Well who woulda thunk it. After months of seeing trailers that made this film look like a 2-bit “I Am Legend,” I am happy to report it is anything but that. This movie is chock full of good scenes that take a little bit from a lot of movies and simply uses them in new and exciting ways!
It’s not a new story…a virus proceeds to infect humans at an ungodly rate (Contagion), causing them to be “biters” who ingest the virus into their victims’ bloodstreams. In less than 12 seconds, they are gnarling, snapping zombies (28 Days Later) who will race you down, pounce on you like a leopard and bite you. Our hero, Gerry (Pitt), must go looking for the cure (I Am Legend) in hopes of saving our race. It sounds textbook, doesn’t it? But under the watchful eye of Mr. Pitt and director Marc Forster, what could have been a dull retread is actually very compelling a chock full of intense and exciting thrills!
The glue to this whole thing though is Pitt. This guy is definitely one of the best actors in the business. He carries this movie on his shoulders and never once looks like he’s mailing it in. Even when he survives a plane crash, you believe it could happen, and this is why the guy is a shining star in Hollywood today. He can make you believe it even if it’s a ridiculous scenerio. To begin the movie, he is sent to find the place where this epidemic all began. With communication out in many places of the world, he hops on several aircraft (Navy, commercial, helicopters, whatever will get him there) in hopes to find clues to how to stop the virus. It’s not a pleasant journey and there are a lot of last second heroics in many places throughout the film. However Pitt does a great job of keeping our eyes on him so that we don’t have time to roll them and say, “No way he survives THAT.”
There are a few notable performances in here. Emerson’s wife, Karin (played by Mireille Enos) is a tough cookie but Enos plays her just right, giving her enough backbone to keep her daughters calm yet worried enough that we believe she isn’t as tough as she seems. And later in the movie, Pitt joins forces with a young female soldier. I went looking for her name on IMDB but couldn’t place her but she does a great job in her role and ends up having a pretty prominent part in the film!
It has been said that the original ending of this movie was so bad that Pitt demanded that they find a better way to end it. Let me just say that he was absolutely correct in doing so. Not really knowing WHAT the previous ending was, I CAN say that this ending is very fitting for this movie and I felt it was a perfect for the type of film this ends up being, which is less a “zombie” movie and more a film about how the human race would survive if there ever were a killer virus unleashed on our population.
Needless to say, THIS is probably going to be the most pleasant surprise of the summer. I had very low hopes going into it but this Pitt production definitely took me by surprise and might even end up being one of my favorite movies of the year!
Overall Rating: A