At first the movie adaptation of I Am Legend could be interpreted as a lame plot shadow of the book, until you realize that in the post-apocalyptic movies the action almost always centers around heroic characters searching for safety, or even a mythical promised land, and before they get there, they almost always have to meet an eccentric, borderline crazy hermit who gives them an important piece of information or item, helps them on their way, and then gets killed. The young woman and boy were the typical hero characters, and Will Smith was a minor supporting character, but for once, we got to see his story instead of theirs. And it turned out that his story mostly involved waiting around for something to happen. -Unwinder
JET73L applauds you. Thank you for un-ruining this movie for me. ("They Are Legend" is now a decent, even likeable counterpart to the book, rather than a bad remake.)
If you read the original novel, then you find out that the title refers to the fact that the vampiric creatures had become a sentient race of their own and told stories of this lone human who killed them and wandered the day light, thus Will Smith's character had become a legend to them.
At first, I was angry about the fact that the original, book-based, ending was the controversial one, but then I realized, they wiped out humanity. They didn't deserve to live, and making peace with them would be like making peace with cancer, AI Ds, or bullets, that is to say, disgusting.
I think I'm gonna have to disagree with you on a fundamental level there on the "they shouldn't be forgiven" front. However, to me, both endings, the original ending and the movie ending, are made much more meaningful by the fact that both are equally possible—at the end of the movie Will Smith is placed at a crossroads. He could try to make peace, or he could continue to fail to realize that his enemies are human and blow himself and a room full of them to hell. Sadly, the answer to which is more likely probably isn't the former. (Note that I haven't read the book so I don't know if the minute or two of falling action after he blew himself up was possible within the book's universe, but I'm willing to chalk that up to the end being what he was hoping would happen since he didn't live to see it).
I think you missed something. The whole "convergence of butterflies" sequence is a restoration of the man's faith. He's been living in a state of complete despair, not believing there's any reason for him to be doing his work anymore. Then not only do these two healthy human beings show up, but the coincidences start stacking. And he sees in a moment that mankind was MEANT to survive in the good old-fashioned form; the old "There Is a God After All" recognition. It makes so much sense when you're looking at it from that angle. And because I'm narrow-minded, I like it better.
Right on the trolley with that statement, the person above who didn't believe them to be forgiven is completely missing the whole point of the story. They are now the dominant species on the planet and have regained some semblance of their own humanity back, even showing that they are honour-bound as they don't attack Neville when he returns his prisoner which harkens back to the original novel. The whole point of the novel was that Neville realised that the Vampires were afraid of him and of the daylight hours because they knew that it'd bring the monster stalking them. Neville is and always was, the true monster of the story.
That makes the scene where he finds the "vampires" in the house very fitting; he looks terrified when seeing them, but the creatures are all in a circle, hiding in the dark, looking down. To them, he is a scary monster, and they may be standing like that in fear.
I always assumed they were sleeping (it was daytime, after all); their breathing was somewhat slower and steadier, and another one of them had no problem chasing Neville out of the building and into the fatal sunlight.
This troper assumed they were all clustered around the deer's headless carcass, savoring the scent of whatever traces of blood were left in it after they'd drained it dry.
Neville has to have his own methods for obtaining gasoline and electricity, but ordinary plumbing still works fine 3 years after the collapse of civilization.
When you look deeply at it, I Am Legend is the story of a man who has failed at many things, and his descent to insanity. And that makes it all the more sadder...
Fridge Horror: In the movie, Neville's wife is nearly stopped at the checkpoint because the eye-scanner gave a false positive when it checked her for infection. How many other perfectly-healthy people were turned away for the same reason, and needlessly left trapped in the quarantine zone, if false positives are so common that we see one happen out of just seven people scanned in that scene?