First of all, I’ve never read the novel this movie is based on, so this review only refers to the movie. I might do a comparison when I read the book some time in the future. From what I’ve read, this version is just a reflection of what is in the book. With that said, I really did enjoy the movie.
Will Smith plays the quirky and somewhat paranoid Robert Neville, a scientist who appears to be the only survivor of a pandemic biological infection that crossed over from a botched attempt to find a cure for cancer. He is all alone in New York City with only his dog Sam as a companion. For some reason that he can’t explain, Neville is immune to the airborne and contact strains of the virus. Also, his dog Sam is immune only to the airborne strain.
The movie alternates between two parts of Neville’s life. The first part follows his day to day activities in the deserted and overgrown New York City covered in biohazard signs. The second part is a series of flashbacks taking place just as New York City is declared a quarantine zone. These memories come back to haunt Neville as he searches for a cure for this virus that has turned humans into zombies.
With all of the resources of New York City at his disposal, Neville strives to survive while he searches for a cure. He hunts for food and even traps zombies to test out his vaccines. He seems normal at first, but Neville isn’t exactly mentally stable. He arranges mannequins around the city and talks to them as if they are real. He checks out movies and returns them to the local video store. There is even a female mannequin that Neville doesn’t quite have the nerve to talk to just yet.
While certain points in the plot are very predictable (you’ll see what I’m talking about), others aren’t quite as cut and dry. This isn’t a typical zombie movie. There is a mix of drama, suspense, comedy, and action which I enjoyed. The audience at the theater I went to clearly didn’t appreciate the ending. I can sympathize with them to a point, but who wants a predictable ending all the time? While it wasn’t what I expected, I’m perfectly fine with the theatrical cut ending.
There is an alternate ending floating around on the internet which can be found via a simple Google search. It is even more unpredictable, and I have mixed feelings about which one I prefer. The quote, “What a hilarious misunderstanding,” courtesy of Flight of the Conchords comes to mind. According to some that have read the book, the alternate ending seems more true to the novel than the theatrical cut was.
In any case, I enjoyed the movie, and think many of you would too. Be sure to check out on DVD, which comes out March 18th.