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I, Robot (SE)
DVD disk
05.25.2005 By: Quigles
I, Robot (SE) order
Director:
Alex Proyas

Actors:
Will Smith
Bridget Moynahan
Alan Tudyk

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
In this completely non-literal translation of Isaac Asimov’s novel, robots and technology have become an integral part of human life, and the only thing stopping them from going completely haywire is “the three laws” (which enforce the safety of humans). It isn’t long before the robots show signs of evolution, and decide they don’t want to be daddy’s little bitch no more. Detective Spooner is on the case.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
My three laws for sci-fi blockbusters are as follows: 1. The movie must entertain on both a visual and mental level. 2. The movie must have a charismatic lead with plenty of appeal. 3. The movie must consist of plenty of shit blowing up, being smashed into, and tossed around left and right.” Ok, so that last law doesn’t always apply, but it certainly fits here; all the laws do.

When I first watched this movie in theaters I was pretty disappointed with it. When you consider that the man behind THE CROW and DARK CITY is at the helm, you really start to expect something breathtaking. Visually, the film is flawless, albeit much less dark than Proyas’ previous two grandeurs. Story wise though... not so much. The plot is very simply, with plenty of ridiculous clues and an annoyingly obvious outcome. What makes things worse is that the flick constantly shows moments of intelligence, but never goes anywhere with the ideas. It does, however, find the time to show Will Smith’s ass.

Despite I, ROBOT not quite “doing it” for me on the big screen, I was hoping that maybe I’d get more out of it on DVD. Fortunately, I did. Since I now knew that the flick didn’t exactly rank high on the “smart” scale, I was much more ready to sit down, grab a bucket of popcorn, and let my mind ooze with what was presented. That being, astonishing effects, awesome robot brawls, and a knockout ending to behold. So basically, if you’re in the mood for 2 hours of fun action, minus a clever plot, plus plenty of kick ass robots, then consider this your ticket to good times ahead.
THE EXTRAS
Had it not been for the frustrating and complicated navigation (which almost had me throwing my DVD remote out the window), I would have had no choice but to give the DVD a perfect score, for it has some of the greatest extras I’ve ever seen. If you’re like me and would rather see the film being made instead of hearing about it from interviews, then this Special Edition (or should I say All-Access Collector’s Edition) will certainly take your fancy. It’s got everything you could possibly want from a 2-disc set and more (the second disc alone has four hours worth of extras).

Disc 1:

Commentary (with director Alex Proyas and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman): Included from the earlier DVD release, this commentary is only somewhat worthy of listening to. I like Proyas as a director, but he’s not very engaging in commentaries, despite discussing several themes and ideas. Goldsman seems to talk a lot more, but to be honest, I found him fairly annoying.

Commentary (with the production designer, the editor, and the visual effects team): There’s some interesting information discussed here, but it isn’t consistent enough. The more enjoyable talkers point out what’s digital and what isn’t, while the more boring ones blab on about how great Proyas is at directing.

Commentary (with composer Marco Beltrami): Out of the three commentaries, I found this one the most entertaining, due in large part to the isolated musical track that played alongside Beltrami talking. If you like music, check this out.

The Making of I, Robot (12:35): Also included from the original release, this standard and lame “making-of” has plenty of interviews and movie clips, but none of the juicy information. Skip this and move on to the second disc.

Still Gallery: There are thirty images presented, and the robot design pictures early on are the only ones of interest.

Disc 2:

Day Out Of Days: The I, Robot Production Diaries (1:35:59): Presented here is a 9-part journey into separate sections of making the movie, each complete with individual chapters. It’s a very long, very entertaining, and very awesome extra. The footage here is down and dirty, exploring little segments from actual days of shooting. All of the clips are pretty random, and they give you a pretty good idea about how much of the movie is based around green screens, models, and CGI. If you have the time for it, watch it all.

CGI and Design (34:32): This is separated into five sections, not including a brief introduction from Alex Proyas. Just as interesting as the previous extra, this featurette explains several key ideas behind I, ROBOT, such as the creation of Sonny and the city, as well as bringing them to life with the real life footage of the actors. There is even a brief chapter concerning a model version of the “house destruction” scene. Definitely worth checking out.

Sentient Machines: Robotic Behavior (35:05): Not quite as entertaining as the previous extras, this intellectual seven chapter featurette discusses robots, and everything about them in a scientific manner. If you thought there were some fascinating underlying themes behind the movie that were barely explored, then check this out. Many geeks (like me) will find it interesting, plus the archive footage makes it a bit more exciting to watch.

Three Laws Safe: Conversations About Science Fiction and Robotics (30:33): Jeff Vintar, Akiva Goldsman, and others discuss the background of the book and movie in this four section featurette. Vintar is especially engaging, discussing various cool ideas, like when he relates Frankenstein’s monster to a central idea in I, Robot. Goldsman on the other hand, makes the movie seems so much more cerebral than it really is.

Deleted Scenes (6:40): There are four of them. The first, entitled “Basketball” is nothing more than a fun extended clip in which Shia LaBeouf (who had no point in the movie to begin with) plays basketball and gets launched in the air by a robot. It’s unfinished, so it’s kind of cool to watch. The second deleted scene features some much needed depth that should have been included in the film. The two alternate endings are nothing special and should be skipped.

Compositing Breakdowns: Visual Effects “How Tos” (16:26): There are three sections (Digital Domain, Weta, and Rainmaker) that play several different clips from the movie, starting at the most basic level (usually green screen). During the clips, numerous effects appear, so that layers-upon-layers of CGI and such is added to eventually produce the final product. Extremely cool; check at least a few of them out.

EASTER EGGS: There are four different easter eggs you can locate, which are very funny and worth tracking down. Most of them are located in the chapter pages for the I, Robot Production Diaries.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
I would not have recommended purchasing the previous DVD release of I, ROBOT, mainly because the poor extras didn’t warrant it, despite the movie being pretty darn enjoyable. Now that a much more extras-filled release is here, I can finally recommend buying this puppy. To those of you who already bought the flick, I can’t really say whether it’s worth a double dip, but if you have the money for it, why the hell not? Spoil yourself! That goes double for the rest of you.
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