Review Date: July 12, 2004
Director: Alex Proyas
Writer: Jeff Vintar, Akiva Goldsman
Producers: John Davis, Topher Dow, Laurence Mark
Will Smith as Del Spooner
Bridget Moynahan as Susan Calvin
Bruce Greenwood as Lawrence Robertson
The year is 2035 and a new line of robots are about to be placed in many human homes in order to help make our lives that much easier. One cop, however, suspects that something may be amiss with the new robots and attempts to link one of them to an actual human murder, something against which they are programmed. A shot of Will Smith's ass in the shower...ensues.
Damn! I was really looking forward to this film blowing my nuts clean off, but instead, was treated to a decent summer sci-fi romp that is likely to be forgotten by my already-burned-out braincells once I get to the end of this review. The film's biggest problem? The story. I wasn't expecting a BLADE RUNNER, a MINORITY REPORT or even a DARK CITY in terms of its scope and intrigue, but I definitely wanted more than a "cop on the chase" movie with little more than cryptic clues left for him to figure out over humorous quips and disapproval by all around him. If you hate watching movies in which the lead character is so very obviously "on to something", but everybody else treats him like a moron or a paranoid freak until about 5 minutes before all hell breaks loose, you're likely to be pulling out your hair about halfway through this movie, as everybody but the lead character seems oblivious to many extremely obvious gaffes in the robotic program. Story issues aside (and yes, the man behind BATMAN & ROBIN is half of the screenwriting team here), the film did still manage to blow me away with much of its sci-fi-ness, its ultra-cool robots, punchy action sequences (the underground tunnel car crash sequence was awesome), slick directing, memorable score and a believable futuristic environment that slipped me right into the world in which all of these kooky happenings were occurring. In fact, pretty much any scene featuring the robots, particularly the lead robot "Sonny", was engaging in both its visual aspect and in terms of interest to the story. I wish they would spent more time with them, as opposed to the back-and-forths with Moynahan's consistently skeptical character, which got a little tiring after a while. And incidentally, if you're gonna show me Will Smith's ass in the shower (it's all good), show me the lovely Ms. M's as well, for God's sakes!
One other aspect that had me worried before seeing this movie was its possible over-emphasis on "Will Smith humor", but other than a few odd one-liners ("Now that's just stupid!"-funny), it wasn't necessarily over-played. I do still wish the film wasn't played "jokey" at all though, and a dark, edgier movie had been made with the terrific source material and eye-popping effects, but unfortunately this is a "Hollywood movie" and even though it does feature a number of grim sequences, it never really leaves its safe haven, with a "cutesy" grandma tossed in to cushion the blows and an extremely useless Shia Laboeuf character tossed in for target marketing purposes. Bruce Greenwood, playing his usual role of the "Canadian Tax Credit", is also wasted in a handful of scenes (seemingly shot on the same day) and doesn't really lend much suspense to the film as the only real suspect around. At the end of the day, you're basically strolling from one eye-candy scene to the next, with Smith trying to convince everyone that he's not nuts in between action sequences and characters speaking about the "3 laws" over and over again, until shit hits the fan and a pretty damn sweet finale caps it all off. Now despite being impressed with the film's final combat sequences (gimme a robot vs robot fight anytime!), I didn't particularly care with how the film was "resolved", but did appreciate its top-notch effect work throughout, as well as those damn cool robots!! (or did I mention that already?) All in all, I can't say that this movie turned out to be the dark, kick-ass, sci-fi classic motion picture for which I was hoping, but it was still a damn good time with plenty of fun action sequences to help you forget about its obvious run-of-the-mill plotline.
(c) 2017 Berge Garabedian