I Am Legend—Warner Bros. (Blu-ray)
Will Smith's post apocalyptic epic finds its way to HD in stunning form. This was a gamble for the actor. The film rests completely on his shoulders and finds him alone for almost the entire picture. Smith shows he has the chops though and delivers a spectacular performance both as an action star and damaged man. I am a fan of the book so my opinion of the movie is a bit hit or miss. They did cover the theme of the book a bit better than previous adaptations, but I still like the 3rd act of the book better than the film. This home video release also features an alternate cut with a completely different ending. In a way the new ending pays a bit of homage to the original material, but it is still a departure. I actually like both endings but if I had to lean one way I would opt for the new alternate ending.
Warner has done a spectacular job with this HD presentation and delivers what may be one of their best to date. There is a startling sense of depth and dimension to the image and fine detail is as good as I've seen anywhere. Contrast is exceptional and even low light sequences have great shadow detail and dimensionality. The CG effects show a bit of softness here and there but that was also readily apparent when I saw it in theaters. If anything, they look a bit sharper this time around. Compression never seems to be an issue at all; a solid reference transfer.
The Blu-ray release features a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix that is incredibly dynamic. This is a quiet mix for a lot of the film but when the dynamics are needed, they are delivered in spades. It is startling at times how effective the mood is conveyed only to have your heart jump when the soundtrack picks up. The sense of space is almost eerie at times, especially some of the outdoor sequences. Deep bass is delivered with aplomb and there are some nice infrasonics to boost the tension of the film. A first class soundtrack and a spectacular presentation all around.
Warner has included quite a few supplements for this release but I was surprised they didn't opt to include an "in-movie experience". There are a handful of production features that cover locations, stunts, special effects and casting and all have behind the scenes footage and interviews with the cast and crew. There is also a feature about viral infections with some real world scientists that sheds light on the possibility of this type of pandemic happening. Last up is a collection of animated short films that tie in to the film. These were available on Apple before the film came out and give a bit of backstory to the film’s events. All are shown in full HD.
This release gets a strong recommendation. The film is excellent (despite some slightly weak CG effects here and there) and the A/V presentation is one of the best to date. What is even more surprising is the price for this one online. Other studios should take notice as Warner has delivered a solid "A" product here at a VERY attractive price.