I’ve loved the charming big-boy Will Smith since Men In Black. His newest hit, I Am Legend is another big thumb up. His acting is unquestionably convincing, the plot line is concise and gripping, and the set is a wonderful visual feast.
But I’m here to talk about a few things that may prevent this film from becoming the classic of the sci-fi mutant-zombie genre. If you haven’t seen the movie, I strongly suggest that you stop reading and come back after you have.
- The food supply of those mutants. The mutants in the movie are wall-climbing, car-chasing, pole-jumping monsters whose resting heart rate is 200bpm. They would require an enormous amount of food supply to sustain that level of activity, even if they hibernate during the day. With the super-human strength and speed of the mutants, the deers and lions and any living creature which do not have a fortress for night shelter would have been eaten; there wouldn’t be anything left for Will Smith to go city-hunting. Even then, the mutant wouldn’t survive three years without eating each other to the last one.
- The radio. I’m not sure if I got this right, but seems like a mother and son heard Will Smith’s radio broadcasting from Ireland and found him in New York, while an entire colony of survivors within a day’s driving range from New York missed these radio broadcast for 3 years? It’s been pointed out that the mother and son came from Maryland (south of New York) heading towards Vermont, and they happened to hear the radio when they passed New York. I’d buy that.
- Smith killed Sam! Oh man, my favorite character in the movie – the family dog – had to be killed by Will Smith himself because she was infected with the virus. Er… didn’t Will Smith find a cure for the virus on a rat a few days before? Why not detain the dog and try to find a cure for her? Perhaps seeing his best friend suffer from the mutation is too much for Smith that he had to choke her to death.
- The Fred trap. There are theories that suggest Will Smith set up that trap himself and forgot about it when he thought he saw Fred, one of the dummies that Will Smith talk to to keep himself sane, moved. That theory is garbage. Will Smith freaked out and he shouted: “What are you doing out here, Fred?” If he set the trap himself, he would have known why Fred was out here. Besides, why would he set a dummy as a trap for mutants?
Equally unlikely is the first thing that comes to mind: the Alpha Male mutant saw Will Smith using the trap to capture his Alpha Female girlfriend, and copied the trap. I think this is what the movie makers had in mind. But how can the mutants set up such a complicated trap in rage, when the virus has eaten away their brains in such a way that even language was diminished?
A more plausible theory suggested that Will Smith set up the trap, and the Alpha Male mutant brought Fred onto the trap. But that requires the mutants to observe Will Smith’s actions during the day, and to understand complex human psychology so to foresee Will Smith’s reaction when he sees Fred by the road.
- The cure. Here’s the largest, irreparable hole. Will Smith spent 3 years trying to find the compound in his blood that makes him immune to the virus, and why? Because he believes this can reverse the effect of the virus. So he is not finding a vaccine; he is finding the cure. A vaccine works by stimulating the immune system and tuning it ready to fight an infection. If the infection occurred already, then a vaccine would not work; the immune system has already fought the infection and lost.
So that something Will Smith is finding may be the antibodies that would inactivate the virus directly, instead of activating the immune system. This is how blood serum works against snake poison. But the virus is not a snake poison; they somehow take control of the body, enhance its physical ability, and overwrite anything in the brain with pure aggression. This level of modification cannot be reversed simply by antibodies. The best Will Smith could hope for is to kill or inoculate the virus with his antibodies. Then what? Hope that the severe brain damage would repair itself?
Even if we skip that medical detail, just think about the last 10 minutes of the film. Will Smith, the Time-magazine cover-worthy M.D., with a well-equipped research lab and an unlimited blood supply (himself), took 3 years to locate the human-saving compound. He drew about 20mL of the mutant’s blood, which contains the precious, mysterious compound along with a load of who-knows-what’s-in-mutant-blood, and hope that some random survivor in the survivor colony can isolate that compound in the 20mL tube, and launch a massive injection campaign? Without the physical ability, anyone who receives the cure would be killed by mutants who have not received the cure.
Anna is better off to just throw that blood out the window.
Of course, of course. This film is about entertainment and the let’s-not-play-God doctrine. But if somehow these loopholes can be addressed, this movie would have a much better science to go with the great fiction.