Thursday, December 20, 2007

[Internet Domain] The Last Man on Earth

Promo Poster

While the rest of the world get to watch Will Smith being the last man on Earth in his latest movie I Am Legend, for some strange reason we'll only have the picture premiere in Singapore on Christmas, when again the rest of the world will watch Aliens and Predators duking it out on 25th Dec. Talk about the incredible lag given this time and age of internet piracy.

Anyway to ease the artificial pain and longing to watch Smith do that talk with Wilson, I decided to go to the Internet Archive to watch it on public domain, although it turned out only to be a full frame version. But beggars can't be choosers now, can we? If you choose not to be spoiled with what's gonna happen to Will Smith, then please for heaven's sake skip my blog review for Last Man on Earth, since it's more or less the same stuff in the movie, especially so when Last Man shows almost all in the first 10 minutes.

Based on Richard Matheson's 1954 science fiction novel I Am Legend, The Last Man on Earth is the first movie to be based on the novel, followed by The Omega Man starring Charlston Heston, and then the recent Will Smith vehicle. The 1964 movie had set the movie in 1968, a few years after the discovery of a strange illness that originated from Europe, and since it's airborne, had spread throughout the rest of the world. Sounds like a possible scenario for the avian influenza pandemic if it does break out. However this one doesn't transmit the deadly flu, but infects humans with vampirism, needing to sleep in the day because of the UV sun rays, and can't stand their own sight in mirrors, nor bear with garlic stench.

In fact, it's not exactly like the vampires that we're familiar with, but had this Zombie like characteristics in being burly, slow, and not too intelligent. George A Romero's zombies definitely took a leaf here, and was extremely loosely adapted from. Given their behaviour, they are deemed low threat by Dr Robert Morgan (Vincent Price), who managed to hold them off in his fortified home, with the main door only secured by a wooden bolt going across it.

If I were the last man on earth, I'd probably die of boredom, or go incredibly insane over the routine that one has to go through, in this context and scenario. Here, we see Robert go through a cyclical routine of sending out transmissions on his radio to listen out for any fellow survivors, before going out for supplies, and fabricating stakes as weapons to fend off enemies. It's quite interesting here as he plays the role of both hunter and the hunted, depending on which part of the 12 hour cycle he's in, actively seeking out the vampires in their sleep, before holing himself in when they perform the same.

Given it's a relatively old movie, the narrative structure is a fairly simple flashback sequence midway in the film, where we learn of how he became stuck in his predicament. There's the problem, the routine, and then how it came to be, before settling on the resolution. Things start to get interesting only somewhere at the hour mark with the appearance of the dog, and a mysterious girl who may hold the catalyst to him seeking a potential cure for humankind.

One has got to take the technicalities into consideration, as the movie had been made more than 40 years ago. You don't expect very snazzy make up or special effects, but still the story managed to engage because it doesn't allow much time for wasteful dalliances and unnecessary subplots. It's as straightforward as it can get, and Price did an excellent job, essentially carrying the movie for the most parts, interacting with only himself.

Nonetheless, I would expect I Am Legend the Will Smith movie, going by the trailers, to be an update on the technical portion of it, but let's see if the storyline is similarly presented in as straightforward a fashion, or got to, and hopefully not, be too twisty and turning, biting off more than it can chew in its bid to go one up and impress. Crossing my fingers already.

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