I Am Legend was actually pretty darn good, despite all-but abandoning the very core -- dare I say 'point' -- of the story. In its place they wedged a peculiar new type of 'Legend:' namely the Bob Marley album of the same name. Perplexing and stupid. Still it was pretty awesome despite this and the many MANY things I found to complain about. (Seriously, why would he hunt from a Mustang GT? How would he haul the carcass home?) Lots of funny little "future" tidbits like the Batman vs. Superman movie billboard in Times Square. Bottom line: even taking into account the major deviations from the much-loved source, I really liked it.
Sweeney Todd: I need to preface my review with this: as a rule, I dislike Broadway musicals on principle; that goes double for Hollywoodified Broadway musicals. That said, I couldn't have loved Sweeney Todd any more than I did. Simply put: the story is great, the film is visually great, Depp, Rickmann, and Bonham-Carter are great, many of the songs are great -- and, most awesomely, the quantities of blood are VERY great. I don't have much knowledge of the source material, so I can't vouch for its faithfulness (all I knew about the musical I learned from Jersey Girl) but I can say that it was very engaging, and very enjoyable. This is my surprise hit of the year. Oh: this time around Depp apparently decided to pick David Bowie for his character inspiration. What's his deal with rock stars? My biggest complaint with the film? The titular character is a barber who is very handy with a straight-razor, but throughout the film he bangs and scrapes his various razors on the ground and objects, throws them around, etc. As one who actually shaves with a straight-razor, I know that they're very sensitive, fragile things, and that a true master shaver would NEVER treat his instruments even remotely as badly as Todd does.
Alien vs Predator: Colonated Title: The first AvP was so ludicrously bad, both in performance and in critical/internet review, that the mere emergence of a sequel suggested to me that someone had come up with a brilliant-enough concept to sell the fickle studio heads on it and get it green-lit. I was wrong. From the look of things they got 5 different writers to come up with ingenious-yet-different concepts, then smooshed all 5 together into one script. And then removed the ingenious altogether. What was left was a mish-mash of potential heroes, all with hinted-at complicated back-stories and demons for each to overcome. None of these ever goes anywhere. This movie sucked all manner of ass, but not in an even remotely good way.
Juno: I really, really, liked this movie. It has been touted as "this year's Little Miss Sunshine," and I have to say the comparison is somewhat apt. If I had to describe it, I'd say it's like Knocked Up with all of the Superbad sucked out of it. You know, in a good way. With characters out of a funnier, makes-sensier version of Garden State. A really refreshing and interesting look at teenage pregnancy and how it sometimes can go "right."
A coworker asked me the other day if the film I've been calling "Will Smiff Is Legend" is based on something else. I explained that it was a book, which then spawned two different movie adaptations: "The Last Man on Earth" and "The Omega Man." This new version has an interesting pedigree, in that it was once going to be an Arnold Schwarzeneggar remake of "The Omega Man" until that fell through, and ALSO once an "I Am Legend" until THAT fell through as well. Then they got some of the people involved with both to kind of work together on this final version incorporating the good bits from each.
I'm not quite sure what to make of "Will Smiff Is Legend." On the one hand, all the shots I've seen of it look fantastic and I know Will is a great actor who -- provided the script calls for it -- will be able to pull off the 'grizzled, lonely, and angry' that encompasses the story. On the other hand, though, I keep picturing him with a sideways gun saying "aww HELL no" while bustin' caps into zompires from his motorcycle in slow motion. Call me equal parts excited and reluctant. (Also, is it even going to HAVE zompires? Remember in Jonathan Coulton's fantastic song RE: Your Brains, how the guy's zombified coworkers try to plead with him to come out because all they want to do is eat him? That's straight out of "I Am Legend," except the zombies in question were kind of a halfway-point between zombie and vampire; they rise from the grave and eat brains, but can be staked through the heart to kill them. Plus they're smart.)
On the subject of prior film adaptations, I highly, HIGHLY recommend the 1964 Vincent Price version entitled "The Last Man on Earth." It's a truly great film that I think does a good job of capturing the mood of the book while adding a few new things as well. The new ending they came up with is probably one of my favorite endings of all time, which leads me to believe "Will Smiff Is Legend" will not use it ;) On the plus side, the film is now in the Public Domain, meaning you can download it off the internet with impunity. If instantaneous blocky streaming flash video is your thing it can be found here on Google Video. If nicer quality -- and therefore a longer, more complicated download process -- is more your thing, it can be found here on The Pirate Bay without any fear of legal repercussions because this film was allowed to fall out of copyright like copyright law intended. Yay for properly functioning copyright law.