I Am Legend (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

I Am Legend 4K Blu-ray ReviewI Am Legend is best known to me as that Will Smith “zombie” apocalypse movie that featured the real star of the show…a red 2007 Shelby GT500.  He does drive other Ford vehicles in the film, but none compare to that beastly, now classic muscle car.  Now I know how that can be construed by someone just reading this.  You’re probably thinking Brian hates this film and the only thing good about it is some stupid race car.  That couldn’t be farther from the truth.  I don’t hate I Am Legend at all.  It’s no World War Z, but it’s definitely not the worst “zombie” film ever made either.  I consider it middle of the road and for me it’s a very odd selection for Warner Bros. to include in their next wave of catalog 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray releases alongside Goodfellas, Argo and The Town.  You get where I’m going here?  However, for the moment I wish to digress and for the next five minutes or so (depending upon how fast of a reader you are) I’d like to discuss all things I Am Legend.  After all, that is my job!

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I Am Legend is directed by Francis Lawrence (Constantine).  This 2007 American post-apocalyptic horror film is based on the 1954 novel of the same name by Richard Matheson.  It is the third feature-film adaptation of Matheson’s novel, following 1964’s The Last Man on Earth and 1971’s The Omega Man.  You had to have heard by now there’s no such thing as an original idea in Hollywood, right?  Ha ha.  And so if you’re familiar with this film, then you’ll also know it has a really small cast.  The three billed actors include two-time Academy Award Nominee Will Smith (The Pursuit of Happyness, Ali, Suicide Squad), Alice Braga (Lower City, Crossing Over), Dash Mihok (Ray Donovan), Charlie Tahan and Willow Smith.

Besides the Shelby GT500 I already mentioned up above Will Smith is the best part about this adaptation of I Am Legend.  He delivers a commanding performance as Robert Neville, Manhattan’s solitary survivor of a man-made virus that wiped out most of humanity.  He is the peanut butter to the jelly that holds this production together.  Think of Tom Hanks in Cast Away.  Now think of Will Smith in I Am Legend.  That’s right!  We’re talking about some serious alone time onscreen.  However, when you have a capable actor such as Will Smith achieving a feat such as this successfully is not a stretch at all.  I Am Legend may not exactly be a feel good movie, but worry not as Will Smith steals the show with his humor, wit and charm.  If you think about what I just typed, then tell me who he could have stolen the show from considering it’s pretty much a solo outing for him here.  Ha ha.

The story of this film adaptation of I Am Legend goes a little something like this.  In 2009 a devastating man-made virus (originally created to cure cancer) eradicates the majority of the Earth’s and turns the remaining few into deadly, mutated hunters (more about those in a bit).  So US Army virologist Lieutenant Colonel Robert Neville is a brilliant scientist, and he is somehow immune to all of this.  He is now the last human survivor in what is left of New York City and who knows maybe the world.  For years, Neville has scoured the cityscapes and faithfully sent out daily radio messages, desperate to find any other survivors who might be out there.  However, he is not truly alone in this wasteland.  Yes he has his loyal sidekick, his loving dog Sam, but I’m talking “zombies” now!  Mutant victims of the plague, called The Infected or Darkseekers, lurk in the shadows… watching Neville’s every move…studying him…and wait for him to make one fatal mistake.  Little does anyone know, but mankind’s last, best hope, is the survival of Neville.  His one mission and sole purpose on this planet still is to find a way to reverse the effects of the virus using his own immune blood before he runs out of time or is exterminated, which ever comes first.

From my research of the film I’m told the breakout of this virus’ destruction goes a little something like this:

The global destruction in I Am Legend is caused by a genetically re-engineered measles virus, originally created as a cure for cancer, but turns into a lethal strain which kills 94% of those it infects, mutates 5% into predatory, nocturnal mutants called “Darkseekers” who are extremely vulnerable to sunlight and other sources of UV, with only the remaining 1% immune.

Like I said up above Will Smith does an exceptional job at singlehandedly carrying this story.  His tender moments with Sam, whose friendship is rooted in both loneliness and protection, are some of the film’s best (and ultimately saddest too).  We learn what makes Robert tick and what he tries to accomplish daily through his routines to not only stay alive, but try to save humanity too.  This all works well.  The second half of the film though is where things fall apart.  Let’s set aside the discussion as to whether or not these Darkseekers should be human actors or not.  Yes they are horridly created with CG, but that’s neither here or there.

The movie’s biggest fumbling is the ending in my opinion.  Where do you take this one?  How far do you push it?  Will people except the bleakness of it or do they want that magical Hollywood ending?  They even filmed a different ending to this feature in fear they did not get it right the first time, hence the “alternate ending version” that exists.  I don’t know if I could have came up with something better myself, but the theatrical film becomes a real “Debbie Downer” by its conclusion after having raised the tension levels up through the roof.  The “alternate ending” version is the one I prefer.  Sadly, we don’t get that ending on the 4K UHD disc here.  The prequel or sequels planned for this film franchise never materialized.  I wonder why.  I enjoy the hell out of the first two Acts and then boom it’s over in a serious rush as Act 3 comes to a blazing close.  Oh well.  Now I’ll let you all discuss how horrible these mutants look onscreen against their human counterparts, or do they?  Go!

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The below video score and related critique of things here are based solely upon my viewing of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of I Am Legend.

  • Encoding: HEVC / H.265
  • Resolution: 4K (2160p)
  • Layers: BD-66
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.4:1
  • Clarity/Detail: What’s great about this 4K release is there’s pretty much fine detail in every single shot here.  Skin characteristics such as stubble, pores, sweat and hair follicles can be seen clearly as can textures such as Will’s corduroy pants, textures such as wood grain, water on cement, etc.  Even the crowd scenes pop with clarity and fine detail.  What I was most worried about, the CG of the Darkseekers in eye popping 4K wasn’t as bad as I feared compared to how fake the explosions outside Neville’s house in Act Three looked.  I’m just saying!  Last but not least I wanted to comment and give props to how intricate and sharp the various set pieces looked throughout here.  They really made things pop in a three-dimensional kind of way here.
  • Depth: Despite the fact there’s a lot of CG involved here the depth of field is still quite remarkable from the vastness of the post-apocalyptic NY city streets to the various indoor sceneries our hero chooses to creep around in.
  • Black Levels: The black levels are fantastic and excel here thanks in part to the HDR grading.  While everything is deep and inky the details are in the shadows here adding more fear and dread  to every creeping scene.  What I liked best of all was there wasn’t any noisy or obnoxious grain in the dark sequences.
  • Color Reproduction: Here’s where what really impresses me about this presentation.  Given the subject matter you’d expect this one to be a drab, dull experience color-wise.  It’s quite the opposite as certain colors pop like the cop loving red Shelby GT-500, but for the most part they’re rich, earthy, lifelike and full.
  • Flesh Tones: The skin tones, while few, are all natural and authentic looking throughout.
  • Noise/Artifacts: There is a fine amount of grain visible in certain shots as well as some source noise.  It’s most notable in the daylight within the pale blue skies.  The worst shot I saw while watching the 4K presentation was when Will was dragging himself down the street after being stabbed and the apparent CG background was noisy as all hell separating the main action and set from the obvious green screen in the distance.

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Like I mentioned up above in the video section, the below audio score and critical comments of such are based solely upon my viewing of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray presentation of I Am Legend.  It should be noted that both the theatrical and alternate ending versions on the 1080p Blu-ray disc feature a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track.

  • Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD MA 5.1, English Descriptive Audio 2.0, French (Both Parisian and Dubbed in Quebec) Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish (Castilian & Latin) Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
  • Dynamics: The price of admission is worth its weight in gold here with the dynamics in I Am Legend on 4K UHD.  You see it’s the silent moments that allows you to take the eerie setting all in how the birds and insects chirp so when the defining, shocking and terrifying moments happen they make the wait all the worthwhile.  Every onscreen event is reproduced in this surround track with the utmost of clarity, priority and directionality.  Camera pans and movement faithfully follow, but perhaps one of my favorite moments is anything to do with glass, whether its pounding on it, breaking or slowly splintering.  I just love how wide open this one sounds even in the quietest of sequences.  It’s terrifying how good it sounds.  It literally sets the mood for loneliness, terror and that feeling of being trapped in a dystopia world by it all.  Authenticity is key!  Just listen to the rustle of the corn and vegetation Robert goes through.  Tell me that doesn’t sound real.
  • Low Frequency Extension: The LFE channel is a core underlying component to the beefiness of the surround track here from the throaty growl of the Shelby GT-500 tearing down the empty city streets to the subtle but rumbling score, glass breaking, door slamming, windows violently shutting, explosions rocking, gunplay and the many various thuds throughout.  Your subwoofer won’t let you down when called upon.  Look no further than the one scene of a bridge collapsing to fully understand what I’m talking about.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: Equally impressive are the rear channels here which come to life throughout from the wind, birds, the GT-500 spinning out, lions, various sound effects, the Darkseekers howling and shrieking, a golf ball drive, crowds, helicopters, gunfire, tension wire and so much more.  Best of all directionality is paramount throughout here with the utmost of precision.  Every camera pan, jerk or onscreen event happens all around you authentically as it transpires in real-time on your television.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: For the most part, with an exception of a loud helicopter scene, the dialogue is always clear and intelligible.

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I Am Legend is now available on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack courtesy of Warner Bros. and features an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with the theatrical feature film in 4K with HDR plus an optional audio commentary track (that I don’t see on the 1080p Blu-ray disc — so that’s a plus!), a 1080p Blu-ray disc with the feature film, alternate version of the film, and special features in HD and a Digital HD version of the feature film redeemable at your favorite UltraViolet retailer (VUDU will give you the 4K UHD version).  So what do you say we take a closer look down below at all the extras found on the 1080p Blu-ray disc?  Sounds like a plan to me!

  • Cautionary Tale: The Science of I Am Legend (1080p, 20:41) –  This is where we look at the real life science behind the ideas in the film here.  We get to explore the history of pandemic viral infections and the reality of life threatening microbes lying in wait to impact all of mankind.  Here the cast such as Will Smith, crew such as director Francis Lawrence, doctors and professors all chime in and discus viruses 101 and how they can infect our society.  They even compare Herpes and Ebola to the virus at hand in the movie here.
  • Creating I Am Legend (SD, 51:58) – Here we have 21 short featurettes or different mini segments that focus on many of the aspects behind-the-scenes of production here such as the weapons, the German Shepherd star, physical training, sets, locations, the story, the creatures and more.  Interviews with key players and cast throughout the segments round out the knowledge they pour into you here.
  • Animated Comics (HD, 21:50) – Yawn.  There are four short animated comics that somewhat relate to the film: Death as a Gift, Isolation, Sacrificing The Few For The Many and Shelter.  If you’re not a big fan of the film, feel free to skip this extra.  You have the option to play them all or individually.

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I Am Legend is definitely not the 4K Ultra HD feel good movie of the year, not by a long shot.  This one was an odd pick by Warner Bros. to release this month on the 4K format when you consider their other catalog selections: The Town, Argo and Goodfellas.  Things looked decent and sounded great (plus you get an audio commentary on the 4K disc), but in my opinion this film has very low replay value compared to the other three titles I just got done mentioning. So needless to say your mileage may very with this title.  However, that’s not to say that Warner Bros. did not do a great job on yet another catalog release here because they certainly did!  I just wish it was a better film.  The best part for me of I Am Legend is the “Batman v. Superman” billboard.  Speaking of DC Comics, next up from me review-wise is Suicide Squad in 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray next week.  Stay tuned!


DISCLAIMER: This 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray review was judged and graded using the following 4K certified A/V gear found here.  Make sure to check out all our 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray reviews archived here.


It’s Just Another Day In The Hood

When I AM Legend Cleanses Society

on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Released December 6th!




I Am Legend 4K Blu-ray Cover


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

6 Responses to “I Am Legend (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)”

  1. rex

    Would have been nice for you to compare this 4k release to the blu ray, this was mastered in 2k right ? so its a upscale and I suppose the only real benefit is the high dynamic range, which would be the only reason to upgrade, good to see you reviewed it but I think you missed the opposite because after reading this I still haven’t got a clue weather to re buy this again or not because there’s no comparison.

  2. Brian White

    Hi Rex. I appreciate the comment. The former reviews of I Am Legend were wishy washy in the fact that many said this was perfect. Therein lies my problem as now I’m having to nitpick as to how does the CG look upscaled to 4K. Well I had no issues with the monsters, but the explosions looked fake as hell (almost as bad as TMNT Out of the Shadows explosions). 4K also introduces more source noise and grain. Some of the dark scenes, while exemplary were a tad weird looking. I look at it this way, you have a DTS-HD track here instead of the original TrueHD track and I looked on the Blu-ray disc but could not find an audio commentary. This one has it on 4K. It all depends upon how big of a fan you are IMO. I personally would never drop 30 bones on this one, but rather would wait until it falls in price. That’s my two cents.

  3. Wael Fakhouri

    Hi Brian, i really found the presentation underwhelming compared to the original Blu-Ray.
    Colors are way oversaturated especially Will Smith’s skin tones, and day time scenes are much more darker compared to the original. I really think the HDR was badly implemented in that title… Overall I much prefer the Blu-Ray unfortunately. Setup used Oppo UDP-203 & Samsung 88JS9500.

  4. Brian White

    Hi! Thanks for the feedback. I have yet to get my hands on the Oppo player. I’m not a huge fan of this film, but as you know I really did not compare it to the Blu so I’m sure you have very valid points. I know I prefer the Blu-ray’s alt ending 🙂

  5. Wael Fakhouri

    I really like the site’s reviews in general, very detailed and up to speed with the new UHD releases.
    But please bear in mind that most UHD users come from Blu-ray, and probably most would like to know for catalog releases if it’s an improvement (or in this case imo a downgrade) over the regular Blu before committing to double dipping. Just a reader’s opinion and keep up the good work.

  6. Brian White

    Completely understood and will work into future reviews like my most recent review of Underworld where I do say it’s not worth the upgrade from the Blu-ray IMO.