I've seen two films this weekend, "I Am Legend" and "The Golden Compass." Funny. One is controversial for it's supposed atheistic agenda, and the other is loaded with Christian symbolism.
*POSSIBLE SPOILERS HERE* (I promise I won't give away any endings or plot twists.)
"The Golden Compass" was no problem for a heathen like me to enjoy. I suppose it could have been a lot better. The editing was a little shaky, and the story definitely could have been more cohesive. Some of the more interesting ideas were a little under-developed. Also, some of the acting seemed a little half-hearted at times, although there was no shortage of outstanding actors. There was plenty of eye candy, though, what with the airships and daemons and talking, drinking, brawling polar bears. I will say that this film is probably a bit heavy for the average child. I'm not sure what age group the books were aimed at, but this is not what I'd consider a kid's film. It has a serious body count, and the script is a bit verbose and philosophical (again, for something that looks like it's aimed at kids). I think it would have been a better film if they'd given it to someone like Terry Gilliam or Guillermo del Toro, someone who could have taken it further in that direction, given it a darker edge. And yes, I can see why some religious organizations are upset about the film. The story is more or less an allegory for the struggle between religious teachings and scientific progress, if I understood correctly. Fine. From the POV of an agnostic, it still looks like the same old good vs. evil story, kind of like Narnia (with its Christian "agenda?"), but a little more three-dimensional. I just hope they get a real director for the sequels.
"I Am Legend," on the other hand, should please a few Christians, especially those who like explosions and post-apocalyptic vampire-mutants (fans of the old testament?). For those who don't know, it's the third film based on the book "I Am Legend" by Richard Matheson. The first was the eerie, campy Vincent Price film "The Last Man on Earth." (George Romero actually said that his "Night of the Living Dead" was partially inspired by that film.) Next came "The Omega Man" with Charleton Heston. It wasn't very scary, but it did have some style, and Anthony Zerbe was excellent as the leader of the mutants. Now we have "I Am Legend" starring Will Smith and a whole lot of unnecessary CGI. Unlike in the other versions, the zombie-vampire-mutants don't talk at all here, although they can reason a bit. They're more like the rage-infected "zombies" from "28 Days Later." They're also computer-generated, for some reason. So are the deer and lions. And lab rats. And maybe one of the cars. But not the dog. At least they didn't pull a "Beowulf" and use a CGI capture of Will Smith. He actually gets to do some acting in this film. I like the focus in this version on the insanity that comes with loneliness and isolation. The other versions didn't take the idea very far. Vincent Price just seemed a little depressed, and Charleton Heston just seemed a little annoyed. Will Smith actually gets to go a bit insane, and he does it well. Then, of course, he finds religion.