Torch Online review: I Am Legend 2-disc DVD

When “I Am Legend” was released back on December 14, it was met with a slightly mixed reaction from critics, and that includes us. The first and second acts of the film were great, containing solid acting, suspense and emotion. But then the characters Anna and Ethan were introduced and the film slowly degraded, eventually putting forth an ending that, while appropriate, left many with a sour taste in their mouths. The DVD has arrived in stores today, March 18, and while the film’s entire third act cannot be rectified, the alternative ending included in the 2-disc edition makes the film well worth a purchase.

For those unfamiliar with the film, or those who have simply forgot, “Legend” revolves around Robert Neville, played by Will Smith. Loosely based on Richard Matheson’s novel of the same name, Neville is a United States Army virologist whose cure for cancer goes horrendously wrong. Opening in 2012, the “cure” had two effects: it killed those who came into contact with it, or it turned them into dark-seekers, which are essentially vampire zombies. As he has immunity, Neville, accompanied only by his dog Sam, is the last man in New York and quite possibly the world.

As we mentioned, the first two-thirds of the movie are great but the introduction of Anna and Ethan leads to its demise. But of course, we are not here to judge the movie as much as we are the DVD. Thankfully, the 2-disc release is well worth your time and money.

The second disc of the set includes the alternate version of the film. A vast majority of it is not too different than the original. An extra scene that shows Neville, Anna and Ethan at the Museum of Natural History is squeezed in after their introduction. The really good stuff comes at the end, though. This new ending gives a whole new sense of emotion that works very well. Robert earns the title of Legend more so here than in the original ending, though not quite as much when compared to the original novel. And while the original ending will be acceptable, many may come away from this ending and appreciate it more.

An Internet-based, rarely seen feature is included on the second disc as well. Inserting the disc into your computer will give you the option to go to the alternate version of the film or to download the digital version of the film. You are given a key on the inside of the DVD case that you may enter if you wish to nab the digital copy. It is quite convenient if you don’t want to deal with having to insert the DVD, but just make sure you have enough space on your hard drive.

The first of the two discs includes most of the bonus features. The material accessible on the DVD player consists of four animated comics that show how the virus infected other parts of the world. Animated comic is how it is translated on the screen, but the exact style is hard to describe. The animation is beautiful and seems to be a bit of a hybrid. There are incredibly slight hints of anime style mixed in, but for the most part the shorts look like storyboards come to life. Some may have seen at least two of the shorts on the Xbox Live Marketplace; they were available for download prior to the film’s release.

Other extras on the disc must be accessed through a computer with an Internet connection and are worth looking into. There is the near-essential making of the film, but there is something even more interesting: a look at current life-threatening viral infections. Interesting for those who can handle it, but hypochondriacs should obviously stay away from the video. It is important to note that the features can only be accessed on a Windows-based PC with Windows Media Player 11. Those with a Mac or anything else will be out of luck.

The single disc edition of the film includes only the features listed in the first of these two discs, so it is really worth it to pick up the 2-disc set. For you high definition owners out there, Legend is also out on Blu-Ray Disc and includes all of the features included in the 2-disc set. HD DVD owners, fret not, as this will be one of the last new films you will be able to pick up before it all ends. The HD DVD version will be released April 8.