I Am Legend 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
After years of association I AM LEGEND with Will Smith, it’s funny to think that this was once a vehicle for Arnold Schwarzenegger. But the Govnuh’s political aspirations meant good news for Will Smith and movie fans as the film turned into one of Big Willie’s best roles and a surprisingly tense and exciting sci-fi film.
A terrible plague has wiped out all of New York City, turning the once proud city into a deserted wasteland, except for the demented zombies that come out at night and lone survivor Dr. Robert Neville (Will Smith). Robert spends his days roaming the streets with his trusty companion, a beautiful German Shepherd that guards Robert as he searches for zombies, food and cars. Robert is obsessed with trying to find a cure for the disease, but after being alone for so long, he spends more time fighting his own mind than the zombies.
When I AM LEGEND came out, everyone seemed blown away by Will Smith’s performance, and rightfully so. If possible, I would even go as far as saying they didn’t give him enough credit because I don’t think there’s anything harder than acting with only yourself. We haven’t seen that many movies that have featured a lone actor playing off of their environment, but Tom Hanks did it very well 7 years earlier in CAST AWAY and then Matt Damon did it eight years later in THE MARTIAN. Of course, Will Smith wasn’t entirely alone, he did have a German Shepherd to play off of, just as Hanks had a volley ball and Damon had a camera. But I put Will Smith’s performance up there with Hanks and Damon because it takes a very likeable, charming actor to carry a movie completely by himself.
As much as this truly is the Will Smith show, he is helped by a very good story. Since I AM LEGEND, we’ve seen dozens upon dozens of post-apocalyptic movies and TV shows, many of which feature some variation of the zombie apocalypse. I AM LEGEND sheds the wide scoped storylines in order to focus on the internal anguish of Robert. That works very well for the film and allows the audience to connect to Robert faster than if the scope had been larger.
As much as I like I AM LEGEND, I also blame it for being the end of the fun Will Smith that we knew and loved during the 90’s and early 2000’s. The movie made bank and critics and fans heaped massive amounts of praise on Will Smith for his reserved performance and for shedding the goofy Fresh Prince of Bel-Air persona for an entire film. And while all of that was warranted, I think Will Smith misinterpreted the praise because no one meant that Will Smith should never be charming, funny or likeable. It worked very well in I AM LEGEND, but after 7 years of seeing the cold, mopey, serious Will Smith, I want the fun Big Willie back.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: The most important question with any 4K upgrade of a catalog title is; is this better than the original Blu-ray release? And the answer in this case is an overwhelming yes. I AM LEGEND hit theaters in 2007 and then was released on Blu-ray in 2008 and after seven years, even a remastered Blu-ray would look significantly better. But going all the way to 4K makes the difference night and day. I AM LEGEND is a very dark movie and I’ve found that movies heavy with blacks and grays have the most noticeable upgrades on 4K, thanks in large part to the added color ranges from the HDR. Virtually any city scene is a good example of this, but I noticed it very clearly while Robert was hanging in the trap. The backgrounds in that scene looked wonderful and I can honestly say I’ve never seen I AM LEGEND look this good. The only negative is that I am disappointed we didn’t get the alternative ending included because that’s my preferred way to watch the film. I understand why they didn’t include it, but I’m still disappointed.
Audio: We get another DTS audio track and I’m a little disappointed we didn’t get a Dolby Atmos upgrade.
This title was reviewed using a Samsung UBD-K8500 with a Sony XBR75X850C TV.
There are no 4K exclusive features included on the 4K disc, but it does include a copy of the Blu-ray. The commentary from the Ultimate Collector’s edition is included on the 4K UHD disc, but the Blu-ray disc is the same from the original single disc edition.