This remake of The Omega Man starring Charlton Heston sees Will Smith (Robert Neville) as the last man on earth, tasking himself with finding the cure for a virus that turns its victims into mindless killers, placing this movie along the likes of other zombie fests 28 Days Later or Dawn of the Dead, with the twist that these zombies, nay, more like shedding, super, gymnastic humans that can transfer their virus via touch or air, lending credence to statistical impossibility of the virus wiping out the rest of the world.
Neville is an army doctor that discovered that a retrovirus that was engineered to cure cancer turned rogue, turning all its recipients into mindless killers that ultimately loses their even basic human instinct, with the hunger for blood driving them. When he discovered that the virus has evolved the ability to jump from host to host airborne, he made all efforts to get his family off of the island of Manhattan, where this movie is based in. This airborne transfer of the virus echoes our real life fears of the human bird flu virus jumping via the same means, which will make you start to think the possibility of all the events on screen happening in real life.
Our attempts at correlating events happening in these kinds of movies usually draw us into the story far more effectively. How many times have you wondered what would you do in a zombie outbreak? What weapon would you grab first? Where would you fortify and barricade yourself in? No doubt, this is the kinds of thought provoking questions that the script is posing to the audience. What would you do if you thought that you are indeed the last man on earth? How would you keep yourself sane?
The answer is that he has the family dog that keep him company while going around doing routines to that fills out his days. Either hunting for food, or collecting supplies, or a trip to the video store, his dog is his trusty companion, giving him something to talk to. It’s also a link to his past, where he tries to get his family off of the island of Manhattan. But isn’t this a zombie-like movie you ask? Aren’t the streets filled with screeching creatures that breaks into a run whenever they see a human?
If there were afflicted humans running around running amok all the time, it’d make a darn boring movie, what with the main protagonist huddling in his bath tub for three years. The plot of these creatures not being able to tolerate UV rays gives off a vibe of vampire movies, and has them being labeled as Darkseekers at one point later on in the movie, as these things usually seek the darkness in abandoned buildings to keep themselves out of the sun’s rays during the day. This plot device allows Neville to go out during the day, while trying to occupy his time documenting his efforts of finding a cure for the virus that he himself is immune to.
His immunity leads him to believe that the burden of finding the cure at the source of the outbreak is his alone to bear, concocting various mutations of his immune blood and injecting them into various virus carriers. This means that he has to catch these things whenever he has the chance, displeasure even, of running into a pack of them. He sets elaborate traps to capture these creatures; and at one point, which was unclear if it was due to his sanity finally slipping or somehow the plot reverses unto itself and the creatures manage to think all of a sudden; he gets caught by the same kind of trap that he used to capture the creatures. And at that point, the proverbial shit hits the proverbial fan.
I think I shall refrain from typing any more, as there would be huge spoilers that will ruin the movie for you. For me, I didn’t even catch a single full, official trailer before coming into the cinema, only knowing the existence of the movie from watching HBO’s special on it, and as previous movies have shown, I’d rather not know even a single tidbit of information so I can reserve my judgment in the theatre.
What’s my take on it? Good movie and it makes you think as well. The repercussions of genetic engineering or the possibility of a virus wiping out all humans might weigh in during your viewing. The emotional struggle to keep one’s sanity during the whole ordeal is one thing that’s rarely touched upon in most zombie apocalyptic movies. This is an 8/10 for me, only slightly marred by the obviously CG creatures. And what would be the first thing I’d grab in the event of a zombie apocalypse? My lawnmower, a la Dead Alive, or probably a hand attached chainsaw.
A ritual performed by Tutong, or Tutong-born, bride or groom during their wedding ceremony. More ably explained here.
And oh, it was the first outing for Dorothy. 😉