The title of my post serves no other purpose than to put the two film titles into one sentence. But did you also know that I find improper grammar annoying? Especially when it is featured proudly in the title of a blockbuster film. Man…first Timbaland’s song and now this. Are you a legend? Is your name actually Legend? (I’m aware that it is the title of the book that it’s based on. I’m just messing around. But can anyone tell me why the author chose to do this?)
I know these movies have been out for a while…I just felt like writing about them. Maybe for the people who haven’t seen them. Or the people who hated them and need to see them again. =)
I am far from being a regular moving-picture-flicker-show attendee, but I did see two films fairly recently that I really enjoyed. One was a highly-promoted box office juggernaut of apocalyptic proportions while the other was an innocent, happy, fuzzy and warm little love story. And both I Am Legend and Juno were worth the ticket price and the time.
I Am Legend
I heard that it departed a lot from the novel, but I haven’t read the book nor read any comparisons between it and the film so I can’t really comment on that. But I will say that the film was good enough to put the novel at the top of my “to-read” list.
First of all, Scientologist or not, I am a huge fan of Will Smith. (But is he, really?) His role in this film is similar to the one that Adrien Brody was given in The Pianist and, more commonly noted, Tom Hanks in Castaway. In other words, Smith single-handedly carries the film, and the success or failure of the work depends on how well he plays the part. Fortunately, like Brody and Hanks, Smith does an admirable, albeit not perfect, job. (He was the Fresh Prince…that’s always going to be in your mind.)
Around 2010(?)-ish, a miracle cure for cancer is discovered, administered, and goes wrong. Cancer adapts to the drug, creating a super-virus that infects everyone and kills most everyone on the planet. Those who survive are either turned into zombies with vampire-like qualities (e.g. disintegrate in sunlight), or, if you’re Dr. Robert Neville (Smith), or a dog, you’re luckily immune to the disease. So a handful of years after the super-virus hits, Neville is the only normal human in Manhattan, and he is still desperately looking for a cure in his basement lab, occasionally testing out his trial cures on the local vampire-zombie community.
Much of the film simply follows Neville on his daily routine with his dog: going into the city, finding food, “renting” dvd’s, talking to mannequins, finding a cure for cancer (except it is about 100 times harder than before). It seems rather boring on paper but what fascinated me (and I really was “fascinated.” I’m not just using the word) was how clearly the film attempts to capture what it would feel like to be the last man on Earth: the loneliness, the routine, the emptiness — humanity without the humans. There is absolutely no soundtrack used in the film, except for a few Bob Marley tunes that Neville plays on his own stereo. This lack of a soundtrack might not seem like a big deal because we take soundtracks for granted and we’re so used to them serving as guides for our emotions, but the lack of it really adds to the silent despair and vacuumed panic that engulfs you as you watch the film. Your attention is forced to focus directly on the situation in the film and the effect it has on the only character that is provided. And Smith does a fine job of conveying all of those multi-layered, claustrophobic, pent-up, isolated feelings of the tense calm of routine, the intense fear of the unknown, the joy of being alive, the wretched despair of being alone, and the small hope and resiliency that allow Neville (and his dog) to endure it all.
The opening scene is great too. It has Will Smith with a big gun and his dog, in a red Mustang (GM and Apple clearly sponsored the film), hunting a herd of antelope(?) through the streets of a very realistic, ruined NYC that is cracking and crumbling, and over-run with weeds, tall grassy patches, and a remarkably convincing half-city/half-prairie-hunting-grounds look.
Yeah, there are some possible plot holes and the ending feels a little rushed. But it’s those feelings and emotions…. and the fact that the film helps you actually experience just a small taste of the insanity of being the only one left. There are some really suspenseful and heart-racing parts too, magnified even more because they are set within the tension-filled, silent calm of the monotony and emptiness of Neville’s life. Maybe the screenplay isn’t quite Oscar-worthy. It’s still definitely worth watching though.
I remember seeing previews for this and immediately wanting to see it. Then I forgot about it until a few friends asked me if I wanted to go see it a couple of weeks ago. The basic premise of the story is so simple the fact that the film is fresh and original is a feat unto itself. It’s about a girl, Juno MacGuff, who gets pregnant by a guy she isn’t so sure about, decides to keep the baby, and goes through many struggles as she deals with the unexpected life changes and responsibilities that come with having a baby at a young age. Sounds like your everyday, typical Lifetime “Original” movie right? But no! It isn’t. And I know you have probably heard of all the praise this film is receiving from everyone and maybe it’s beyond over-hyped by now. The aspect that shines the brightest is without a doubt the off-beat, hilarious yet compelling screenplay.
The dialogue, and Juno MacGuff’s character, is what carries the film. Juno speaks in such outlandish, unorthodox, and totally hip jargon that you can’t help but laugh. She is one of the most lovable and relatable characters I’ve seen in a while and is played so brilliantly by Ellen Page that I assume Page is exactly like this unbelievably charming character from the film. If Juno were real, and I knew her in high school, I don’t think I’d want to date her (or impregnate her)…but I think I would’ve liked being one of her best friends for life. Yes, that sounds kind of girly. Just watch the movie.
The film tackles a variety of tough issues (abortion, sexuality, adoption, family, divorce, marriage, etc.) but does it in such a humorous way that you don’t even know how it got tackled but just that it did, and you liked the way it was taken down. The humor is so well-balanced with just the right amount of poignancy that it is able to paint those issues with enough delicacy to make it all work.
The supporting characters, like Juno’s supportive friend; the hilarious dad and step-mom (but mostly the dad); the adoptive parents, played by a perfectly understated Jennifer Garner and a funny, insecure Jason Bateman; and Michael Cera as the irresistibly nerdy and awkward friend/boyfriend/outcast/lover, Paulie Bleeker, all add wonderfully to the work. OH…and Su-Chin — she’s great.
Juno is like the quirky, hip, indie side of the story that Knocked Up told in mainstream, Hollywoodified, in-your-face fashion. (I loved Knocked Up too.) In fact, I think this would be the bastard love-child (yes! I managed to use that phrase in the post) of Knocked Up and Napoleon Dynamite. Who wouldn’t want that bastard?
Songs of the Day:
For today’s songs, I am putting up music that is featured in both films. Here are a couple Bob Marley tunes taken from his really excellent, should-be-owned-by-everyone Legend compilation album. Oh…Legend. Bob Marley. Music used in “I Am Legend“….ahh…those clever screenwriters. But it’s kind of retarded if you think about it. I mean, could that really be the only reason why they chose to use Marley’s music? Well…I did like the effect that the music had in the film at times, especially the use of “Three Little Birds.” All right. I probably would’ve done the same thing.
These two tracks along with one more Marley song (“Stir It Up”) are the only “soundtrack” used for the film and end credits.
The next song is quite possibly the most fluffily lovey-dovey, sweetest song out right now, taken from the Juno soundtrack (I probably think this because I’ve seen the movie). The original version is done by The Moldy Peaches and the other version is actually sung by the two main characters from Juno, performed by the actors themselves in the film.