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A view from the Blu (-ray) on DVDBeaver by Leonard Norwitz

I Am Legend - BRD

(Francis Lawrence, 2007)


Review by Leonard Norwitz



Theatrical: Warner Brothers Pictures

DVD: Warner Home Video


Review by Leonard Norwitz



Region: FREE (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:43:54.269 + 1:40:31.650 (alternate version)

Disc Size: 40,331,320,660 bytes

Feature Size: 17,440,892,928 bytes + 16,347,887,616 bytes (alternate version)

Video Bitrate: 16.14 Mbps

Chapters: 27 + 28 (alternate version)

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: March 11th, 2008



Aspect ratio: 2.40:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video






Dolby TrueHD Audio English 1428 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1428 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Embedded: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB)
Dolby Digital Audio English 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio French 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps / DN -4dB



English, Spanish, French, none



Creating I Am Legend Documentary

Cautionary Tale: The Science of I Am A Legend – Exploring the History of Viral Pandemic Infections and the Reality of Life-Threatening Microbes Lying In Wait for Humankind - in HD

• 4 Animated Comics - in HD


1 Disc in Standard Blu-ray case

Release Date: March 18, 2008



I Am Legend ~ The Score Card

The Movie : 6.5

The time is our near future. Dr. Alice Krippen has just announced a vaccine cure for cancer.  Three years later, the planet’s human population is either dead or running amuck in disorganized rapid packs, intolerant of light and hungry for whatever they might be able to feed on.  One man, Lt. Colonel Robert Neville, appears to be the only human immune to the virus.  Being both scientist and military, he rigorously and obsessively searches for a cure, gathering specimens of small animals and “darkseekers” by day; and holing up in his home at night – a fotress that he has carefully kept secret and well-defended from the infected. In what passes for one of its lighter moments, Neville frequents a video store to pick up a DVD to while away the time at home.  There he has arranged several manikins who stand in for his social contacts when his pet German Shepherd, Sam, is not enough.  It's quite touching, really.   One day, his dog runs carelessly into a building where Neville follows, fearing Sam will almost certainly become the victim of some rabid humanoid or canine animal. But little by little, the implications of his circumstances and his lack of progress toward a cure take their toll, until one day Neville finds Fred, one of his manikins, standing in the street where he oughtn't.



Image : 9 (8~9/9)


NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The score of 9 indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray DVDs on a 10-point scale.  The score in parentheses represents: first, a value for the image in absolute terms; and, second, how that image compares to what I believe is the current best we can expect in the theatre.




Compared to Gary’s impression of the SD, the picture quality of the Blu-ray exceeds expectations of what he thought a high definition rendering would offer.  Warner’s transfer to Blu-ray is better in all the ways we come to expect (resolution, color contrast, dimensionality), and it also displays none of dullness that Gary noted.  The average bit rate is lower than we generally find - the low 20s, mostly – but that didn’t keep me from giving it a fairly high score.  Tonal range is excellent, with appropriate information in the shadows.  Sharpness is variable, as the image on film would have dictated.














Audio & Music : 9/7

The main Dolby True HD audio mix is amazing, even if it only comes into dynamic play from time to time, as much of the film is spent on Smith thinking, worrying, muttering, testing, wandering about.  Atmospherics are nicely placed and subtly articulated. But when those moments of truth come, this is a dynamite audio track. There are optional subtitles and Gary's Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.




Operations : 8

Right off, Warner presents a screen permitting you to choose the version of the feature you want to watch.  If you think too long about it, the disc will automatically start with the original version.  Menu selections are made while the feature is in progress.  One word of caution: you had best be certain you want to watch the entire making-of documentary before you begin.  Good luck in trying to get back to the feature before it's over.





Extras : 7

This Blu-ray disc offers two versions of the movie, both in 1080p: the Original Theatrical Version and an Alternate Version that takes the finale to a different dramatic and emotional place.  While I object to the easy-solution epilogues in both versions, I find the alternate more satisfying on balance even though it addresses none of the logic problems noted above.  The four short thematically related animated comics, happen to look very good indeed in HD.  The SD documentary of just under an hour is informative, if not all that well put together.  Its fairly high quality image of behind-the-scenes footage is intercut with brief interviews of the principal players in  front and behind the camera.



Comment: Will Smith is certainly getting his retrospective due on high definition DVD of late.  On March 11 Fox released Independence Day (1996) and I, Robot (2004).  The following week, Warner releases his most recent and darkest film to date, I Am Legend.   Smith is nothing short of mesmerizing as a man straddling hope and despair.

To the extent that you buy into its last-man-standing story, I Am Legend - based on the 1954 novel of the same name by Richard Matheson - is one of the scarier horror films of recent years - not only because of its theme, but also the way it’s realized on film.  The effect on one’s psyche in its more compelling moments can be more like watching a film about the Holocaust than a straight-out horror/thriller film such as 28 Days Later The surviving infected humanoids are among the most frightening ever put to film: rabid as well as relentless; strong, quick, and stripped of most human attributes including color and articulate speech – all of which are a considerable improvement, aesthetically speaking, over the previous film adaptations: the 1964 film with Vincent Price, The Last Man on Earth, and the 1971 Charlton Heston vehicle, The Omega Man.  Director Lawrence (Constantine) certainly knows the genre: dripping water; shadowy interiors where the infected gather – for the most part, unseen; close-ups of the protagonist in various states of anguish and numbing fear.  Smith's pet dog hasn’t enough genetic history behind him to know just how threatened he ought to be, and thus places himself in harm’s way more than once – scenes which are scarier to Smith than attempts on his own life.  Scenes of Manhattan gone to seed, zoo animals racing though otherwise empty streets with Smith and his dog zipping along in one vehicle or other in hot pursuit look like something out of an apocalyptic nightmare.  Because of their verisimilitude to reality they come across as scarier than the CG effects in the film's climax.  [BTW: Lions in Manhattan?  I wonder how they got there?  I could be wrong, but I didn't know there were any in the Central Park Zoo; and the Bronx Zoo is across the river.]

Of course, I Am Legend has loftier goals than to merely scare you into never leaving your home or from taking another antibiotic.  The screenplay by Akiva Goldsman and Mark Protosevich is a study of loneliness and what it means to be human – at least in its first hour or so.  It also takes a moment, less successfully I thought, to consider God’s Plan.  Lofty or no, I Am Legend cannot escape the shortcomings of it own logic.  Taking some of the more obvious: Why is Neville so convinced that there are no other survivors, considering the evidence of his own eyes and his daily calls into the ionosphere for someone to find him?  How does he expect anyone to get to him with all the bridges into the city blown?  And why, with all Neville's electrical and radio devices still functioning, do none of the survivors over the years have a way to contact him?

Recommendation: 8

If you want a good fright and major special effects in high definition, you’ve come to the right place.  The movie may have its problems. But the art direction, Smith, and the dog make it all worthwhile.  I recommend the Alternate Version if you haven't seen it yet.

Leonard Norwitz
March 15th, 2008

September 2010

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About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.

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