Film review: I, Robot

1 Comment

I, Robot

I’m beginning to think I need two film review scales: one for ‘summer blockbusters’ and another for ‘real films’. Can one really compare a special effects blockbuster to an emotional character piece, for example? Not really; so keep in mind my ratings are a function of the genre. In any event I’m scaling them down a tad so I have more room to move for those films that are really memorable.

As the credits rolled on I, Robot I felt as if I’d been quite entertained; until the vaguely apologetic sentence ‘inspired by Asimov’s book’ came up on the screen and I suddenly recalled how many blockbuster movie cliches had wended their weary way across my eyes.
Of course, abandon all hope of being true to Asimov all ye who enter: we all knew that from the first trailer.

I, Robot isn’t a bad film, though one wonders how much Alex Proyas was forced to include or leave out by the beancounting suits at Fox. No director puts four or more screen-filling shots of the Audi logo in his or her film by choice, surely, and the references to Smith’s ‘retro 2004 shoes’ must have muscled out some nice screentime filled with, oh say useless things like character development. It’s just frustrating how many boxes have to be checked these days for the studio to guarantee their millions of dollars on a film. Check, the car chase; check, the troubled cop with a past; check, the sweet old grandmother (with pie); check, the sexy but frigid scientist who at the end of the film sports tousled hair and leather pants.

The film looks great, the action is slick, there are some nice camera moves, and Will Smith does his Will Smith thing perfectly. Alan Tudyk does a nice job as the robot (check out his great work as Wash in the fantastic Firefly). The plot is even a little more complex than at first glance. You’ll feel entertained. And then the credits roll, and that ‘inspired by Asimov’s book’ line comes up, and you think “There’s so much fantastic sci-fi literature out there, years and years of it, great stories; why can’t they just stick to the story?”

Two and a half NS-5s out of five.

Spiderman 2

One Comment (+add yours?)

  1. anaglyph
    Aug 02, 2004 @ 08:48:43

    ‘I Robot’ is a pretty good Coke-and-popcorn film, which, to be fair, is about all it really sets out to be. Probably the biggest mistake they made in my book is bothering to call it ‘I Robot’ at all. It would have been prudent IMO to have stuck with the original name of the script (‘Hardwired’) and to have just let Asimov’s wonderful collection be.

    But that’s Hollywood.

    Will Smith does manage to tone down his glib rap-boy posturing by a notch and there are couple of reasonable scenes with him. He is outshone nearly always though by the robot Sonny (voiced by Alan Tudyk – actually ‘played’ by Alan Tudyk in a way, as Andy Sirkus ‘played’ Gollum. There’s got to be a word for this soon…)

    The action scenes are well constructed for the most part, though curiously flat and lacklustre. The film does its best work in the personal interplays between Sonny and his creators and, probably unsurprisingly, that’s where it touches most closely on the original Asimov.

    If you have seen ‘Bladerunner’, ‘Robocop’, and ‘The Forbin Project’ you will have seen the ideas in this film executed much more convincingly.

    I’ll raise you 2 ED-209s and a Nexus6 and see your NS-5s.