Susan argues that the film thrives on the sensuous connection with the audience through the arresting images and the immediacy of the experience as observed on the screen. The author traces the main stages of development of the sci-fi film in terms of the emergence of a situation that disturbs harmony, to the stages of disbelief, tragedy, threat, destruction, feelings of vulnerability, and the heroic antics of a lone actor who eventually designs some kind of remedy that prevails against the formidable foe.
The main features in Sontag’s analysis are manifest in the post-apocalyptic film I am Legend, which was directed by Francis Lawrence with Will Smith featuring as the military virologist Robert Neville, the main protagonist (Lawrence, 2007). In the film, Neville finds himself facing the odds of a horrific destruction wrought by a scientific experiment gone awry leading to a virulent strain of a virus that has depopulated nearly 95 percent of the world population. Neville has to put aside his own pain of losing his wife and child and struggle to save his own life and the lives of the few surviving humans by developing an antidote that would rescue the infected and the few survivors. The task is daunting and the odds are nearly insurmountable for the lone hero but he has to endeavor to contain the horror. The film represents the good and bad of science in the sense that it captures both its threat to humanity and its near limitless potential to provide solutions to the same threats.
Sontag argues that scientific films are mainly dominated by the theme of massive destruction (Sontag, 1966). The focus, she argues is the scale of destruction, which is usually captured on an enormous and shocking scale. Destruction is captured in grim details that involve the potency of powerful machinery, a determined destructive force, and great humanitarian suffering. Most of these films anticipate calamities and apocalyptic
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