Ebert: Entertainment Weekly: TV Guide:
minor plot points revealed!
"I came here with a simple dream. A dream of killing all humans."
Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics from I, Robot
Alan Wiseman's Three Laws of Robot Movie Perfection
I love I, Robot. This movie was just plain awesome. It has all the elements of a brilliant summer Sci-Fi extravaganza. I was so excited about this movie that I dragged my 8 1/2 month pregnant wife to a midnight show on Thursday just so I could be first to see it! And it was totally worth it. I, Robot is definitely one of the best movies of the year.
Now lets talk briefly about the "controversy" and poor reviews that this movie has received (as seen above) from my less than distinguished colleagues.
First of all, most of the negativity in the reviews seems to stem from the exact inverse of my 1st and 2nd Laws of Robot Movie Perfection. Apparently everyone has forgotten that Will Smith is super-cool and has starred in some of the best (and The Best) science fiction movies in history. Will is a victim of his own success, be it film, TV or music. His dominance in all three forms of media result in jealous disdain from most critics who envy his talent and are spiteful of it. Additionally, critics for some reason that I have never understood, have a pseudo-intellectual arrogance about big budget special effects with non-stop action. As far as I'm concerned, a movie can stand with these elements alone. Sometimes story and character development are incidental. If I see tens of thousands of robots, Orks or spaceships attacking, then as far as I'm concerned, I'm watching cinematic gold.
The "controversy" about the film as seen in some reviews but most loudly voiced by the Literary Sci-Fi-Geek Elite is that the film does not follow Isaac Asimov's 1950 short story collection I, Robot. Here's a perfect example of a stupid droning nerd. Now don't get me wrong, I actually consider myself to be a Super Sci-Fi Nerd and I'm proud of it, but I can see an awesome movie and also separate it from the book that provided the source material. A perfect example of this is Starship Troopers which I just happen to be reading right now. I did not read the 1959 book by Robert A. Heinlein before I saw the movie but I love the movie and am now reading the book. The book is not really much like the movie at all, but here's an interesting thing; I can actually use my nerd powers to enjoy both the book and the movie independently of each other. How about that! Wouldn't it be a wonderful world if other people had this power as well. At least we'd never have to hear the stupid boring argument about "the book over the movie" again. By the way, the end credits of the movie say "Suggested by Isaac Asimov's book." Not "based on" or even "inspired by" but "suggested by." I believe the filmmakers have thus sufficiently distanced themselves from Asimov and this whole stupid "controversy" is a non-issue.
Now on with the review! The story in the FILM I, Robot, follows robo-phobic detective Del Spooner as he is called to U.S. Robotics headquarters to investigate the apparent suicide of the company's top robot designer, Dr. Alfred Lanning. He has a relationship with the dead scientist and immediately begins to suspect foul play after seeing a holographic plea from his now-dead friend. Because of the Three Laws of Robotics (seen above) it is not even considered that a robot could have caused the doctor's death and the obvious suspect is U.S. Robotic CEO Lance Robertson. Spooner however is more apt to believe that it was a robot and quickly finds a robo-suspect that perfectly fits the crime. A robot named Sonny that was created by Dr. Lanning with the ability to disregard the Three Rules. Soon after the doctor's death a robot revolution ensues. Spooner and Dr. Susan Calvin, a robo-psychologist with the company, must find out what is causing the uprising and who is behind it.
The special effects is this movie are absolutely perfect. Chicago, 2035 is a brilliant dark future mix of Blade Runner and Minority Report. The robot drones are reminiscent of the droid armies from the Star Wars: Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. Add to the mix a bit of A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Resident Evil's Red Queen and Hal 9000 of 2001: A Space Odyssey. I love how flawless CGI has become. As far as I can tell, this entire movie was filmed in front of a blue screen and absolutely none of it is "real." And that is awesome!
The action sequences are super-cool. There is a great scene where Spooner has to escape from the doctor's house as it is being demolished by a huge robot that looks like one of the ED 209 robots from Robocop. Another great scene is the one you see in the previews of robots attacking Spooner's car in a tunnel. And the big finale with the robot assault on U.S. Robotics Headquarters incorporates styles from John Woo films to The Matrix Series with some of the wild camera work of Sam Raimi.
The actors are all great. I love Will Smith and as far as I'm concerned he can do no wrong. He is absolutely perfect as Detective Spooner and his humor and quips are all hilarious and perfectly timed. He also has a really cool looking outfit that he wears through most of the movie. James Cromwell is fine as Dr. Alfred Lanning. He's only in a few holographic scenes so he's kind of literally phoning-in this performance. Bridget Moynahan is good as the skeptic Dr. Susan Calvin who soon comes to realize that Spooner's paranoia is dead-on. Bruce Greenwood is making a good career as a movie villain, seen here as U.S. Robotic CEO. Chi McBride is fine as the standard movie police Lieutenant that says stuff like "Hand in your badge!" And finally, the voice of Sonny is Alan Tudyk. You probably don't know him but if you saw Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story earlier this summer, he's Steve the Pirate!
I, Robot is a perfect summer action adventure Sci-Fi movie and there's just no argument to the contrary. I loved it and can't wait to watch it again and again and again. Don't pay any attention to the other reviews or the know-it-all ramblings of your friend with the Spock ears. Trust me, it's a great movie.