I, Robot (2004) Poster


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Surprisingly Good!
Mstrom4221 July 2004
When I was growing up, one of my favourite authors was Isaac Asimov. I loved his books and his ideas about robots. The man was a genius in the way he wrote, he invented the three laws of Robotics, as the very beginning of the movie tells us, they are: 1) A robot can never harm a human. 2) A robot must obey all human orders unless it conflicts with the first law. 3) A robot must protect itself unless it conflicts with the first two laws.

Because of this and because of the fact that I knew Will Smith was the leading actor in this movie I went into this movie with lowered expectations. I expected to see a corny movie full of explosions and killer robots.

I did get that, or at least the explosions part, but imagine my surprise when the movie ended up exceeding my expectations and more. Even though during the ending credits it says that the movie was suggested by the books by Isaac Asimov most of the movie seemed to play quite well with Isaac Asimov's ideas about robots. The movie played with concepts that Isaac Asimov played with, if the three laws can be made, they can be broken. And it was an Asimov-ish "whodunit" as well.

Will Smith managed to pull off a stunning performance as "Del Spooner", a Chicago detective that is suspicious of robots and is against technology. His acting is much more like his acting in "Enemy of the State" than his performances in his other two Science Fiction flicks, "Independence Day" and "Men in Black". He is a believable character, one that you end up sympathising with as you learn why, exactly, he hates robots so much.

A highly critiqued point usually comes from the fans of the book in that Bridget Moynahan plays Susan Calvin. It is true that Moynahan as Calvin is much younger than the Isaac Asimov version, but beyond that I found her to be a pleasant surprise as well. She plays her persona very well, delivering a wooden, robot-like performance. She is obvious in the fact that she likes robots much more than humans, and her dislike of Spooner is amusing. Over the course of the movie she thaws a little, but not an incredible lot. I find her to be a believable character.

The pure stroke of genius in this movie is the robot, Sonny, who at first reminds one of Data from Star Trek. His character evolves over the course of the story, and Alex Proyas does a good job at keeping us guessing at whether the emotional robot is a "good guy" or not.

This movie, which I've now seen twice, has been raked over the coals so to speak in the realm of artistic licence, but I felt that Isaac Asimov, if he were here, would have been rather pleased with this movie. The only two points of conflict, perhaps, would be the amount of violence against actual robots in the story (he was never that violent in his short stories/books) and the very typical Hollywood blow'emup climax, which, yes, smacked heavily of Terminator for a while there. The ending, I felt, repaired and wrapped up nicely, making up for whatever excessive action went on before it.

Two notes about the cinematography in this movie, first of all, the Matrix scene was not necessary. A character was being chased and did a Trinity pause in mid-air pose, which pulled me out of the movie for a couple seconds. Luckily it wasn't too hard to get back into the movie. Second note was something that I felt was very innovative on the part of Alex Proyas, which was the "camera moving with moving object" shots. I noticed at least three of them in the movie. Very nice film work there. I'm sure it will get horribly overdone in the next few years, but for now it is nice. The CGI also gets honourable mention for making the robots meld so well with their surroundings. Finally CGI has reached a point where they don't seem fake, even for a moment.

In regards to nudity in the movie... I've read a couple of reviews which notice the Moynahan nude in fogged up shower scene, and forget to notice the Will Smith completely nude with no fog shower scene. I must say, as a female viewer it is nice to get the generous end of the stick when it comes to seeing something as, dare I say appealing? as Will Smith's very nicely developed body.

Lastly and in a point that has nothing to do with the movie and more to do with questions brought up by it-- It took until a day later and thinking about the movie some more that I realized that "I, Robot" was also very socially different. As in two of the main characters, including the hero are black males, one woman, and one (male) robot. I didn't find this odd at all in watching it, perhaps because Will Smith is such a recognisable character, but after thinking about it, I felt that this is a very positive sign. It shows, to me, that society is changing. I feel that I wouldn't have been able to see that, even 10-15 years ago and thought nothing of it. I've noticed this before though... that the most gender/social equal views seem to come from science fiction in our media... it is interesting.

Now, of course the movie does bring up some ethical questions like if it's all right to make a servant/slave class out of robots, etc., but all in all I really liked this movie. Any movie that makes you think is a good movie, any movie that gives you fun, drama, action, mystery, and makes you think is a great movie. Thank goodness I, Robot is all of the above.
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Excellent film
pawsplay21 July 2004
The maker of a film adaptation has three choices. First, he can try to translate the original medium as faithfully as possible, striving as much as possible to preserve the spirit and content of the original while re-imagining the story as a film. Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings films exemplify this approach. Second, he could instead try to capture the essence of the original, while largely abandoning the particulars of the original, as in the intelligently satirical but hard-hearted film version of Starship Troopers. Third, he can try to do something original with the material, drawing inspiration from the written story, but creating a unique film with a unique vision. I, Robot is more the the third than the first or second. While little remains of Asimov's stories in this killer robot metropolitan fantasy, the film is informed by, and offers no disrespect, to the good Doctor's creations.

Will Smith plays a Jack Slater-styled maverick cop. If it's old, it's good.

He wears vintage converse, listens to Stevie Wonder, and apparently regards sweet potato pie as a food group. Will Smith's acting is a naturalistic shuffle, a Columbo-like pastiche of mumbling, sarcasm, and unexpected outbursts of charisma and off-balancing interrogation techniques. He delivers his one-liners with unnecessary seriousness. While in Men in Black, he aimed for the ballparks with his power-swinging action-comedy style, here his conscientious style gets in the way, suggesting a character who stands in front of the mirror practicing his zingers like a Tuesday night comic. It's not entirely Smith's fault, as the movie itself can't seem to decide if he's standing in for Bogart or Schwarzenegger, or if the character had a life of his own before the film starts rolling. His performance is intelligent, marred by occasional "Gotcha, suckaz!" moments that remind us that all films made in Hollywood are made in Hollywood.

His opposite, Bridget Moynahan, fits her role more surely. She's an ice queen in the classic action movie tradition, a stiff-necked, self-important, lonely woman who has been absorbed by her work so completely she remains a teenager at heart, awkward, vulnerable, and searching for the approval of others. Moynahan's bug-eyed discomfort and clipped, TV-sarcastic delivery are those of the quintessential comedy sidekick. Nonetheless, in rare moments, she invests the character's personal revelations with warmth, doubt, and a glow of determination and moral purpose. While Smith vacillates between supercop and Bogie, Moynahan seems to have found a happy medium between the Saturday matinée and the midnight marathon, a mixture of fun and humanity with a carriage of seriousness appropriate to what is essentially a monster movie.

The robot, Sonny, is a character himself, a curious, frightened creature that seems capable of anything. Could Sonny be the murderer? We hope not, and yet, we see the grim possibility that a machine might consider itself more than a human being. We understand Sonny's drive to live and grow. As human beings, we know what lengths we would go to to ensure our survival, whatever the moral charges facing us.

A top scientist has been murdered, and there are no human suspects, so the powerful US Robotics corporation (no relation to the modem manufacturers) convinces the powers-that-be to consider his unexpected death a suicide. Spooner (Will Smith) alone searches for the truth of the matter, fueled by hatred for robots and a personal debt to the dead scientist. Dr. Calvin (Moynahan) feels his intrusive investigation is unnecessary, although new pieces of evidence appear that gradually shake her confidence. Robots are programmed by the Three Laws to serve humanity, but Spooner is convinced one of the new NS-5 units, a unique prototype, is the murderer. As Spooner gets deeper to the heart of the mystery, the story explodes with robotic violence. Like all good mysteries, the real question is not "Whodunnit?" but "Why?" The heroes do some things for the wrong reasons, and the villains do some things for the right, rational reasons. Although I, Robot hardly pauses for introspection, it does asks us, "What makes a human being superior to a machine?" There are twists and surprises, although in the end, the movie plays out in the only way it can, a band of brave heroes trying to throw the ring into Mt. Doom while the armies of evil march. And yet, the movie leaves us wanting more. What is the future of humanity? How will we control our machines, and how will we prevent the machines from becoming our masters?

While not as ambitious as A.I., it is more successful, and while not as intelligent as Robocop, it is better played. While the movie does suffer from inconsistencies in mood and philosophy, such hiccups are secondary to the emotionality and drive of the film, its fury of thought as well as action. In moments, I, Robot is a terrifying vision of the future. Too few science-fiction movies manage to scare us with the power of technology, but future shock is vital to the science-fiction story. Modern science-fiction truly began with the detonation at White Sands. The Atomic Age has given way to the Digital Age, but we still have not solved the problem of how to wrest the power of technology from the creatures of the id.
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Should not have taken any credit from Asimov
bismuthine23 February 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This was so disappointing. I thought the movie was truly inspired from Asimov's short stories... quite the opposite, actually. As other users have pointed out, this is a disgrace to Asimov master piece. The ending is so predictable and irrelevant. Beside, many would argue that such a scenario would have been examined by robot engineer. Nothing new with the trivial motto 'mankind is the worst danger for its own security'. The book was so much more subtle in the psychology of the robot and their interaction to human being. Sigh deeply my friend and don't waste your time if you are a real SF aficionado.

Another point, this movie will age very very badly if one judges by the costumes only. Already, completely out of fashion!

Well, of course it was not a complete fiasco. 5 stars for the usual nicely oiled Hollywood machine. Consider reading the book and evolving toward real SF literature and Cinema (even beyond Asimov).
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A clichéd cop thriller crossed with sci-fi but it is noisy, enjoyable fun - all a summer action film should be
bob the moo23 August 2004
It is the year 2035 and the world has forgotten the lessons we learnt in the 20th Century from films like Bladerunner and Terminator. Robots are the new must have accessory, carrying out menial tasks for households and boosting profits for businesses that have workforces not requiring payment. While this is now the norm, Officer Del Spooner refuses to move with the times and, due to an incident in his past refuses to accept the robots as anything approaching human. When an old friend, Dr Lanning – head of the robotics company, is found dead everyone suspects suicide but Spooner suspects a robot that flees the crime scene. Despite the robotics company lawyering up, Spooner continues his investigations and, several more malfunctions later, he begins to uncover a much bigger problem with the robots.

When the film opens with a flashback scene that cuts to a bitter, old-fashioned cop who dresses like Shaft and don't take no rubbish from his weary captain I immediately started to worry that this would simply be a clichéd cop thriller in fancy clothes and, in some ways, that is what it was. But it is also good fun and, along with Spiderman 2, stands out as one of the best of this years generally disappointing crop of blockbusters. The plot is interesting enough to keep the film going and, although it goes just where you will expect it to if you've seen Terminator (or had any involvement in popular culture) it builds gradually with an intriguing investigation leading to a very impressive climax. The set pieces are well directed and are mixed well with the drama and the film delivers just what I had come expecting – fun, excitement, effects and an involving story.

Of course this is not to ignore the fact that the film has its weak points. The worn 'tough cop' clichés are heavy on the ground and show a script that hasn't put as much effort into its characters as it really should have – this is also seen in Calvin, who's background with Lanning is hinted at but never followed though. The film also hints at a very intelligent story around the robots but again it never totally follows through in as much detail as it could have done. The structure of the society is not clear – if robots have taken many jobs how can everyone afford a robot? Spooner lives in a poor, overcrowded area with graffiti on the walls but yet everyone owns a robot. While I accept that the film couldn't go into the whole universe behind the scenario, it could have shown us an underclass just as easily as it showed us what I suspect were the middle classes. Likewise the final shot of the film implies that there is more to the robot-ethics of the story but mostly this is put to the side in favour of running and shooting. But these are minor complaints when you accept that this is not art – it is a blockbuster and, in this way, it succeeds and is an enjoyable film.

Matching the lazily written character that he is given, Smith plays it like Shaft. He eats pie and takes lots of sugar (but yet has a superb body – can't wait for that part of the future!), makes wisecracks and sneers a lot.

He tries to bring something individual out in Spooner but mostly he settles for playing along with the clichés and delivers a familiar performance but one that fits well with the aims of the film. Moynnahan is a bit dry but actually works better than the usual screaming love interest that we get served with – thankfully the film resists the temptation to impose a romance on us. Tudyk looks the part and does a very good 'HAL' voice but he is constrained by his character and can only work within that – but he works it well enough. Greenwood is a good part, Cromwell's familiarity helps us care for a character who has died before the film even starts, McBride is the gruff, weary captain but basically the film is Smith's and his Shaft is quite fun. Outside of the real things, the effects are great – they look real and match the design of the future which is at the other end of the scale from the usual grim future that we all suspect will be nearer the truth! Alex Proyas may not be a great master of the narrative but he does OK here while also indulging his first love – the visual effects and style.

Overall this is an enjoyable summer blockbuster and stands out in the crowd of average sequels and trashy attempts at blockbusters that have crawled in and out of our cinemas this year. Yes, it's full of the usual tough cop genre clichés and the sci-fi element doesn't get as interesting or morally complex as it should have done but this is an action movie and I found it to do all the things I needed to do to entertain me – set pieces, interesting story, fun, effects that are actually special and a film that builds to a satisfying (if overblown) conclusion. In the cold light of day it is an imperfect film but it is easily one of the better blockbusters of 2004.
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Good mix of action and philosophy
Danny_G1331 August 2004
Like the Matrix and many other major movies, I, Robot has its foundations in philosophy, in its case the question of epistemology(The study of knowledge itself and computers being self-aware).

Will Smith is Spooner, a cop with an apparent attitude problem. Set in the future, I Robot sees Spooner embarking on a puzzling case of suicide where he believes it was actually murder. By a robot.

In this future society (With more than a homage to Blade Runner) robots are used as slaves of humans in all facets of life. They have 3 rules of conduct hard coded into them which essentially state they cannot harm humans. So the postulation by Spooner that a robot killed a man after a history where no robot had ever committed so much as a mugging presents a big problem to both his peers and his boss.

Suffice to say the story's plot thickens and a number of twists and turns emerge before the truth is revealed.

Will Smith is an absolute surprise here. Having previously been a light-hearted comedy actor he puts in a truly excellent and believable shift as a wise-cracking cop with a dark past.

However, the real star is the special effects and visual trickery. Impossible but ingenious camerawork and some jawdropping animation really make I, Robot feel truly alive and utterly believable, while never being dull for a second.

It arguably doesn't delve too deep into its philosophical undertones, but it doesn't really need to. It's a traditional Hollywood blockbuster action flick but it unquestionably has a brain and is a clear cut above the likes of Armageddon et al.

Very enjoyable.
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If you've read the book, the movie will disappoint
jsgmovie11 August 2011
I read 'I,Robot' 1950), by Isaac Asimov, before watching the movie. That was a mistake. I had the naive notion that identical titles means at least similar story lines. How wrong I was. Well, to be fair, there were robots in both. The movie plays like someone dropped a the scripts from Dirty Harry, Attack of the Zombies, and Idiocracy into a blender and hit puree. You've got a rogue, marginally unstable cop, an endless army of identical enemies, and a future that does not looks so bright. Sure, the CG and special effects are good but beyond that there's not much substance. Stick with the book. Unlike the movie, it has a message that will last.
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Rock'em Sock'em Robo-fun
Dean Kish15 July 2004
Director Alex Proyas, helmer of such cult favorites as 'Dark City' and 'The Crow', steps into the Hollywood limelight with his first attempt at a mainstream Hollywood blockbuster.

'I, Robot' chronicles the life of Detective Del Spooner (Will Smith) who has a techno-phobic view of the world's newest appliance, a life-like robot created by the world's leading technology giant US Robotics. A link in Spooner's past is linked to his phobia of the automaton movement sweeping the nation. According to US Robotics, there will be eventually 1 robot to every 5 humans.

Spooner is called to the offices of US Robotics when a leading scientist (James Cromwell), with a secret link to Spooner, has apparently committed suicide. His death seems to have mysterious circumstances which could link to a robot. With man's complete trust in the new robot technology, it seems too ludicrous to every one except Spooner.

As the mystery deepens, Spooner unravels the very fabric of the robotic giant, locks horns with CEO Lawrence Robertson (Bruce Greenwood) and learns more about his automated enemy with the aid of scientist Dr. Susan Calvin (Bridget Moynahan). Through the course of these events he may learn more than he could ever imagine.

It is hard to defend a film like 'I, Robot' but I am going to try. For sci-fi purists, Isaac Asimov's legendary work about the robot and how he will intricate into our society has filled the minds of readers for over 50 years. But the similarities between the film presented here and his work are few and far between. Kind of like last week's release of Jerry Bruckheimer's 'King Arthur'. Both films take sacred subject matter and re-invent it with a new twist. I would have to say that 'I. Robot' is better in a lot ways.

At the core of 'I, Robot' beats the soul of Asimov as his 3 laws regarding robots are sacredly left intact and the film does abide by them. Also a lot of the characters have similar names to the people in the text. It is almost like taking Star Trek's 'prime directive' and some of the now classic characters and setting them in a new idea of the future. The core is left intact but in some ways it has been updated and refreshed.

The story, special effects and extremely zealous direction, however, all seem to be brought forth by the collaborators who cobbled this film together. There are influences of 'Robocop', 'Short Circuit', 'Blade Runner' and even the classic comic-book series 'Magnus: Robot Fighter'. Each of these robot influences echo back to what makes 'I Robot' so intriguing, a joy to watch and memorable.

Sure the story does have a lot of sci-fi influences and clichés aside from robot films including 'Star Wars' and 'Planet of the Apes' but don't these benchmark sci-fi films influence everything coming down the turnpike these days. It even has the classic sci-fi cliché of the social outcast claiming there is an invasion coming except no one believes him. But that is not what should bring us into the film.

You really need to give credit to director Alex Proyas because it is his magic as a filmmaker that holds this film together. He knows where to play it straight and where to let his lead actor bring on the charm. Also you really have to admire the man's technical ability. His brilliant inter-laying of robots into the photography is astounding. Proyas is an A-list director in the making and 'I, Robot' shows that he can deliver a big Hollywood film.

I also give credit to Will Smith who starts out being very unapproachable with his character but as the film goes we really become fond of his hero. Smith's Spooner does have a lot of his previous sci-fi heroes inter-laced into Spooner but it comes off as more of a homecoming than an annoyance. In some ways I think Proyas had something to do with that especially in the chase down scene towards the beginning of the film. It almost felt like 'Men in Black' again.

As for Smith's co-stars, Cromwell's Lanning is a throwaway character used mainly for effect, Moynahan is timid and sometimes robot-like but it is a sturdy performance and Greenwood is menacing and a good match to face off against the rebellious Smith.

The reason I was so fond of 'I, Robot' is because for once it was a summer film that didn't apologize for trying to be entertaining. The special effects, the performances and the direction are all what people want to see in the summer and this film is loads and loads of fun. It is a great giant popcorn film with a light layering of message.

My only small problem with this film was that it is supposed to be set in Chicago in 2035. I didn't buy it but if it was 2135, then maybe.

Sure the film doesn't pave new ground but why does every film have to. It is pure summer fun and what is wrong with that.

If you want Asimov and sci-fi purism then you can always read the novels. Stop apologizing and most of all stop belly-aching, just give the film a chance. If you like science fiction films and want to be remembered how much fun they used to be then this picture is the perfect ticket for you. So Says the Soothsayer.
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*SPOILER* Just another bad cop movie...
pearljammer14 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
When it comes to worn out cop dramas, I Robot fits the bill. Not only was the acting sub-par, the plot was boring and completely predictable. This does, however, fit the typical cop drama formula. All the elements were there: 1. Rogue cop has to solve fallen friends suspicious death. 2. Rogue cop is restrained by unyielding, by-the-book police captain. 3. Rogue cop loses job while pursuing case yet continues investigation. 4. Rogue cop teams up with civilian. 5. Rogue cop and civilian follow ambiguous (at best) clues which lead to epic battle. 6. While battling hundreds of foes, Rogue cop has time for corny one-liners. 7. Rogue cop and civilian save world. Take this formula, add plenty of over the top special effects and some absurd plot twists, and you've got I Robot.
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A travesty!!
stuffkikker7 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
What on earth has this movie to do with Isaac Asimov? I've read some of his stuff, but other than his three robot laws, I see no similarities between his work and this 115 minute commercial. Acting is poor, no better than in your average TV show, the dialogues are crap, either there to remind of us the stereotypical 'cop with a grudge' Smith is performing (you might forget that when he keeps talking about his vintage 2004 shoes)) or... I actually don't know why there is dialogue at all really.

Worse is: this movie revolves around a plot that is broken at the level of it's foundation. This plot is build on a 'logic' (which "you can't deny") that is simply false. Because (spoiler ahead) the whole idea is that this robots turn society into a fascist state to protect human kind from itself in order to uphold the first law which is 'not to allow harm to happen to human beings'. Yet: (a) they harm tons of human beings in the process of their revolution (and the law specifically states individual human beings, not human kind at large, so where did they get this utilitarian notion that it's OK to harm a whole bunch to protect a slightly bigger bunch?) and (b) harm comes not only through physical injury; it also comes through psychological injury, and massive oppression and containment does just this (which is why people rebelled against it then, and always will). This is well-known of course, we need the freedom to express ourselves and explore our social environments, we need a freedom to interact with- and challenge the world around us: it is in our human nature! This has nothing to do with the romantic babbling of free will that is being used in the movie; this is a matter of human psychology, and if the robot superbrain would have actually studied some of the many documents on psychology there already were in vintage year 2004 she would have come to this conclusion herself. Or hey, why not send in someone with understanding of human society and behavior to have a chat with this robot brain (which would have no doubt been open to such audience), or was the entire world suddenly comprised of tinheads like mr. Smith here who rather brings his point across using bullets?

Asimov took care of building a philosophical foundation for his works, have the dialogues bring out the mature personalities of his characters, have social and political developments actually make sense in a broader scheme... none of this can be found in the movie. Frankly, I find it a disgrace to see his name attached to a movie made by folks who I doubt even read any of his work.

If you're looking for a cheap action movie, this one fits the bill. If you're looking for thought-through science fiction, spare yourself this travesty. If the makers had spend as much time on the story (and it's underlying philosophy) as they did on product placement, it might have... well.. actually, no, I don't see how these folks could have ever made something out of this.
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Rates with Sam Taylor for "Worst Credit Line of All Time"
Rick Sjogren24 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
First off, let me say that it is an OK flick with excellent production design, reasonable acting, big action scenes, excellent CGI from Weta Digital, etc. But, oh!, the screenplay.

Fair dinkum, Isaac Asimov must be spinning in his grave so fast, you could use him to power a small city. The screenplay is laughable and is everything that Isaac Asimov's writing is not. It is clichéd to the point of ludicrousness (maverick cop with bad attitude that no-one believes? Again?). Stupid to the point of being unintentionally funny (the writers should have checked out the "Galactic Overlord's 100 mistakes to avoid" website to remove the more risible plot devices).

Unintelligent, (well, mostly unintelligent). The one time they strayed from attempting to rewrite one of the I. Robot short stories (such as 'Little Lost Robot'), they did OK. The scene where Will Smith describes his main motivation brings up a number of interesting philosophical questions. But this exception only serves to illustrate how much better the screenplay could have been.

And it has corny dialogue. Cheesy is another word that comes to mind.

The screenplay also completely misrepresents the I, Robot books. Susan Calvin is a brilliant, but cold person. With a wit like a scalpel and the sort of psychiatric knowledge to intimidate others. Not the sort of emotion riddled half-wit as she is portrayed here. The three laws are built into the substructure of the brain. To violate the first law ALWAYS causes the robot to "seize up", they can not be subverted just by downloading a new set of instructions. The stories are meant to get away from this "dull hundred-times-old tale" where "Robots were created and destroyed their creator" (both quotes taken Isaac Asimov's introduction to "The Rest of the Robots"). But the movie does just that. The robots are not supposed to be terrifying. But in the movie, they become a sort of terrifying monster, part Terminator and part soldier-ant colony.

I'm looking forward to the "Director's cut" version, where they remove all mention of Isaac Asimov and change the names of all of the Asimovian characters to non-Asimovian ones. They can keep the Three Laws. After all, they are so common as to be nearly ubiquitous. Then, and only then, would I consider it worth the overall rating that this movie has.

Now, I'm going to read my copy of 'I, Robot' to get the awful taste of this appalling travesty out of my mouth.
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Choose another title guys.
dawn stanney15 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I really can't begin to judge this as a film in it's own right because the whole watching experience was spoiled by thoughts of Asimov turning in his grave. Anyone familiar with the book will know that a film based exactly on the book (itself a collection of short stories)would never have worked and it is not his I take issue with. But the whole spirit of Asimov's robots is ruined. Most of his robot stories involve in some way circumventing the Laws of Robotics to make robots act in a way that seems to contradict the laws but, in fact, doesn't. They're logic puzzles basically, typical of Asimov. The I, Robot film shows no regard to the Laws having the robots not appearing to break them but actually doing so. The justification to this is that the robots have taken it upon themselves to make the decision that humanity should be prioritized over individuals.

Now Asimov fans will recognize this logic (Although not from I, Robot). It is of course Zeroth Law, the brainchild of Giskard, who upon discovering it was forced to permanently shut himself down (robot, obviously)because it so badly contradicted everything he had been built to follow. The only observer to the revelation of Zeroth Law being R Daneel Olivaw (the R standing for robot) who managed to incorporate that belief into his existing laws and over many centuries started making small, yet significant, mostly behind the scenes, changes. This is all shown in the Robots and Empire and The Foundation books. So you may wonder why I have issues with I, Robot the film when, OK it may not all be in the book of the same name, but its all there in Asimov somewhere. I'll tell you why. Giskard and R Daneel were the greatest, most advanced robots ever. Zeroth Law destroyed one of them and the other felt only able to implement it over great amount of time with the least interference and with the greatest respect to the other laws. Contrast this to the film. And don't even get me started on Susan Calvin.

So I suppose my point is, it might be a perfectly good film, but don't pretend it's I, Robot, and don't pretend it's Asimov.
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Could have been the next "Blade Runner"
Superunknovvn10 August 2004
Warning: Spoilers
"I, Robot" was this year's most entertaining Blockbuster: a lot of action, witty dialog and a fine plot. In fact, I thought the plot was so good that it was a waste to turn this project into a Will Smith vehicle. Not that he ruined the movie or anything but his funnyman performance - and the witty dialog - just kept the story from getting deep. So many other recent Blockbusters were unnecessarily lofty (*cough*SPIDER-MAN2*cough*MATRIX2&3*cough*cough*) and could have used some irony. With "I, Robot", however, it would have been a great idea to go for a more philosophical approach. The direction is very spectacular and fast paced, which isn't a bad thing, but it doesn't help to create an intriguing atmosphere, either. The special effects look great for the most parts, except when they are used to create landscapes. Sometimes a location looks like it was taken directly out of a video game. Anyway, "I, Robot" is a fantastic way to spend 90 minutes, but it's no masterpiece and won't be remembered among classics who deal with similar topics ("Blade Runner", "The Terminator", "The Matrix 1"). Pity. The potential was there.
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STUPID Frankenstein
vhilden6 January 2008
For any fan of Isaac Asimov, this film is a total fraud.

Dr. Asimov went to great lengths to explain his motivation for writing his robot stories in the introduction to "The Rest of the Robots", an anthology published in 1968. In Dr. Asimov's words, "... there seemed only one change to be rung on this plot -- Robots were created and destroyed their creator; ... I quickly grew tired of this dull hundred-times-old tale. As a person interested in science, I resented the purely Faustian interpretation of science".

The film is totally at odds with the philosophy Dr. Asimov defended, and totally different from all the robot stories he wrote. Only a few names and the "three laws of robotics" were copied, but the central point in all his stories, that a robot could never be made to violate the three laws, was not respected. The Asimov robot stories are fun because they try to find situations were there is enough contradiction in those laws to create interesting situations.

"I, Robot", the movie, is just one more remake of that old, old, old story Isaac Asimov hated so much, it's Frankenstein again. If you insist on seeing that same story again, better get Mel Brooks' version, it's funnier.

Let's close with Asimov: "Never, never, was one of my robots to turn stupidly on his creator for no purpose but to demonstrate, for one more weary time, the crime and punishment of Faust".
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A brilliant movie
scarlet_carsons_x1 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
When I saw the trailer for 'I, Robot', I knew I was going to like it. And that is not because I am a huge Will Smith fan (the trailer does not show the shower scene, nor do I particularly want to see him in the shower), or because I am an Asimov fan (I read the books afterwards). It was just very simply because I liked the idea of a robot committing a murder, because its a bit different to the usual summer action films of swords/guns/kill/maim.

Once in there the film started (well, my friend spilt her nachos with cheese sauce everywhere during the trailers and we spent about five minutes clearing it up, but luckily we did not miss any of the actual movie) and I found the beginning very attention-grabbing. Then suddenly you are catapulted into Will Smith's bedroom and this Stevie Wonder music starts playing, and then you see that Will Smith's character dresses like Shaft but with Converse. I do not think that this movie is a two-hour converse commercial. It is just a way to point out that Spooner is a technophobe. The scene with the woman pointing out that Spooner is an *ass***** cracked me up, as did the look on Spooner's face when she said it, so the movie was so far so good. I liked Spooner's character already. When Spooner heads to USR, everyone in the cinema kind of breathed a longing sigh when they saw that lovely Audi. I don't think anyone took their eyes off it until they put it into the car park. And then everyone went 'ugh' when they saw Lanning's blood on the floor.

As the movie progressed I liked it more and more, especially when the character Sonny was introduced. Sonny has to be the best CGI character I've ever seen, and he is ironically the movie's best way of expressing emotion. One of the only things I didn't get was why Spooner didn't notice that Sonny has these bright blue eyes and the others don't - is the guy a homicide detective or not? But that can be overlooked.

The last action scene where Spooner has to destroy VIKI was breathtaking, and I found the ending one of the best a movie has ever had...I mean, it was just so sweet the way Sonny's dream came true.

So, I, Robot - I would very highly recommend it. Its my favourite movie (and my brother's), and you should see it just for the character of Sonny alone, especially if you are an action/sci-fi/mystery junkie. Enjoy!

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Great Special Effects, Looked Real And A Good Story Overall.
IndianaFord2 January 2005
I thought the concept of the storyline was good, as it could be conceived as realistic. Given the ever increasing advances in modern technology, one can, indeed, conceive the possibility of this kind of future occurrence.

I did not really see any flaws in this movie or in the actor's character but the philosophical aspect of the movie questions at what point does artificial intelligence cease to be artificial and true consciousness arise? Anyhow, I did like the A.I. in this movie and would definitely recommend, especially if you like Will Smith movies are the Terminator series. I do, however, prefer there to be no sequels to this movie due to the fact that a sequel would probably be no more than a revamped version of the first one. With that being said, I recommend seeing it. 8/10
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tedg2 October 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

Some day, probably soon, we'll become overtly offended - revolt - when special effects are used to paper over multidimensional weaknesses. Some day, probably far off, we'll refuse to watch mugging celebrities in the place of actors.

Some day there'll be more to stories than this. With due respect, though this movie has little to do with Asimov, Asimov's stories weren't all that well crafted or even intelligent. And this movie does have the double fakeouts, first Sonny then Robertson. But it is still mechanical.

And can we ever escape the notion of the rogue Hal? (And the girl scientist?) Philip K Dick had the very best one of these, I think, in VALIS.

The idea could be clever, like in 'Forbidden Planet,' where the 'electronic brain' literally creates memories and reality.

Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
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How could they get it wrong
clgarglez23 March 2007
OK flashy special effects, good actors, original plot good. How could they get it wrong? While not as bad as Doom, House of the Dead or Lovecraft wannabe movies. There is a serious lacking int the plot department, Assimov would not have like it probably we would not have allow it unless they paid him very very much and nor any one who read the books and like them well the truth be told the books and stories are more paced like an intelligent detective story than an action adventure book if they wanted that there are plenty of Salgari books out there. The depiction of the young Dr. Susan Calvin is outrageous, they thought.. why put the middle age intelligent woman lets just replace her with any nice looking actress to attract the male audience. Is a must avoid to any Assimov fan. Not based at best referenced to.
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First Rule of Robotics: Don't Kick Isaac In His Asimov
zardoz-1322 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Rule # 1: Hollywood shouldn't make some books into movies.

Take, for example, science fiction author Isaac Asimov's "I, Robot," a classic collection of cautionary short stories about the unforeseen complications in a robot's logic as it tries to obey the three laws of robotics. Even when the robots appeared insane, Asimov was careful to show that by the lights of the robot's "positronic brains," they are behaving logically.

Rule # 2: Movies with multiple stories don't make millions.

Too many characters. Too many ideas. Too much originality. Too much segmentation. Consequently, when Hollywood lays its hands on literary legends like Asimov, they dumb down his work and turn it into a sprawling saga, with brash, loud-mouthed characters that audiences can laugh with so they can forget about the summer heat.

In the Will Smith movie "I, Robot," Australian director Alex Proyas of "The Crow," Oscar-winning scenarist Akiva Goldsman of "A Beautiful Mind," and "Final Fantasy" scribe Jeff Vintar have retained the three laws of robotics, but have turned an otherwise literary classic into a shallow, uninspired, paint-by-the-numbers, potboiler about an heroic, wise-cracking Chicago cop in the year 2035 who abhors robots. "I, Robot" opens with the three laws of robots.

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.

3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

An alarm clock awakens divorced homicide detective Del Spooner (Will Smith of "Ali") to another wonderful day. After a shower scene designed to display Smith's buff body, especially his curiously scarred "Rambo" pectorals, our swaggering stereotypical lone wolf hero dons his ghetto black street clothes, unpacks a vintage pair of 2004 Converse All-Star sneakers, and cruises off to his first crime scene of the day in his tricked out Audi.

The headquarters of the U.S. Robotics Corporation--a Microsoft-type company—stands in downtown Chicago. U.S. Robotics plans to put a robot in every home. Apparently, U.S.R.'s chief robot designer, Dr. Alfred Lanning (James Cromwell of "Babe"), committed suicide. The visionary scientist hurled himself through his office window and fell hundreds of feet to the lobby. Spooner learns that Lanning had requested him specifically, so Del could listen to a message Lanning recorded for him on a preprogrammed hologram. Initially, Lanning's cryptic remarks make no sense to Del. When he visits Lanning's office, he discovers that the good doctor couldn't have jumped through the window. Del tries to break the window next to the window that Lanning shattered and barely makes a dent when he smashes a chair against it. No sooner does Del realize that the killer may still be in the room than the killer surprises him and escapes.

Eventually, Del captures the robot and interrogates him. Before he can get far, U.S. Robotics' CEO Lawrence Robertson (Bruce Greenwood, who played JFK in "Thirteen Days") storms into the police station. He demands the return of his property. Robertson reminds Del that the authorities cannot charge robots with murder. Not only have robots never posed a threat to humans, but also only humans can be charged with homicide. Inevitably, Del's world-weary boss, Lieutenant John Bergin (Chi McBride of "Gone In 60 Seconds"), chews him out for crying 'robot' every time something happens to him. Del remains far from convinced, however, about the innocence of robots. He bears a grudge against them. During an accident, a truck rammed both his vehicle and another car with a 12-year old girl inside. Both cars sank into a river. A passing robot witnessed the accident and dived in to rescue Del. Our protagonist told the robot to save the little girl instead, so he feels guilty about her death and despises robots.

Gee, doesn't this sound familiar? Like a movie from the 1980s? A rebellious but maimed cop battling a corporation with a dark secret. Hey, didn't Tom Selleck do something like that in the 1984 epic "Runaway?" Or what about 1982's "Blade Runner?" Or "Westworld," where the robots cannot kill humans either. Del spends the rest of "I, Robot's" predictable 115 minutes trying to prove to everybody that robots are dangerous. He worries especially because his mother (Adrian Ricard of "Bulworth") has won a robot in lottery. Meanwhile, despite all this horrible publicity, Robertson plans to market a new line of robots, and he wants Del off his back permanently. Of course, hard-headed as Del is, he doesn't take no for an answer, even when Bergin takes his badge and suspends him from the force.

Basically, aside from a fairly low-key performance, Will Smith's futuristic detective doesn't appear too far removed from his wealthy playboy cop in the "Bad Boys" movies. Unfortunately, he doesn't have a sidekick like Martin Lawrence to take up the slack in this occasionally exciting but largely superficial sci-fi saga. Not even his quips seem catchy. Smith spouts lines like: "Does believing you're the last sane man on the planet make you crazy? 'Cause if that's the case, maybe I am. " Probably his best line, and that isn't saying much, is: "Somehow 'I told you so' just doesn't quite say it." "I, Robot" looks okay, if you don't think about some of the gaping plot holes. Wait until you see what Del's secret weapon is. Talk about a cop-out! The robots are marginally intimidating, but two action sequences, a careening chase scene in a freeway tunnel and a demolition robot that destroys a mansion look cool. Despite its plea for tolerance, which was handled better in "Bicentennial Man," "I, Robot" breaks no new ground in the robots on the prowl genre.
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1006612611 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I can't really think of any redeeming features of this utterly bad rendering on Asimov than the art direction. Forget the product placement disaster, the unconvincing performance from Will Smith and the gargantuan plot-holes. This wasn't only laughable and but painful to watch. Even the action was boring. A mixture of MTV inspired production values and utterly bad dialogue probably aimed at very small children.

What a shame that sci-fi this bad can still be made after we've had Bladerunner, Minority Report or to a lesser extent Dark City (by the same director). This one really belongs in the bottom 100 list. Truly awful.
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A Potent Elixir of Asimov Diluted Into 40 Ounces of Ghetto
adam8it217 July 2004
OK, I think the Asimov fans already knew this was a loose recreation of the original and personally, I have no problems with movies based on books which end up almost nothing like the book. In my opinion, this movie couldn't stand alone as a great piece of cinema and only has the 'I, Robot' name to give it any validity.

My biggest issue as one may guess from my summary is Will Smith's ghetto, flippant attitude throughout the movie. From the first scene of Smith leaving his apartment, he walks down the street with a scowl on his face, bumping into people, and dew-rag over his ear just dripping with 'thug'. Just like in ID-4 and Men in Black, Smith faces life-threatening circumstances with a sarcastic and improbable facade. Nothing is ever scary or serious to the characters he plays. Not the aliens chasing him in Independence Day, not the giant killer-cockroach in Men in Black, and not hundreds of killer-robots in this movie. Smith retorts to ever threat with a stereotypically black attitude. His confrontation with his boss when he loses his badge is nothing short of ridiculous. He stomps off shouting and throwing a tantrum like a stereotypical, over-entitled minority. For me it's disgusting and tired. I think Will Smith can be funny and charming. I like that he took a break from music during the early 90's when hip-hop was saturated with hateful gansta-rap, finally returning when things settled down with a decent album. I don't know why he continues to play roles where he assumes these arrogant roles, fronting everyone off wherever he goes.

True to her character in the book, Bridget Moynahan plays a decent Dr. Calvin. Cold, intelligent, and logical.

If you're an Asimov fan, don't expect the book or anything Asimov would have approved.
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Here's the exchange i would like to have heard....
JoeB1313 February 2009
Del - "You are the dumbest smart person I've ever met."

Calvin- "Well,I had a brain, but they lost it in the re-writes."

I think what I find most egregious about this bastardization of Asimov's work was how the character of Susan Calvin was portrayed. In the books, she was actually one of the first strong female protagonists, able to think her way through a problem. Here she's just a damsel in distress, waiting to be rescued by Wil Smith.

There are passing references to Asimov's Laws of Robotics, but they are an afterthought to the CGI and action scenes.

Smith is likable, as he is in most of his films, but honestly, the story isn't that good. YOu figure it out long before these genius characters do.
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Doovidooves14 September 2005
I saw this movie with great expectations, and quite frankly, I was a bit disappointed.

Of course, Issac Asimov's concept was a good one, but the execution on the other hand was poor.

Granted, the movie wasn't terrible, I just really didn't do it for me. The special effects were a little... fake and overdone. The action was cheesy and out of place. The story was a bit, well, predictable, and the acting left much to be desired.

Perhaps worst of all were the characters of the story.

Sonny, the main robot of the story was perhaps the most realistic and human character of the story. Great... But aren't robots not supposed to be very human? It just didn't work for me at all. The robot was the character that I related to the most. That just shouldn't happen! Now there have been many robot movies where the robots are portrayed as having human-like qualities, such as blade runner. That was good. The androids in that movie were closer to human than they were robot anyway. But the robots in this story we're supposed to be robotic.

Moving along, the worst character in the story was of Del Spooner, the main character of the movie played by Will Smith. Will Smith played the same exact character he has played in just about every other movie he has ever been in. You'd think that they'd give him more original roles by now. But instead, we get the same old wise crackin' main character that Smith has portrayed in every movie he has ever done.

Alright... this is getting a bit lengthy, so I'm gonna rap it up. I, Robot was a disappointment. It was in all definitions of the word, meh.
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The Return of Frankenstein
arnochen-127 August 2004
When Isaac Asimov at the age of 14 read pulp SF-stories, he soon became fed up with the usual stereotype robot story: Mad, but brilliant scientist construct a robot that turns against its creator and have to be deactivated by the hero of the story. So, when he later became a SF-writer he created his famous three laws of robotic, to enable him to write stories, that was not infected by the Frankenstein Syndrome.

The movie 'I, Robot' is named after Asimov's first collection of robot short stories. It uses his three laws and even some of the character's names. But the plot is far from being Asimovian! It is a typical Frankenstein story of the kind that Isaac Asimov would hate.

For a genuine SF-fan who admires Isaac Asimov, this is a very sad film that demonstrates contempt for one of the true masters of science fiction!
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Badass struts, chases robots.
Dan11 July 2005
If ever there was a movie that seemed to be a deliberate statement by Hollywood that it despises the intelligence of the American moviegoer, this movie is it. And based on the colossal box office receipts the movie garnered, the studios are dead-on in their assessments. This summer's (2005) box-office slump clearly is more an indication of moviegoers finding other brainless amusements (like reality TV, I suppose) than their displeasure with the vile crap the studios feed them. This past weekend seems to confirm that, since the universally-panned "Fantastic Four" broke the slump.


The story in "I, Robot" has virtually nothing to do with Asimov's wonderful series of tales, which are actually more philosophy than science fiction. He was never better at pondering the human factor in a world of ever-increasing technology. I read the stories when I was a kid, and I've just recently listened to them on audio CD. It confirms what I was pretty sure I remembered: that the stories are genuine, warm, full of human insight, and wonderful.

All of that is entirely absent from this movie. It is an opportunity to worship at the altar of Will Smith, and nothing else. He struts around--and "struts" is far too weak of a word--clad in ultra-stylish leather from head to toe, with two gigantic guns in matching shoulder holsters. He lives with his grandmother, a plump, bespectacled caricature of Aunt Jemima. (Almost like Martin Lawrence in drag.) He's glib, garrulous and rude, but he keeps flashing his patented grin to excuse his crass personality. The dialog is banal to the point of incredulity. The movie is largely CGI, and Smith performed his role mostly wearing weird suits inside a small set and standing before a blue background. One can imagine what kind of soulful performance that coaxes from an actor. Considering that the actor is Smith, who is hardly Shakespearean-caliber to begin with, the result is about as convincing as a bunch of 8th-graders trying to act tough down at the maltshop.

The movie is so focused on Smith's "personality" to the exclusion of all else that one is almost surprised the editors didn't add in a sitcom laugh-track to punctuate his weak one-liners.

The only thing close to the irony of Asimov's tales that this movie achieves is purely unintentional. The rise of CGI technology in movie-making has made it possible, and even profitable, to make movies that are nearly purely eye-candy, with no story, no dialog, no ideas, no thoughts. Like a two-hour music video. Man uses technology to corrupt and debase an artistic medium that was once capable of beauty. That would elicit a wry smile from Asimov.
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