Tonight I attended the Premiere of Will Smith’s new movie, “I Am Legend” in NYC’s Madison Square Garden. I had the good fortune of acquiring these tickets through someone else’s kindness.
Carlos & I arrived early and I am so glad that we did. The theatre seats were limited and filling thisfast. We ended up seated next to a rather chatty gentleman from Baltimore who kept on saying over and over, “Those people are so jealous of us!”, referring to our angular view of the right-hand side of the movie screen. It was funny only the first four-hundred times he’d said it; then it got a bit annoying. He had left an empty seat between us and him, using a complimentary popcorn box as a placeholder. When he was asked if the empty seat was occupied, he kept saying it was for his wife (which we had just been informed wasn’t coming). My neighbor also found this amusing–and I did too–only the first four-hundred times he’d said that. We were just behind an equally friendly young couple who seemed to be awed at the prospect of seeing someone famous. Ahead of them were a mis-matched Asian woman with a bearded white-haired man who wore a pair of glasses all while balancing another pair on his forehead (because he was that cool)…and yes, he did have a ponytail. I know, I know: he was the epitome of mid-life crisis. Anyhow, we all waited while people shuffled past, some modestly dressed and some decked out in their red-carpet finest. I almost split my side over a bejeweled woman who complained to someone on the other end of a cell phone saying, “I’m in ‘General Admission’! I can’t believe how far I am from the screen…” After Carlos went back for complimentary seconds and thirds in free soda and popcorn, the house lights blinked on and off a few times and soon there were gasps and screams and flashbulbs going off. I craned my neck to see if I could see anything (which of course I couldn’t). Suddenly, someone yelled out, “Look! It’s Tom Cruise!” and again I stood up like a retard to catch only a whisper of Tom shaking hands, signing autographs, waving and smiling like it was his birthday. People reported Katie Holmes somewhere around, but I couldn’t verify that at all. The house lights turned off and on again once or twice and soon everyone–within eyeshot–yelled out, “Will! Will!” Sure enough, Will Smith stood a few feet away waving with a mike in his hand apologizing for being late to his own premiere. It was entertaining to say the least. The odd part about NYC is that people are so non-chalant about their celebrities. They cheered but, in the same breath, complained about the movie not starting yet. Mr. Smith recognized people’s impatience and quickly got to it but not before thanking the movie’s staff like he’d won an Academy Award or something. He also threw a shot out to his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, who I never saw at all. It was cool, but it really was time to watch the film.
Without issuing any spoilers, let me just say that the opening sequences and basic concept is great. The graphics are realistic and frightening. Unfortunately, the film misses the main theme and veers off so far from making a point that it almost seemed like the movie was just a giant commercial. For some reason, the running time of the film seems short and just makes you feel like it’s unfinished altogether. The ending is too simple and anticlimatic. All of the nuances and subtleties behind in-depth arguments such as: modern epidemics, vampiric elements, learned behaviors, human adaptation, the End-of-Days scenario are completely lost behind the sci-fi blue-screen. The editors paid so much attention to the monsters in the movie that they forgot all about the storyline.
Don’t Believe The Hype
Another major distraction in the movie is the product placement. The daughter’s name matches the musical CD that Will’s character is listening to in the beginning: Bob Marley. A segment in the film has Will’s character introduces another character to Bob Marley by playing a song off the CD as he adds some line about this being “the best CD ever made” or something to that effect. They further the product by including Bob Marley’s principles and a brief quotable quote. Some scene stealers are also the vehicles Will is driving (and crashing): from all-terrain to a sportscar that turns on a dime. Theres a verbatim recitation of a scene from the movie, Shrek and Will’s character even adds, “I love Shrek.” Gee, you didn’t have to be so damn obvious about that, did ya?!
Either way, the film just falls short of what the ultimate goal is in the movies. It’s not just to be entertaining. It’s to be insightful, creative and have a basic commentary on a particular subject matter. After having seen it, the movie-maker sacrificed a lot of that to accomodate a movie that perhaps was over-budget already, thanks to those lovely special effects. But for the price of an admission ticket these days, there’s more that could’ve been done to avoid the trappings of Hollywood formulas and packaging. The science fiction and horror genres can be viewed from so many fresh new angles. Why cheapen it with flimsy scripts that are so trite? It might as well be a video game then!
Will: will you make another movie like “The Pursuit of Happiness”? Now, that movie had something to say.