Director Francis Lawrence's previous film, "CONSTANTINE" was pure crap, however, he convinced WB that he at least had more style than many, and his latest film, "I AM LEGEND," does have a great style to it, at least, that is, for the first 2/3rds of the film. WILL SMITH stars in this apocalyptic thriller, based on a novel by Richard Matheson, and previously adapted to film on two occasions, "OMEGA MAN," and "THE LAST MAN ON EARTH." The Vincent Price black&white film actually stayed more faithful to the story than did the Charlton Heston version, and many fans were hopeful that this newest, long delayed version would be the most literal adaptation. Long delayed, allegedly over budgeting, and originally set for Schwarzeneggar, "I AM LEGEND" features a great performance by Smith, whom has to carry the picture pretty much by himself for most of the film. (Can't say more or would ruin any surprises.)
One can tell that Lawrence is trying to transcend the sci-fi genre, creating a really intelligent drama, underneath the action/spectacle look of the film any studio seeks for a wider audience. The weakest parts of the film, aside from the last 15 minutes, which is crap, are flashback sequences, meant to build a deeper understanding of why the population has been decimated and explaining Smith's loneliness, feels completely unrealistic and contrived. Still, Smith makes one want to overlook many flaws, and he also makes it easy. The film's final 15 minutes, however, are hard to swallow, and completely predictable and annoying.
WARNER BROS is releasing the film on hd-dvd, blu-ray, and dvd as both a 2 disc edition and single disc edition. The dvd offers the correct 2.40:1 aspect ratio with 16:9 enhancement. Colors are solid, and appear to be completely faithful to the original theatrical presentation. Everything about the image appears natural, without over-saturation or artifacts. It's a clean looking transfer.
WARNER BROS. has provided a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. It's aggressive at times, but intentionally subdued for long parts. Even with subdued sequences, ambient effects are well chosen. Bass effects kick in with impact to heighten the tension to action scenes, and the overall fidelity is excellent.
The two disc edition offers the theatrical version on disc one with four animated comic books as extras. The 2nd disc offers an "alternative" version, with a different ending. Without giving away too much, the ending is vastly different, and certain to be liked more by many than the theatrical version. However, the overall film is only four minutes longer.