I can honestly say that this is one of the best roles Will Smith had ever undertook. I was doubting this film from the beginning of its announcement that it was being conceived. From the graphic novel which tells of a world overrun by vampires, to a film about humans that seem to be a mixture of both vampire and zombie.
Dr. Robert Neville is struggling to survive everyday with his dog as his only companion in a world taken over by a virus that turns people into (as it is called in the film) Hemocytes. He struggles to survive in New York City as these beings thrive along the streets, buildings. Their advantage point, the darkness. Their disadvantage, the sunlight. He also tries to create a antidote which can turn hemocytes back into human beings. Being alone takes its toll on Neville especially after his dog, Sam, dies. Then again, he is not the last person on Earth after all. A intriguing story though I have seen many apocalyptic films already. This story however focuses more on the structural concept of the character, which I love. Screenwriters Mark Protosevich and Akiva Goldsman create a screenplay full of humor, suspense, action, drama, everything a film could ask for. They bond the reality of how a character can interact with the environment. In this case, a lone man who thinks that he is the last person in the world.
As Robert Neville, Will Smith is simply astounding as a doctor who struggles with not only the search for an antidote for this virus, but also struggles emotionally, unable to really grasp the fact that the world in which he lived in is now gone, his family, gone. Alice Braga plays Anna and she is good, not great, but good enough as a soothing figure for Neville as he comes to understand that he is not the only one in this world. Salli Richardson-Whitfield plays Neville's wife Zoe, and she resides in the film through flashback sequences. I must admit however, she does well enough in her performance to make it not bad. She does not convey much in her lines, and these lines are important for the film and the buildup of each character. Willow Smith, who plays Neville's daughter Marley does a way better job then her and yet she was only about 6 or 7 years of age when she acted on screen. She does a marvelous job as Neville's loving daughter and each line she does well in conveying a typical growing girl. In this film, a girl not able to understand and grasp the situation around her. Her character left an impact throughout the entirety of the film. Overall, the cast is good, especially the extras (the thousands of them) and they understand the concept of this film and portray it very well to the audience.
Director Francis Lawrence does a surprisingly astounding job here, though I have never heard of him before, nor of his credentials, but he pulls off an apocalyptic film and succeeds. Not many directors can do this. Cough. Paul W. S. Anderson, Resident evil. Cough. He does a great job in controlling his cast and directing an enormous cast filled with extras in New York City, now that is amazing. He directs them so well that you actually feel the gravity of this situation as if it were actually occurring.
The FX work here is good, not great, I loved how the special effects teams created a weathered out New York City, placing elements of aging here and there throughout the buildings and the rest of the environment. What I did not really like were the cgi characters. The hemocytes looked obviously fake, the mutant dogs, the herds of deer. I did appreciate how the lions looked in the film in which they are in for a few minutes. I did also appreciate how the hemocytes moved about. They moved around with humanistic physicality, keeping it in the realms of realism, despite being a mainly scifi film. The cinematography, I liked the wide shots of the city and the lighting used upon it, keeping the coloring orange and a dull yellow to emphasis despair and gloom for the main character. I disliked the shaky camera movement at times and though it was necessary to build up the action, capturing that action was not that good. The scene in which Neville finds a nest of hemocytes and starts running in darkness, with only his flashlight moving randomly everywhere. I understand the darkness is also a reason why we cannot see what is happening, but then again what is the point of that shot? Only Smith's portrayal of being frightened and his heavy breathing make that shot count.
Composer James Newton Howard's score here is good, keeping the film's suspenseful moments and keeping the dramatic moments intact. I loved the piece when Neville is about to sacrifice himself to protect Alice and then we see the image, of what the audience can make out, a cracked butterfly on the glass door, blocking the hemocytes from getting to Neville. Neville is reminded of his daughter's words "Daddy look, a butterfly" and the piece just emphasizes her words so well with what is happening.
Editor Wayne Wahrman does a good job here in keeping the mood of the film within each cut. He makes sure to keep the audience engaged with the film and never let boredom get in the way especially in the scenes in which Neville is alone. He makes sure to cut to different shots and angles in those sequences to keep them awake and actually focus on what Neville is doing. It also helps to build up what Neville would do next.
Overall, a great popcorn flick that somewhat succeeds in film aspects as well.
This has been another review by daveactor7 :)