Saturday, January 26, 2008


Yep, that’s how I ended up after watching the latest adaptation of The Omega Man, dubbed I Am Legend featuring Will Smith. During lulls at the movie house, kept looking at the empty seats near me to see if there were any of those rabid people lurking in the dark (as if the virus that wreaked havoc to New York in the movie had suddenly jumped out of the screen and infected the unsuspecting audience). In the jeepney, kept staring at the other passengers to check for any signs of them turning into those hairless corpse-like monsters in the movie. Don’t know why these post-apocalyptic plots – of being stuck in a world full of brain-sucking zombies, mutated homo sapiens, or virus-deformed people – strikes a chord. Something close to primal fear: turns the guts inside out, softens both knees into a gooey state, but brings a certain excitement that makes you wish to stay in that world, with that experience.

The Charlton Heston flick gave me those adventure-filled nightmares where I live in a high-tech subterranean fortress and conduct all these raids on zombie hangouts with my ubercool armored van (see my earlier post on this). Just found out from Wikipedia today that this screen-adaptation of the classic 1959 Richard Matheson novel was actually the second one. The first was filmed in 1964 with the title The Last Man on Earth and with Vincent Price in the lead role. That makes the current Will Smith version the third one. Director Francis Lawrence decided to use Matheson’s original title for the novel, but changed some details. Instead of a biological war between China and the Soviet Union causing the spread of the deadly virus, Lawrence had this story about a viral cure for cancer gone awry. And the menace to army doctor Robert Neville and other survivors have been “upgraded” with all these blood- and flesh-craving nocturnal humans holed up in the dark nooks of the city. Heston’s albino adversaries in the earlier version at least have some human intelligence left to conduct a trial and sentence him to death.

Which makes the latest movie scarier and more paranoid-inducing. Thought Will Smith did a great job here portraying one of the last persons on the planet employing his physical, psychic and emotional arsenal to stay alive and sane in a ravaged world. And considering that it was quite challenging to maintain interest for most of the movie’s opening sequences with only him and the German Shepherd on the big screen (although Lawrence and the material itself should also get some credits for this). That scene where he was forced to strangle his infected and slowly mutating dog was perhaps one of the film’s most powerful. Another was the one at the video store where, bereft of a living companion, he said his teary hellos to a mannequin.

What’s that noise? Have to go. Not a soul with me here at the office.

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