- Alex Proyas
- Reviewed by
- Josť Ruiloba a.k.a. Morris
- Review date
- Monday, August 16, 2004
Itís Chicago, circa 2035, when technology has come as far as to create robots that serve humans in every imaginable daily task that might come to mind. Homicides Detective Del Spooner (Will Smith) has never liked or trusted robots, in part due to a traumatic accident in which a robot was involved. But he gets even more paranoid once robotsí inventor Dr. Alfred Lanning (James Cromwell) apparently commits suicide. He has another theory that involves murder though, and asks expert Susan Calvin (Bridget Moynahan) to help him even though neither she nor U.S. Robotics director Lawrence Robertson (Bruce Greenwood) believe in what heís saying.
I, Robot is loosely based on, or suggested by (as the credits show), Isaac Asimovís short story collection in which he imagines a world that has become almost dependent of robots. In that world there are three basic rules by which every robot exists: 1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm, 2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law, and 3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. These are not just plot devices to make for an exciting movie. Theyíre an essential part of the story, which would not make sense if they did not exist.
The movie is everything a summer flick should be: exciting, entertaining, intelligent and well done. Director Alex Proyas is able to take Asimovís ideas and translate them into a cinematic event that has everything going for it. The movie is always entertaining. It is also suspenseful, working as a futuristic whodunit with more thrills than chills. The action set-pieces are extremely well performed, with a highway robot attack that is breathtaking. And the visual look of the movie is stunning. Perhaps the technology shown in it might belong to a more distant future, but it all looks great.
It also helps that the special effects work in the movie is flawless. I didnít know if they would come up with a realistic-looking movie when almost every frame contained a special effect in the form of a robot (or several of them). But I always believed that what I was watching was actually in the scene with the actors. It is that good. I never thought of anything as just being a special effect. This movie breathes on its own, and thatís a grand achievement.
One minor complaint: I always hate in futuristic movies when the central or main machine is given a human form. In this case the machine is called VIKI and has a human-robotic look that aims to be photo-realistic. I hate that, hate it!
What makes of I, Robot a better-than-average popcorn flick though is that it has an undercurrent of though-provoking material that is deeply fascinating. The movie deals with such questions as when does a machine becomes an entity of its own? Can it grow a conscience? Where does a human stand next to the evolution of technology? Is it necessary? Can robots have free will? What would they do with it? Itís good and scary material. And the very last scene in the movie sums it all up, leaving more questions than answers.
Will Smith proves he can be a credible lead, for the movie mostly rests on his shoulders. He is equally good at action, comedy and drama, and the movie boasts just the right dose of everything without being too broad in any of them. Thatís a good combination and Smith is excellent at every turn. Moynahan, on the other hand, is suitable in her role, as is Greenwood.
ďWhen people were killed by other people.Ē
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