writing the script.
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The story angle is rather unclear, considering (*SPOILER ALERT*) the protagonist, Robert Neville dies at the end. That leaves two options open: either the plot will follow a new character or the writers will explore a deeper back story of the main character.
The first movie was of course based on the wonderful book by Richard Matheson. Naturally, some noticeable differences in the plot details were altered from the original text before hitting the big screen, but now with no foundation to base the story on, it'll be interesting to see where the writers decide to launch the story.
Usually, I'm hands down a supporter of the book over the movie, but this is one of those rare instances in which I'm actually torn between the two.
Right out of the frying pan, each version is cooking with a hot level of verisimilitude on how the pandemic spread: some hectic nuclear aftermath versus a cure for cancer gone haywire. Either way, believability strikes the fact that humans can make some sort of mistake that leads to an inevitable downfall.
Cancer is definitely a relevant fear and issue nowadays, but when the novel was first published back in the fifties, during the Cold War era, nuclear bombings were certainly more of an anxious threat. The book features virus strain that transforms hosts into undead vampires, while the movie enables complete body mutation , turning the infected into something monstrous of nature.
The written literature embraces a larger sense of the struggle for survival, desperation to overcome loneliness, and fear of a dark world; whereas the film adaptation focuses more on affectionate relationships and character feelings.
The dog, in the book, is not Dr. Neville's best friend; as a matter of fact, the canine companion is rather insignificant in Matheson's original work.
Neville experiences a painful amount of solitude and wants nothing more than to gain the attention of the dog; he spends his days trying to lure the animal to his house. Readers will get an immense sense of frustration and hopelessness when the poor survivalist finds his potential company in this lonely world to be overpowered by the pandemic.
Hollywood's interpretation sets the premise that the dog, given to him by his daughter as a puppy, is Neville's survival partner in this loathsome city. Here, viewers feel an agonizing loss as the scientist is left with no other choice than to sacrifice his one and only friend.
The woman, who not only undergoes a name change between the book and the movie, also curves on quite a personality and role bender.
Now one can only assume that the name change is a choice due to the lack of Ruths in the world. Not many people are named “Ruth” any more, but it's easy to walk down the street and find five different people named “Anna.”
Anyway, the female person in the paperback pages is actually an evolved vampire, capable of surviving in the sunlight. She is mysterious and forlorn and desires no association with Neville at all; the doctor actually captures her by force and brings her into his home under her protest. Needless to say, she tries to escape.
On screen, the woman is a normal human; heroic and caring. Instead of attempts to avoid the lone researcher, she actually seeks him out by following his radio broadcast. Anna manages to rescue Neville as he faces severe danger, then mends his fatal wounds, and cooks him a delicious egg and bacon breakfast. [insert women in the kitchen joke here]
The movie concludes with an upbeat note of Neville acting as a redemption for humanity by sacrificing his life in order to assure the safety of the cure – mankind is confident in their ability to overcome the mutated species. On the other hand, the book hits a depressive melody as the vampires put Neville to death as the last uninfected man on earth – hope for humanity is dwindled to nothing and a new race has conquered the earth.
Overall, the book is more horrific and brutal, while the movie is more emotional and relateable. Take your pick - I like both.
Matheson's genius creativity inspired not only the 2007 I Am Legend film, but also the Last Man on Earth in 1964, the Omega Man in 1971, and even the admirable George Romero's Night of the Living Dead in 1968.
The I Am Legend novel is the springboard that gave height to the leap of culture popularity in apocalyptic worlds caused by some sickness spreading. Matheson's idea of a "vampire germ" fueled many amazing works in film, literature, and video games.
Face it, without Matheson's work, Pure Conquest series like The Walking Dead, Dead Rising, and Resident Evil wouldn't even exist.
What do you hope to see in the next I Am Legend film? How awesome do you think Matheson is? Do you prefer the book or the movie of I Am Legend? Leave a comment below or send an e-mail response.
Sources:Hollywood Reporter, Deadline
Images: Luke Sutton's Blog, Serious Land, I Am Legend Archive, Bennadel, VJ Books