Much of the movie is an establishment of Neville's state of mind. Through present day events in the year 2012 and flashbacks to the fifteen minutes before the final quarantine of Manhattan, Neville is forced to endure tragedy after tragedy. Smith succeeds in using his natural charisma to make us sympathize with the character, but not feel sorry for him. He is not someone that we want to help, but someone that we want to help himself. As the movie progresses, you want him to figure out how to heal the disease, not just for mankind's sake, but for his sake. Smith is enough Tom Hanks in Castaway, Ahab in Moby Dick, and himself to make it work; and, I'm not animal lover, but the dog they cast as Sam is simply beautiful.
Several scenes throughout the movie are sure to become classic. You'll never look at mannequins, watching the Today show, or going to Blockbuster the same ever again. My personal favorite involves the quoting of one of the most quotable movies ever. Not knowing what to do, Neville walks into his living room where Shrek is playing and delivers both Shrek and Donkey's lines from one of the duo's famed squabbles in perfect unison in both timing and intonation before culminating with, "I like Shrek." Anyone who likes Smith or Shrek will delight in the moment.
The truth strength of the movie though comes in its finale. You see, apparently fans of the book are mad at how badly it was betrayed. They have a point to an extent, but here is an excerpt from that ending:
They all stood looking up at him with their white faces. He stared back. And suddenly he thought, I'm the abnormal one now. Normalcy was a majority concept, the standard of many and not the standard of just one man.The ending of the movie turns this relativistic conception of disease and culture on its head. I won't go into the details to save you the enjoyment, but I will say this: Turning a relativistic stronghold into a Christ allegory is brave story telling that you're either going to love or hate...and I loved it.
Abruptly that realization joined with what he saw on their faces -- awe, fear, shrinking horror -- and he knew that they were afraid of him. To them he was some terrible scourge they had never seen, a scourge even worse than the disease they had come to live with. He was an invisible specter who had left for evidence of his existence the bloodless bodies of their loved ones. And he understood what they felt and did not hate them. [...]
Robert Neville looked out over the new people of the earth. He knew he did not belong to them; he knew that, like the vampires, he was anathema and black terror to be destroyed. And, abruptly, the concept came, amusing to him even in his pain.
[...]Full circle, he thought [...]. Full circle. A new terror born in death, a new superstition entering the unassailable fortress of forever.
I am legend.