I, Robot (2004)
Director: Alex Proyas
Bruce Greenwood /Lawrence
In the year 2035, robots co-inhabit the earth with humans, acting as our beeyatches. Thankfully for us, they are kept in line by a set of rules integrated into their make. When it appears that one particular automaton named Sonny (Tudyk) bypassed the commands and committed a murder, droid-phobic cop Spooner (Smith) is all over the case like flies on a corpse. He eventually uncovers a larger bot-plot that could leave mankind in the “Dust-Buster.”
Inspired by the nine tales found in Isaac Asimov’s anthology book "I, Robot" and helmed by "The Crow" and "Dark City" director Alex Proyas (aka genius), I expected the moon from "I Robot", but regrettably received random nuggets of top-notch fun instead. It all started on the right mechanical limb, with a slick premise in tow, an appealing, if not too “light” hero (in the guise of Will Smith), and a potent enough mystery (I adored the dream angle). For the first half hour or so, I was kept in my seat by the gripping intrigue which was backed up by stellar visual effects across the board. The futuristic city landscapes, the sleek cars and those damn creepy robots all came through in their look and execution! NICE!
Sadly, as the plot unraveled further, the flick semi-lost its grip on me via its simple narrative. Man, I loathed how the investigation angle was handled here! It didn’t help that what drove it was some “stupid as Hilton” message that the “creator” of the robots left for our hero. Hey man...world domination is imminent...how about Fed-Exing the dude a letter stating exactly what was going on, as opposed to riddles and tricky jogs about town like a lost mailman? In addition, Spoons’ dumb-dumb partner in tomfoolery, Dr. Susan, made the proceedings somewhat painful to sit through. If Bridget Moynahan (Susan) is a scientist/psychologist than I’m freakin' Pope John Paul Arrow 1. I didn’t buy her character for a second and her constant refusal to accept what was going on, even after all that she witnessed, grated the crap out of me! Hey girl, the rules are not full-proof. DEAL WITH IT! Lastly, why in everything that is holy on this trashy earth was that freaking “kid” tossed into the mix again? What a worthless character that was!
Luckily, "I Robot" was not only uber-stylishly shot (go Proyas go!), but it also peppered its clumsy chain of events with enough jaw-dropping sequences to keep me interested throughout. I grooved on the robot vs robot fisticuffs, Will Smith kicking robo-butt in slow motion, the many large scale robots causing a ruckus bits and the impressive car chases. I essentially had a party with all of the physical get-downs found in this film. In the end, "I Robot" was a decent watch on a cosmetic/entertainment level, but if you’re looking for intelligence and depth (the film barely addressed the whole “when is a robot more than a machine” thing), you’re barking up the wrong toaster. “I, A-HOLE”!
We get some blood, bots being turned into junk and a humanoid, mechanical arm being damaged.
Will Smith (Spooner) played Will Smith once more. He cranked up the token Smith charm, did his one-liner thing, took off his shirt and called it a day. Bridget Moynahan (Susan) was hot, but the way her part was written matched with her “weakling” delivery, didn’t do it for me. Bruce Greenwood (Lawrence) let his suit do most of the acting (was it the same one that he wore in “Double Jeopardy”?) His impeccable tan also lent him able support. GREAT ACTING! Alan Tudyk (Sonny) handled his voice duties like a man…playing a droid.
T & A
We get Bridget Moynahan in a shower scene. Frustratingly, we don’t see anything since her shower door is more fogged up than my toked-up mind. Thanks, Mr. Filmmaker! The ladies get Will Smith showing off his beefcake pecks and his buttocks in a shower scene (his shower had no door). NOT FAIR!
I’m happy to report that Proyas hasn’t lost the kinetic visual touch that he so proudly displayed in both "The Crow" and "Dark City". We get a horde of daring shots, an arresting use of slow motion and zany angles galore. I dug it!
The score by Marco Beltrami got the job done. Nothing more, nothing less. We also get a sly use of that old ditty “Superstitious”.
"I Robot" sported an attention-grabbing premise, solid special effects, exhilarating action sequences and an army of heebie-jeebies inducing robots. Too bad that its more interesting themes weren’t capitalized upon and that its middle section didn’t do much for me in terms of the trite investigation that dominated it. In the end, this was just Will Smith is funny vs Robots, not too different from Will Smith is funny vs Aliens (ID4-MIB). See it with a tub of popcorn, NOT your thinking cap. NOTE: I’m convinced that Bruce Greenwood’s suit was somehow responsible for the robots going hog wild. I have a crack team of scientists and philosophers all over that theory as we speak...and I will prove it right!
Here are the three “robot” rules:
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
Replace the word “robot” by “girlfriend” and the word “human” by “boyfriend”, print it out, stick it on the fridge and thank me when your relationship blossoms (that’s a joke, a bad one but a joke nonetheless)