I Am Legend
When my fiance (I love calling her that!) unveiled I Am Legend as her latest Netflix arrival I'll admit, I mocked her a little bit. It was something along the lines of: "If you wanted to see Will Smith with his shirt off, you could have just gone to YouTube- no need to spend a queue slot on it." What can I say, she likes the chocolate... Anyway- upon sitting down to watch it we were confronted with an interesting option. Watch the theatrical version, or the Alternate version? Seeing as we had both seen the theatrical cut already (and because I'm a sucker for exploring alternate anything) we went for option B- and I was pleasantly surprised.
First of all, it included a handful of incredibly short but rather worthwhile scenes- not the least of which being Nevel mistaking Anna and Ethan as his wife and daughter as he first wakes up to breakfast. Most of the others consist of small parts of Nevel's daily/weekly routine that were deleted from original, and then a return to those things as Nevel shows them all to Anna and Ethan after they save his life- glad to be able to share them with someone new.
Another interesting thing to me was the scene in which Nevel points out that the trap he was snared in was indeed set by the "Dark Seekers". Many of you would say: 'of course it was silly.
Why would we need to be told that?" And it would seem Director Francis Lawrence agrees with you, since he chose not to include this scene. But for me (and other viewers prone to over thinking I'm sure) I found myself wondering after my viewing in theaters, whether it was a trap set by them, or whether he had unknowingly wandered into on of his own traps. A little bit of a stretch? Maybe. But then, there are so many deliberate examples that show us that Nevel has been mentally frayed by his time alone ("Fred if your real you better tell me right now!"). Not the least of which being the fact that when Nevel first notices the mannequin out of place, it turns it's head ever so slightly.
By far the best alteration delivered by this... well... alternate, is the ending. I won't detail it here, but this ending meshes much better with the piece as a whole, even without the other additions I mentioned before. Not only does it tie the movie just an infinitesimal but closer to the original book, but it also draws together other themes touched on in the movie, but left hanging by the original ending, the most obvious being the lions from the opening sequence. This is something Lawrence obviously felt was true as well, as he brings the trio back for the end sequence. Though obviously not as polished as the theatrical cuts ending, this alternate ending is a far superior resolution- making for a better overall experience.
Walking away I was immediately reminded of movies like Aliens, Abyss, even Attack of the Clones just to name a few (two of which were James Cameron's now that I think about it) where the theatrical versions had scenes edited out of them that actually made them much better films- though in the case of Attack of the Clones I think we can agree it wouldn't have been enough to stop the runaway train. Either way, for me it was definitely enough to save I Am Legend. The additional scenes and alternate ending took a blah movie and kicked it up a notch (BAM!). Had this been what I'd seen in the theaters, I might not have felt like this movie was a complete loss.
Upon Further Review
Movie: I Am Legend
First Impressions: Technically this was my first viewing...
Current Status: Upgraded (as compared to the original)