There will always be a memory in my life that might forever redefine my judgement in the quality of cinematic films. My tendency to get sucked into the hype of a movie just by looking at the trailer changed after a tandem lesson during the late naughts.
Late December 2007 I believe. The snow was falling heavily outside. At the local theater that has ten screens each showing one film. The higher up on the list, the more important the film is. Me, my sisters, mom, and uncle. Right from the start, I could tell there would be a split in interests. They all were interested in one film while I had slightly different tastes.
It was a decision between two dark movies, both of them featuring lead actors with sharply contrasting talents and backgrounds. It was Will Smith in I Am Legend and Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. The latter was obviously the more popular choice among the movie-going family and was watched multiple times later on when it came out on home video, while ‘Legend’ was largely forgotten and ridiculed by the uncle who saw it with me in a separate theater. He still complains about that to this day, asking why I chose the Will Smith film over Johnny Depp’s cult classic, why we dished out six dollars each for this forgettable, mediocre film. I was simply interested in the post-apocalyptic piece about the last man on Earth, based on Richard Matheson’s 1954 novel of the same name. The movie, especially the ending, however, turned out to be a disappointment to most people. I don’t know if it was Will Smith’s acting or the lack of characters in a film about a lack of people but all of my excitement and anticipation in seeing this film was over before the credits rolled. That last scene with the infected people ruined what I thought was a perfectly believable and entertaining movie.
Sweeney Todd, while having some pretty gory and bloody killing scenes, is one movie that is very memorable and full of wonderful actors. And the dance numbers and singing – “JoAnna” always is referenced once or twice. One of the best scenes from that movie is the barbershop contest between Sweeney Todd, AKA Benjamin Barker, and the guy played by Sasha Baron Cohen. Oh, and the scene about describing what is actually in the Miracle of Elixir to growing hair (hint: it’s not apple juice).
How many scenes from I Am Legend can I vividly recall and call my favorite? Virtually none. All I remember is the lone man having a dog and something about a virus. Not much to go on, humor wise.
Both movies having an average rating of 7.5 stars on IMDb so I guess the decision between the two wasn’t so bad after all. I’m shocked that ‘Legend’ is rated that high. I guess I’ll have to see it again to get a different perspective.
I don’t regret anything from that theater day, even if I left my screening feeling cheated out of my money and popcorn and soda feeling more indulging than the film itself. I took a chance to see a film of my choice, not one that everyone else went with. I guess I wanted to feel like a rebel. It would have been too easy to go with the eventual popular choice and I wasn’t a big fan of Johnny Depp back then, seeing him as more of a theatrical actor who only starred in novelty films. The other half of the family seemed a lot more excited after getting out of their screening, with me and uncle subdued and more interested in what the other film was about.
Thankfully, I paid him back a favor by seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens last December so that all visions of that disappointing zombie people flick were evaporated. There is a sequel or prequel to I Am Legend slated to come out this year. Maybe I should repeat history and go against a more sensible choice? Or have I learned my lesson to invest my money in a film that will be worthwhile and easily remembered for years to come? If it were Johnny Depp vs. Will Smith again I think the decision would be very easy. To the left, to the left, as Beyoncé would say.
Daily Prompt: Unpopular
Tell us about a time when you had to choose between two options, and you picked the unpopular choice.