Although many people were’nt huge fans of it, I really enjoyed Will Smiths I Am Legend when it was released two years ago. It was based on a book on the same name which was released in the 50s.
Like many book to film conversions, the screenplay differed from the book. In particular, the ending was changed for this version. If you have not seen the film and don’t want to have it ruined, please stop reading now 🙂
I am Legend
The film is set in the near future where most of the people of the world have died or contracted a disease which makes them like zombies. Will Smith is one of the last humans alive and wonders around New York city during the day time with his dog catching these zombies so that he can take them back to his house and do experiments on them in order to find a cure.
At night he padlocks all the doors in his house and waits until morning, as that is when the zombies come out. When is dog is caught by the zombies he goes out at night to find him and is saved by lady and her son. Unfortunately, she took him back to his home and the zombies find out where he lives. When nightfall arrives they arrive in their thousands and break into his home.
The end of the film sees him trapped in his basement behind a bullet proof type door. He sneaks the woman and child out through a secret door and when the zombies are ready to smash through he charges at them with a grenade and blows up dozens of them, simultaneously helping the woman and kid go free, who both end up finding unaffected humans up the coast of the US.
This film ending is not what actually happens in the book. In the book the main character Robert Neville realises that the zombies are not evil per say, they are simply part of the new race. Zombies are now at the top of the tree and he is the last human alive. He realises that he is their nightmare.
Basically, Robert thought that he was trying to save these ‘monsters’ but what he was actually doing was killing dozens of them every day and capturing others to use for testing. In the book, he befriends a zombie called Ruth who explains everything to him. He is imprisoned and sentenced to death but she takes pity on him and gives him a pill to make his death easier.
Before dying Robert realises that he is the last human alive and has a laugh to himself and says ‘A new superstition entering the unassailable fortress of forever. I am legend.’
They actually shot an ending similar to this for Will Smiths version but the HollyWood big wigs decided after a test screening that audiences wouldn’t like this. Thankfully, this ending was included in the I am Legend DVD. You can watch it below courtesy of FirstShowing.
I much preferred this alternate ending and I’m surprised that it wasn’t used. Over the years there have been many successful films which have added a twist at the end of the film (Usual Suspects, Sixth Sense, Unbreakable etc) so I don’t know what they didn’t take a chance with this one.
The ‘proper’ ending highlights that the zombies were just trying to get one of their own back and showed that Will Smith was actually the menace, which I think is a great twist and would make the film enjoyable with a 2nd or 3rd viewing. However, the ending they used means the film is a standard hack and slash zombie type film. I did still enjoy the film but think that they missed out on making this film a lot better.
Have a look at the alternate ending above and let me know what you think.