I Am Legend

Richard Matheson's classic horror novel, about a solitary man struggling to survive in a world overrun by vampires, has been filmed already as The Last Man on Earth (1964), with Vincent Price, and The Omega Man (1971), with Charlton Heston. But it's never gotten the blockbuster treatment before, and a lot of the cash here goes toward realizing a desolate Manhattan that could chill the most hardened city dweller. Will Smith is a scientist trying to eradicate the biotech virus that was supposed to cure cancer but instead has turned the world's population into raging blood drinkers. The popcorn elements are well handled, but what lingers is the sense of urban despair: watching old videotapes of the Today show, carrying on friendships with mannequins, Smith turns out to be no legend at all, just another New Yorker slowly dying of loneliness. Francis Lawrence directed. PG-13, 100 min.

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