Trip Down Memory Lane | The Hollywood Redux Podcast | Episode 107
Join The Hollywood Redux Podcast as they get on the Magic School Bus and take a trip down memory lane and sing Gay Fish with Kanye, and fight over the name of the mannequin in I Am Legend.
About I Am Legend
I Am Legend is a 2007 American post-apocalyptic medical-disaster vampire horror film based on the novel of the same name, directed by Francis Lawrence and starring Will Smith, who plays US Army virologist Robert Neville. The story is set in New York City after a virus, which was originally created to cure cancer, has wiped out most of mankind, leaving Neville as the last human in New York, other than nocturnal mutants. Neville is immune to the virus and he works to develop a cure while defending himself against the hostile mutants.
Warner Bros. began developing I Am Legend in 1994, and various actors and directors were attached to the project, though production was delayed due to budgetary concerns related to the script. Production began in 2006 in New York City, filming mainly on location in the city, including a $5 million scene at the Brooklyn Bridge. It is the third feature-film adaptation of Richard Matheson’s 1954 I Am Legend novel, following 1964’s The Last Man on Earth and 1971’s The Omega Man.
I Am Legend was released on December 14, 2007, in the United States and Canada, and opened to the largest ever box office (not adjusted for inflation) for a non-Christmas film released in the U.S. in December. The film was the seventh-highest grossing film of 2007, earning $256 million domestically and $329 million internationally, for a total of $585 million.
In 2009, a genetically re-engineered measles virus, originally created as a cure for cancer, turns into a lethal strain which kills 94% of those it infects, mutates 5% into predatory, nocturnal mutants called “Darkseekers” who are extremely vulnerable to sunlight and other sources of UV, with only the remaining 1% immune. Three years after the outbreak, US Army virologist Lieutenant Colonel Robert Neville (Will Smith) lives an isolated life in the ruins of New York City, which is now deserted, unsure if any other uninfected humans are left in the world.
The effects of the virus vary in other species; animals that coexist with humans, like rats and domestic dogs, are infected, but wild animals, like deer and lions, remain unaffected. The city has fallen into ruins and overgrown vegetation covers crumbling buildings and wild deer roam the streets while being preyed upon by lions that have escaped Central Park Zoo. Neville’s daily routine includes experimentation on infected rats to find a cure for the virus and trips through Manhattan to hunt for food and supplies. He also waits each day for a response to his continuous recorded radio broadcasts, which instruct any uninfected survivors to meet him at midday at the South Street Seaport. Flashbacks reveal that his wife (Salli Richardson) and daughter (Willow Smith) died in a helicopter accident during the chaotic evacuation of Manhattan, prior to the military-enforced quarantine of the island in 2009, in which Neville stays behind on the island as military personnel. Neville’s loneliness is mitigated by the companionship of his German Shepherd Samantha aka Sam (given to him by his daughter Marley as a puppy to protect him before she died in the helicopter crash), interaction with mannequins he has set up as patrons at a video store, and recordings of old television broadcasts. At night, he barricades himself and Sam inside his heavily fortified Washington Square Park home to hide from the Darkseekers. One day while waiting for survivors, Sam follows a deer into a dark building. Neville cautiously goes in after her and finds the deer’s corpse along with Sam, but the building is infested by a colony of Darkseekers. Both manage to escape unharmed and the attacking Darkseekers are killed by the sunlight.
Neville finds a promising treatment derived from his own blood, so he sets a snare trap and captures a female Darkseeker from a rundown building being used as a hive for the Darkseekers, while a male Darkseeker (termed “Alpha Male” in the script, and played by Dash Mihok) tries to go after them, but is blocked by the sunlight and returns to the shadows. Back in his laboratory in the basement of his house, Neville treats the female without success. The next day, he is ensnared in a trap similar to the one he used to capture the female, and by the time he manages to escape, the sun is setting and he is attacked by infected dogs. Neville and Sam manage to kill them, but Sam is bitten in the fight. Neville brings Sam home and injects her with a strand of his serum, but when she shows signs of infection and tries to attack him, Neville is forced to strangle her to death. Heartbroken and driven over the edge by loneliness by his dog’s death, he ventures out and suicidally attacks a group of Darkseekers the next night. He kills a large number of Darkseekers but the rest overwhelm him and he is nearly killed, but is rescued by a pair of immune survivors, Anna (Alice Braga) and a young boy named Ethan (Charlie Tahan), who have traveled from Maryland after hearing one of his broadcasts. They take the injured Neville back to his home, where Anna explains that they survived the outbreak aboard a Red Cross evacuation ship from São Paulo and are making their way to a survivors’ camp in Bethel, Vermont. Neville angrily argues that no such survivors’ camp exists.
Neville once again attempts to administer a potential cure to the infected woman in his laboratory, but the next night, a group of Darkseekers, who had followed Anna and Neville back the night before, attacks the house. Neville, Anna, and Ethan retreat into the basement laboratory, sealing themselves in with the female Darkseeker on which Neville has been experimenting. Discovering that the last treatment was successful, Neville tries to assess the situation as the alpha male deliberately rams himself against a glass door to break in.