I Am Legend
Having already seen and reviewed the film I was keen to see the alternative version on the disc as well as see and hear just how good it was on Blu-ray. I have to say that this transfer lifted up the film in my eyes, a film that had already impressed me on the big screen.
Out of this the story comes a lone survivor, a man who is immune to the disease and who has been trying to find a cure since the disease first hit. Years in and he's still trying to find a cure and is clinging to everything human left around him.
For the full review of the film head over here. However I will add that on second viewing there were a lot more subtleties about the story and Will Smith's performance than I noticed on the second viewing, and helped by the Blu-ray audio and video transfer which immerses you in the film.
There's also something else to note here, although the previous review looks to the theatrical version of the film, I watched the alternate version, and let's just forget what you've seen about the alternate ending, there's much more than that, and that's what surprised me.
The changes to the story come after the night time accident, and without giving the story away there are some additional scenes that build on the relationships involved. There are also some additional touches that build that final scene we saw online and a nice closing sequence.
With all these additions to the story the alternative version is a much more interesting proposition to the one seen in the cinema and the one we saw online. It ads more depth to the story of the creatures and also to the role that the Doctor plays in it all and what could be his ultimate fate.
I really enjoyed the alternate version, an ending that was much less Hollywood for all those involved, and it gave Will Smith some more dramatic acting than the theatrical one.
I love the fact that the film has such a wide aspect to it, almost in every shot. A wide lens doesn't hide anything from the audience and really presses home the fact that this man is truly alone and that the city around him is slowly being reclaimed.
Some of these shots look epic, and cinematically they are just gorgeous to look at, particularly with the excellent lighting. Blasted through a 1080p television from the Blu-ray source almost takes your breath away during some shots.
Originally I had a few things to say about the effects, effects which didn't really convince on the big screen. What I find interesting is, although they aren't perfect, on 1080p high definition they look more convincing than before, whether that's me being less critical or the fact that all the details in the effect shots can now be seen and therefore feel a little more real, I don't know.
Dolby TrueHD, DD 5.1
The sound is spectacular with the Dolby TrueHD, the first time I've really experienced the new high definition audio tracks with a film. The sounds are rich and varied, and I really did pick up on the depth and the spacial accuracy of them. The sound travelled around me and I seemed to be in the middle of things much more than before. It felt as though the audio had much more range and focus in where it came from around the room, and it was much sharper than before.
One of the moments that sticks in my head, apart from the glorious sound of the speeding car in the opening scenes, was a quiet scene where birds were chirping from somewhere behind me.
Alternate Ending/Version, Creating I Am Legend - 50 Minutes of behind the scenes footage, Cautionary Tale: The Science of I Am Legend, Animated Comics (Four)
I love alternate endings, usually because they show a more powerful and far less Hollywood ending than the one distributed with the film, and often they give a completely different feeling to the end of the film and therefore to the feeling you take away from watching it. This is all true of the ending featured here, although the cinematic ending isn't all Hollywood, and this one does give you a little Hollywood too, it leaves you with completely different feelings and hopes for the characters.
I really enjoyed seeing this one on the DVD, and there's an added bonus here in that you can watch the complete alternate version including some extra scenes in the main film.
Creating I Am Legend - 50 Minutes of behind the scenes footage
This really does go on for some time, but there are some interesting moments and seeing behind some of the stunts and on street filming is interesting. I think it could have done with some harder editing though to make it a little more interesting as sometimes it does drag on a little and I felt myself wandering from the screen.
Cautionary Tale: The Science of I Am Legend
Perhaps the most gripping and informative part of the DVD offering is this feature that looks at the real life possibilities of a disease sweeping across the world and wiping out huge swathes of human life. We hear from many of the American CDC and they talk of investigating and breaking down diseases to discover what makes them tick and how they work. They even talk about why they believed that SARS could have been the next big Flu killer. Fascinating stuff.
Animated Comics (Four)
During the marketing of the film some short animated comics, i.e. cartoons, were made to market the story, and these are offered on the DVD. The only real bad thing about these is that they are so short and incomplete and they really do make you wish for more. They are superbly created and animated and don't pull any punches in some of the smaller, individual stories that they tell in the outbreak of the disease. I really enjoyed them but was utterly disappointed in their length as the stories they chose to tell had so much to offer.
This is a superb Blu-ray offering with superb quality of picture and audio, especially as it's offered in Dolby TrueHD. With the alternate version being offered as a complete film it makes the viewing experience so much better than just watching the ending as an extra.
On the extras there's loads of behind the scenes footage, some of which could have been tightened up a little, and an excellent real life featurette and animated comics, all of which are well worth watching and don't at all feel like they've been used as fillers.
The film itself is very good with a superb performance by Will Smith. I have no hesitation at all in recommending this film as a purchase, particularly with the alternate version being offered almost giving you two films in one.
I Am Legend is a superb Blu-ray release that really shines in high definition.