Just got back from the showing. My thoughts
First and foremost, Will Smith MADE this movie. It might be the best performance of his career and I think the way he portrayed his character was spot on. I really felt for him, be it his interaction with the dog and the mannequins (the scene with Fred on the bridge might have been my favorite of the film) or the grief and despair he shows later on. I also think Will allowed for just the right amount of insanity in his character, showing that it WAS there and wanted to come out, but because of his work and personality, he was able to keep it restrained. In fact, as an apocalyptic character study the movie was terrific.
As a horror/action movie, it was great as well. The scene where Neville is going to save Sam in the building was one of the most intense scenes I've seen in a movie in a long time.
As an adaptation of one of my favorite books, it falls short. First, the situation is too different. I'm not complaining about it being set in New York, I was all for that change in fact. It gave a VERY eerie feel that I don't think Los Angeles or a suburban setting would have given. It's just the generic "infected" could have been made a little more unique, I think. I also wasn't too big of a fan of other survivors, but I understand the need of why it happened.
The ending was the only thing that disappointed on both fronts. First off, it wasn't the ending of the book which is, in my opinion, one of the most epic endings to a story ever written. It's the kind of ending that just resounds through you. However, I knew that ending wasn't going to make it to the screen, so I resigned myself too it long ago.
The problem being, the ending they did use was too conventional and Hollywood. I mean, I'm all for the phyrric victory, but I just couldn't get behind the survivors. It was too much like the ending of 28 Days Later and I wanted something else.
However, besides my complaints about the ending, it was terrific movie in the SPIRIT of the book. Hell, they even managed to work in Ben Cortman in a way (with the one dark stalker that was more intelligent than the rest). On it's own, it was just a good post-apocalyptic thriller. As an acting tour de force, Smith deserves at least some awards nominations. Overall, I was really impressed by a film that I thought was going to disappoint me horribly.