The last month has seen the return of several flagship Netflix shows including Stranger Things and The Umbrella Academy. But when it comes to movies the streaming service has been a little bit underwhelming as of late.
Original efforts like Spiderhead and The Man from Toronto didn’t quite hit the mark, but the streamer just got a mid-2000s favorite that stars Will Smith at the very peak of his powers. Originally released in 2007, I Am Legend is a post-apocalyptic action-thriller based on the 1954 novel of the same name and enjoys cult status to this day.
The film just hit Netflix on Friday (July 1), and its arrival feels particularly well-timed. It was revealed earlier this year that a sequel is in development, with Michael B. Jordan is expected to join the cast alongside a returning Smith (Assuming the project hasn’t been iced in the wake of Smith’s controversial slap of Chris Rock on stage at the Oscars).
What is I Am Legend about?
I Am Legend is set in a dystopian future in which an attempt to cure cancer accidentally unleashed a deathly virus on the public. Those not killed by the virus are instead turned into cannibalistic mutants known as Darkseekers, who prey at night time due to being vulnerable to sunlight.
Smith plays Dr. Robert Neville, a virologist who is immune to the virus. After losing his wife and daughter he now lives in a deserted Manhattan desperately trying to find a cure for the virus, but he’s not even sure if there are any humans left alive to save.
At night he roams the empty city streets, and savages for food and supplies. By night he locks himself away as the Darkseekers stalk the city looking for prey. The film is a zippy thriller that covers plenty of ground in 100 minutes and is packed with adrenaline-pumping sequences.
What do critics say about I Am Legend?
I Am Legend currently holds a score of 68% on Rotten Tomatoes. And while that’s certainly not the highest rating we’ve ever seen for a movie, it is strong enough to be rated fresh. Plus, the movie has a 7.2 score on IMDb which is a little stronger and perhaps suggests that viewers enjoyed the film more than critics.
Will Smith’s performance was singled out for praise by many critics back in 2007, but there was some controversy about the ending which was changed from the movie’s source material. Some accused the new ending of missing the point of the story’s original conclusion, but others felt it added extra emotional punch.
Why you should stream I Am Legend this weekend
As noted above, with a sequel on the way, now is the perfect time to watch I Am Legend for the first time, or revisit this post-apocalyptic depiction of New York City. The film has held up remarkably well over the last 15 years, with only some slightly ropey CGI in the third act aging the film. Nevertheless, it remains a punchy film that will keep you engaged throughout.
The movie also contains one of Will Smith’s finest performances, which is no small praise considering the caliber of his career. Sure, the new ending is a little controversial, but you can also seek out the alternative conclusion which was originally included on the DVD release, it sticks much closer to the spirit of the original novel.
I Am Legend hitting Netflix this month is a well-timed reminder that sometimes it’s worth revisiting the classic rather than defaulting to watching the newest movies on your streaming service of choice.
Read next: Take a look at This 19-year-old comedy that's just cracked the Netflix top 10 — but is it any good? And for some streaming news, check out how HBO canceled The Time Traveler’s Wife after just a single season.