I went to watch the new Will Smith film I am legend on friday night at our local Odean cinema. I’m a big fan of all things post-apocalyptic, the most likely origin of my fascination being Day of theTriffids which I found resident in my parents bookshelf when i was about 11/12, this was up followed not long after with Stephen Kings the Stand and the original (?) post-apocalyptic adventure Mary Shelleys The Last Man.
After reading those titles I’ve since soaked up all manner of ‘end of the world as we know it’ books and films, most of which are very formulaic; i.e. mankind gets nasty disease and either dies out (almost entirely) or becomes a slavering zombie beast overnight. I’m not sure exactly what my attraction is to such bleak future visions, although the idea of having free reign over vast empty playground cities and countryside has something to do with it. The lack of people would get pretty sucky after a while and I can imagine the sound of moaning zombies might distract whilst im trying to tee off down the Champs-Élysées. But I think it’s OK for me to just to mull over the entertainment possibilities available granted that level of freedom, without thinking too much about the actual state of mind I would be in given that situation.
I am Legend was good, but then I have a bias opinion for the reasons listed above. Will Smith did a good job of portraying a man suffering the effects of isolation; and yet ignoring them as much as possible as he single mindedly pursues his goal of saving humanity from the plague. The Special effects were nicely done, with the city aged by a few years (although im not sure enough time had realistically passed for that much grass to start growing in time square) it certainly didn’t look the same as when i visited the city and stumbled across the film set at 5 o’clock on a Sunday morning.
The only real dissapointment I had with watching I am Legend was not the fault of the film production but the fault of the venue I chose to watch at. The main cinema near us is the Odean in Southampton, which for some reason i keep going back to, but no longer. Odean cinema seems incapable of maintaining its surround sound speaker systems, in this case the front left and right speakers were not working at all so we didnt hear any of the awesome soundtrack by James Netwon Howard. It was also a strain to catch some of the dialogue going on when the characters weren’t centre screen.
I’ve sat through at least 6 films now in Odean main screens which have on occasion only had the center speaker working, I mean what’s all that about ? You can’t watch a big Hollywood blockbuster in mono and appreciate what the director is trying to convey. I am Legend is just another one in a string of films that I’ve left thinking ‘that was good but i would have liked to hear it properly’. Seeing as DVDs have dropped so much in price now it works out far cheaper to buy it on release than paying £15 for two people to go and watch at the cinema. Other films I’ve seen at Odean in mono were The Departed, Matrix Reloaded. Kingdom of Heaven and Troy. There’s no wonder audience attendance at the cinema is dropping if this is the best viewing quality Odean can offer, the cinema was almost completely empty at 9.30pm on a friday evening I wonder why?
I’ve complained to the management there in the past and granted have received free tickets to see another film, but that doesnt really make up for losing that initial impression you get of a film when you first watch it. Time to find an alternative venue now, or just wait for films to come out on DVD.