After an attempt to wipe out cancer turned all wrong, the world has been affected by a catastrophic viral decimation. The lone survivor is Dr. Robert Neville. Accompanied by his dog, Robert remains in New York to continue his research because it is Ground Zero for the outbreak. Only able to be on the streets during the day, he hunts, researches and passes the time in between attempts to study possible cures. Avoiding the dark and the nights because of the virus’s mutation of humanity, he continues to struggle with his loneliness and limited routine for survival. The routine would not be able to survive forever and a series of events with his dog lead him to question his efforts and face the possibility of accepting his failures.
Starring: Will Smith (Robert Neville), Alice Berga (Anna), Charlie Tahan (Ethan), Salli Richardson-Whitfield (Zoe Neville), Willow Smith (Marley Neville), Darrell Foster (Mike, the Military Escort), April Grace (TV Personality), Dash Mihok (Alpha Male Infected), Joanna Numata (Alpha Female Infected), Abbey/Kona (Sam the Dog)
With the film being one that includes a lot of solo scenes with Will Smith, he needed to get his character just right. The combination of the loneliness, survival instincts and slight bit of mental instability is performed well and is much stronger than the presentation of the CGI’ed infected humans. The scenes with the rest of the cast are limited, but the performance by Mihok in his representation of the Alpha Male is rather terrifying. Will was even able to bring his daughter into the film.
Adapting the story of Omega Man in a new format, Francis Lawrence turned the city of New York into a barren land and portrayed the isolation of being the only human left. Robert was originally part of the attempt to reverse the effects of the virus used to try to eliminate cancer, but found himself stuck with the memory of watching his wife and daughter dying in a helicopter crash and watching the world around him wither away. Left with his trusty dog, Sam, he searched for signs of life and hopes for a cure to the outbreak. When he found himself finally getting closer to the cure, a setback popped up with the chosen test subject. The high aggression only intensified his reaction to his personal loss.
The film’s adaptation of the end of the story took a more heroic and sacrificial tone with Robert’s sacrifice, but an alternate version actually returned to the theme highlighted in the middle of the story of the infected human’s retained sense of connectedness. With some continued discussion with attempting to make a sequel that would involve Will Smith (even with the way the theatrical release ended), some theories initiated in the original release actually set up a possible story of interest if the producers would be willing to pursue it.
Whether you connect with the dog or enjoy Will Smith as an actor, there is something in this film for virtually everyone. The loneliness is similar to the feel of Cast Away while establishing itself as a far different harsh environment. The animation is not very impressive and the physical abuse that Robert takes is a little unbelievable, but the story truly is enjoyable.
Dan’s Rating: 3.5/5