“I Am Legend,” review by Susan Granger

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There are very few actors who can carry a picture alone. Tom Hanks did in “Cast Away” – with only a volleyball to talk to – and now Will Smith finds himself in post-apocalyptic Manhattan with only his German shepherd for company.

By 2012, a virus caused by a supposed ‘cure’ for cancer has killed most of humanity and turned those who have survived into vampire-like mutants. Lt. Col. Robert Neville (Will Smith) is a military scientist who is inexplicably immune to the plague. During the day, he attempts to hunt deer with a high-powered rifle and scavenges for supplies in the urban wasteland. But, at night, when rabid, howling predators roam the streets, he barricades himself in his Washington Square townhouse, where he conducts lab experiments in hopes of eradicating the outbreak with an antidote.

Eventually, lonely Neville finds two more uncontaminated humans, a Brazilian woman (Alice Braga) and a young boy (Charlie Tahan) who are heading for Vermont to join a ‘survivor’ colony.

Richard Matheson’s sci-fi 1954 novel, which spawned “The Last Man on Earth” (1964) with Vincent Price and “The Omega Man” (1971) with Charleton Heston, has been updated by Akiva Goldsman, who revised Mark Protsevich’s screenplay that was written for Arnold Schwarzenegger before he decided to run for California’s Governorship.

Director Francis Lawrence (“Constantine”) paints a haunting cinematic picture of grim isolation and stark desolation, while the repugnant CGI zombies seem to have crossed the pond from Danny Boyle’s “28 Days.”

Will Smith rises to the occasion superbly, working best with his canine companion, but the abrupt, unconvincing, religious-themed conclusion seems just too serendipitous. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “I Am Legend” is a solitary, suspenseful 7, the scary stuff of which nightmares are made.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.