Written by Jeff Vintar and Akiva Goldsman
Directed by Alex Proyas
Running Time: 1:48
for intense stylized action,
and some brief partial nudity.
I, Robot was an entertaining film with some good action and humor, but a story that was a little on the weak side.
In Chicago in the year 2035, robots are used for everything. The top robotics company in the world, US Robotics, is about to launch a brand new version of their popular model, which will put a robot into every home. But one of the creators of robots, and the one who came up with the three robot rules, supposedly commits suicide at the company headquarters. Enter Detective Spooner, who has a prejudice against robots to begin with. He is the Detective who gets the case, and has to unravel the mystery of who killed Dr. Lanning and why. No one listens to Spooner when he says the robots are bad, but soon, they're going to wish they did.
I didn't have high expectations for I, Robot when I walked into the theater. The previews hadn't made it look all too interesting, although the later commercials had showcased the action side of the film more. I hadn't read the book the film was loosely based upon, so I can't say how true it was to the short stories in Isaac Asimov's I, Robot collection. So let's start with the action. There was a lot of good, solid action pieces throughout the film, all made more impressive by the fact that a lot of it was computer generated. Most of the scenes that involved the primary suspect, the robot Sonny, were CGI, although some of the close-ups appeared to be models. Throw in a few hundred extra robots that needed to go on a rampage, and you had the chance that it would all look very cheesy. But I thought it all looked pretty good, especially any time they interacted with human actors. There was on sequence where it was robot vs. robot that looked kind of funny, but otherwise, there was a lot of good action throughout.
The actors were also admirable considering they had to act against nothing for half the film. Will Smith was up to his usual tricks, cracking wise whenever possible. At times I felt like it took a movie that could have done well as a serious film, and moved it into a less serious, pulp comic kind of film, but in the end, I welcomed his humorous take on the character. Bridget Moynahan as the scientist that helps Smith's detective had little more to do than follow him around, but she looked good doing it. The character that had the most impact however, was the robot Sonny. You really started to feel for him, even if he was only a robot. The animators did a tremendous job giving him a heart and soul and by the end when he started to kick some ass, I was cheering for him more than I was for Will or Bridget.
The story is the part of the film I had the biggest problem with. Everything was very convenient and it moved very quickly. Now, I realize that this is a movie and you can't spend hours setting up a back story, but having robots go from easy going mechanical creatures to homicidal maniacs (even if they had good intentions), needed a bit more explanation than 'ghost in the machine.' I never really felt that the reasoning behind how they became evil was enough to warrant an entire film. Basically it all came down to, robots evolve. I also didn't like the reason Detective Spooner hated robots so much. I won't go into what those reasons were, since they are more or less surprise revelations in the film, but I just think he could have been given a more clear justification for not trusting robots. I will say that the story does take you down a path and then twists at the end that some may or may not see coming.
I loved the look of the film. Director Alex Proyas, who directed one of my all-time favorite films, The Crow, has a knack for creating a dark and creepy world. The Chicago of the future is run down in parts, but also holds massive buildings, expressways with automatic cars and strange parking garages, and robots that are seamlessly integrated into society. The whole tone of the movie was sad, leaving you wondering whether or not a society where robots play such an active role in everyday life, is worth it. The ending is uplifting, but the rest of the movie makes you think how necessary it all is.
Oh yes, and the Three Laws of Robots are:
Law One: A robot may not injure a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm, unless this would violate a higher order law.
Law Two: A robot must obey orders given it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with a higher order law.
Law Three: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with a higher order law.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I enjoyed I, Robot. I thought the story/reasonings could have been stronger and better explained, but the look of the film, combined with the action, humor and CGI made the movie entertaining.