on January 27, 2014
I have seen Isaac Asimov's I, Robot several times in the past and had an urge to see it again. This time I bought it for my collection. The first thing to know if you have read the book is that the movie takes only the title, Susan Calvin's name and character and one very small incident. And the incident was significantly changed. For everyone else it won't matter.
Having said that, the movie stands as a thoroughly entertaining two hours. Everything makes sense including the possibility or likelihood of it's advanced technology. I think we can expect it. Will Smith is perfect in his role as are the special effects. Everything looks real as do all special effects these days. The story concerns a master computer, Vicki, and a new generation of humanoid robots. They are trying to do good for all. But both do terrible things without, in compliance with the three laws, harming a single human. If you don't know the three laws you will from the movie.
That's as far as I will go so as to leave some surprises for those who haven't seen the movie which I highly recommend.
Why not five stars? Because while it has the viewer consider the good and bad of technology, just think of the industrial robots replacing human workers, it isn't quite deep enough for my taste. Brave New Word, 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 among many others did it better. And I'll watch it again, maybe tonight.
on December 26, 2011
I have to disclose right at the start that I have never read an Isaac Asimov book and so I can only judge the movie without any reference to the book it is based upon. Now that I've got that out of the way, I also have to say that I have always liked film noir and so movies that are even remotely noir-ish like this one and say "Blade Runner" or even "Gattaca" have a headstart with me. That said, while the movies share similarities with each other e.g. the Smith and Harrison cop characters after renegade artificial life forms etc "I, Robot" rises above just being a shoot-em up, all action film but also appeals to a thinking audience raising the issue of bigotry and prejudice with Smith's hatred of all things robot based upon his one bad experience with them and how all this changes once he gets to know and understand them better. There are some elements though that detract from the enjoyment of the movie such as the inclusion of scenes that are not necessary; while I am fan of Shia LeBeuf for example from his work on "The Greatest Game Ever Played" I thought his scenes were totally useless here and that the film would be far better off without any of his scenes. I also got the feeling that the film was too short and that far more meat could have been included to the story to develop the main characters more.
The good storyline aside though this movie has excellent 1080p picture and sound quality coming in DTS HD 5.1 MA making this a strong candidate for reference quality blu-ray disc. The special feature documentaries while not great are still pretty good and unless you are a diehard fan who has to have every single tidbit this average viewer for instance is happy with this release.
This blu-ray release has excellent picture and sound quality and a decent storyline making this a worthy reference disc in your video library.
Recommended for the picture and sound quality but perhaps the content could have been a little better.
An action/police procedual movie "inspired" by the work of Issac Asimov, and starring Will Smith.
I was reluctant to see this movie for a long time, until my friend Bridgette convinced me that it was worth watching. My reluctance came from the fact that the movie is very unlike the original Asimov stories, with only the Laws of Robotics and a few names making the transition.
The movie stars Smith as Del Spooner, Chicago police officer who has a real grudge against robots. This is hinted at in the opening title sequence, and is later explained in full detail just why Del has a problem with robots that no one else seems to share or understand. His boss at the precinct can't control him, his beloved grandmother chides him for his attitude, and he rubs everyone and everything raw, especially when it comes to the mechanical entities which now dominate Chicago and the rest of the U.S. in 2034.
So when Robot inventor Dr. Alfred Lanning (played in holograms by James Cromwell) dies in an apparent suicide, but asking for Del in his death message, Del's dislike for robots is put to the test as he visits the gargantuan building that holds US Robotics. Del's abrasive personality and style are matched against the cool and collected Dr. Calvin (Bridget Moynihan). It seems at first that Del's presence is useless and worse than useless. However, the apperance of Sonny (Alan Tudyk) and evidence suggesting that Lanning could not have committed suicide starts a chain of action sequences and investigations that reveal an audacious plan involving the latest model of robot to be released...
While the movie is 65% action and police procedural, and 30% science fiction, the movie does have a small dose of philosophy and the spirit of the original Asimov work As a minor spoiler, I will reveal here that, while not put directly in those terms, the movie's plot revolves around the "0th law". The first time I saw the movie, I recognized this immediately, and on this re-viewing, I appreciate that Proyas (who also directed Dark City (New Line Platinum Series) subtly inserted this distillation of the three laws. Proyas is a great director even if this movie, with its car chases and pyrotechnics does not play to his greatest strengths.
Cromwell does fine as a hologram, Moynihan does okay as Calvin. Tudyk provides a human face to Sonny the robot. Still, this movie, like many of his movies, belongs to Smith's Del Spooner. Smith is as always a protagonist which the viewers can follow. Even if, unlike many of his roles, Del's personality and history have a dark edge that (until this movie) Smith had never really explored before in movie roles. I note wryly that this is the second SF movie he has been in that he has been a police officer. (Men in Black (Deluxe Edition) being the first).
The movie IS a summer blockbuster type movie, but definitely in the upper tier of that subset of movies. The movie doesn't fail to entertain and I enjoyed it a lot.
Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics having become so ingrained in popular culture, fellow nerds can probably recite them with greater facility than the pledge of allegiance (which is actually sort of sad). I, ROBOT is a loose, roundabout film adaptation of Asimov's work. While it does explore Asimov's more cerebral themes, it emphasizes action and suspense and is tailored towards Will Smith's skills set. So I wouldn't say that it clings firmly to the spirit of Asimov's novels. But, setting that aside, I had fun watching this. Will Smith rarely disappoints.
"Ever since the first computers, there have always been ghosts in the machine, random segments of code that have grouped together to form unexpected protocols." So goes James Cromwell's voiceover, establishing a plot thread, engaging in moody foreshadowing. In the year 2035, in a world populated by safe robotic servants, Chicago Homicide Detective Del Spooner investigates the suicide of eminent scientist Dr. Alfred Lanning (James Cromwell), co-founder and primary designer of U.S. Robotics. Except that to Spooner's trained eye, the suicide theory comes off as skeevy, much to everyone else's disgust. But there's a connection between Spooner and the dead scientist which we eventually learn. Spooner believes that Lanning has deliberately left a trail of bread crumbs for him to follow. Spooner smells a conspiracy. Except that no one's buying his hunch, not when his robot paranoia is so apparent. An early scene demonstrates Spooner's deep-seated prejudices against automatons. In this scene he glimpses a robot loping along with a purse and he instantly sets out in pursuit, assuming (falsely) that the robot was guilty of purse-snatching. Never mind that, historically, no crimes have ever been perpetrated by a robot. The 3 Laws Safe, hardwired into its positronic brain, have always governed a robot's behavior, curbed any and all potentially harmful act.
Spooner's digging for clues in the towering U.S. Robotics facility leads him to encounters with various characters of note. Bruce Greenwood plays a shady executive at U.S. Robotics, and, yes, he immediately registers on Spooner's radar. Greenwood is pushing to mobilize the corporation's latest robot model, the NS-5, seeking to place one in every home. The detached and very literal Dr. Susan Calvin (Bridget Moynahan) is, ironically, a robot psychologist. She specializes in facilitating the interface between humans and robots. She strives to make the robots seem more human. Spooner has loads of fun tweaking her. Spooner also meets two non-humans: VIKI (Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence), the A.I. who runs operations at U.S. Robotics. And Sonny the prototype NS-5 model. Sonny is strikingly different from its fellow robots. As voiced by Alan Tudyk, Sonny projects an inquisitiveness and an appealing sense of individuality. But its suspicious conduct plants him square on top of Spooner's suspect list, and never mind Asimov's Three Robotic Laws. It turns out, there are ghosts in the machine.
The closing credits indicate that the film was "suggested" by Isaac Asimov's anthology book, and "suggested" is right. By no means does I, ROBOT adhere to Asimov's stories. This is a sci-fi thriller with elements of a whodunit, and it's enjoyable on that level. The visual effects are spectacular. Will Smith, one of Hollywood's true superstars, works his Will Smith magic, his charm and accessibility on full blast. But his greatest strength may be his ability to humanize his characters. In fact, Del Spooner seems to be one of only two characters here invested with a telling emotional trajectory and with character growth (the other is Sonny). Smith is also equally adept at playing action hero. This is something you can't consistently say about Shia LaBoeuf who has a supporting bit here as a completely irrelevant teen pal of Spooner's. LaBoeuf's presence helps to dumb down the movie. I sort of wish he was exempt from the Three Laws of Robotics. I meant the character he plays here, of course...
on January 3, 2013
I liked this movie. There were only a couple of things about it that annoyed me. One good thing about it was it starred Will Smith, but that was also the bad thing about it.
Here's what I mean by that. The character of Del Spooner as written by Isaac Asimov is completely flat and uninteresting. That's true for all of his characters, come to think about it. Asimov was an idea-man. His stories were always more about ideas than characters. I've read many of his stories, and while they always had interesting plots, the characters themselves were boring and lifeless.
Now along comes Will Smith, and suddenly, Del Spooner has some life to him. He actually seems more like a real person, which is great! Sort of. Some small doses of what I call "Smith-isms" would have been welcome here. But as usual, he has to go over the top with it, and this gets annoying after a while.
What I am talking about is "Generic Action Hero" Will Smith, where he pretty much just plays himself. You take any of his characters from his movies that start with an "I", and they are all the same guy - completely interchangeable. Independence Day, I am Legend, I Robot... he plays the same guy in every one. In all of those, he needs to take his shirt off for the audience (or in the case of I Robot, also show his butt in the shower). He also needs to say a lot of one-liners. And in some cases, he'll say or do something to someone to show how macho he is, then follow that up with another smart line that's supposed to show what a tough guy he is. But to me, it just makes him seem like a jerk.
Like the line, "Hold my pie. Hold it or wear it, sir." Supposed to be funny, right? But it's a Will Smith thing, not a Del Spooner thing. And it just makes me dislike the guy. It is kind of jarring, and this movie is filled with Smith-isms like that. You just have to get over it if you want to enjoy this movie.
I don't dislike Will Smith. I just wish he would tone it down a little. I don't really need to see his bare chest and butt - which has nothing to do with the story of this movie at all. I guess that's for the ladies, right? Except my wife watched it, and she just wanted him to put some clothes on.
Will Smith is like Tom Hanks in that way, where he pretty just plays himself no matter what he's in. Most people like Tom Hanks, so that's not usually a problem. Same for Will. And that's all I've got to say about that!
Back to the movie. I think Bridget Moynahan did a great job as Susan Calvin. Again, we had a pretty boring, lifeless character as written by Asimov. And this actress managed to rise above the lousy characterization and make Calvin seem more human. I liked this a lot.
Probably the best character in the movie though wasn't a human at all. It was Sonny, the CGI robot. This was really well done. One of the best highlights of the movie, IMO.
I'm not an Asimov fanboy who is hung up over the differences between the book and the movie. I've read the book, and I don't mind the title and elements of it being lifted to make something different. The book was a collection of short stories. It could never have been translated directly to the big screen. Instead, they just used Asimov's ideas about the future and made their own story. This worked out just fine, I thought.
I really liked the ideas presented in this movie. The tone of the movie felt right - except when interrupted by Smith-isms. But I learned to ignore those. I enjoyed how the movie made you think about the plot. Not everything was completely explained. I had to watch it twice before I really understood the story.
As far as the 3D Blu-Ray goes, I am sorry to say that I have to agree with most of the other reviewers who gave the 3D a poor rating. There is nothing wrong with the 3D in this movie. The problem is that there's just so little of it. There are long stretches of the movie where there is no 3D at all. I actually took off my 3D glasses at one point just to see if I was missing anything. Nope. The screen was perfectly clear. I was wearing glasses for no apparent reason. And then when the movie does have 3D, none of it pops from the screen. It is all just depth effects. The same effect that can be achieved with your 3D TV's auto-3D function (at least if you have an LG). Overall, it was a disappointing 3D purchase. If you have the 2D version, you're good to go. Trust me, you're not missing anything.
Some complained about the 3D Blu-Ray widescreen being cropped or something or other. I didn't notice anything like that, and I've seen it both ways. It seemed perfectly normal to me.
Also, there seems to be some confusion about what exactly is included with this disk. Here's what you get: 1 Blu-ray disk, and 1 DVD disk. When you play the Blu-ray, you can choose whether you want to play it in 2D or 3D. As for special features, I don't know the difference between this and the regular Blu-ray version.
Overall, it's a good movie and I'm glad I've got it. I'm not crazy about Will, but he does an okay job here. I wish the movie were less action-oriented and more cerebral, but you can't have everything. The 3D is forgettable, and disappointing to 3D fans such as myself. Buying this version versus the regular Blu-ray is pretty much no difference, except the regular is cheaper.
on December 14, 2004
Although I read Asimov when I was young, I didn't recall enough of it to spoil the movie for me. In fact, I read elsewhere that the movie only loosely follows pieces of Asimov's famous short story collection.
That being said, I loved the movie - it was highly entertaining, and a little philosophical, but not over-the-top philosophical like AI was (and nowhere near as lengthy). Will Smith does his usual fine job on screen, so you won't be disappointed with the acting. Don't listen to the critics who warned you away from seeing this movie - they were wrong again, as usual.
It didn't occur to me when I read Asimov years ago, but I finally "got" the significance of Dr. Calvin's name... John Calvin was a theologian of the reformation who argued that humans are pre-destined by God, and therefore do not have free will. Asimov's Dr. Calvin believes that the three laws of robotics make it impossible for a robot to have their own free will, and in a sense pre-destines their fate with humanity. Oh well, enough philosophy for a simple movie review. You'll have to see the movie if you want to know more.
The DVD also comes w/ some nice featurettes on the making of the movie, cast & director interviews, the writings of Asimov on robots, and various other of the usual things the studio throws in whenever they have some space left over on the disc.
My final recommendation is: five stars for the movie, and four stars for the supplemental material and packaging. This will make a great Christmas present for that sci-fi fan in your family.
on March 26, 2013
My brother is in his mid-60's and very hard to buy gifts for. He said the 3D effects on the movie were great. He thought the movie might be too graphic and bloody, but said it was totally enjoyable with lots of action. Since my brother is a man of few words, this was high praise indeed! A successful gift!
on October 25, 2015
I saw this in theaters with my sister when it came out and I still think it's a really cool sci-fi movie.A very good sci-fi movie, with very good everything and Will Smith kicking robot ass!!! A good recommendation for action and sci-fi movie fans. A tiny bit of mystery in it too.
Several of my favorite actors are featured in this futuristic movie which I have enjoyed watching mainly for the amazing special effects. Whether I'm watching on a standard screen or use my Blu-ray play disc player to up-convert it to near HD, I find this movie visually satisfying.
on October 13, 2013
The 3D version of this movie is not particularly amazing. The 3D is not very punchy and the 3D is mostly limited to the displacement of space behind the TV and not the space between the TV and the viewer, though even the deep space doesn't often seem magnified to any great degree. There are a few instances when shards of glass seem to blow out into the viewers space, but other than that don't expect much 3D effects in front of the screen. I found the 3D on movies like Dredd, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Resident Evil: Retribution, Prometheus, or The Avengers to be much more thrilling to watch. If one has enhancements on their TV to exaggerate the 3D then this helps somewhat but still it doesn't come close to comparing with some of the other films I've mentioned. The aspect ratio on this film is such that it does fill the whole screen so that is a plus. The movie itself is also well done, but if one already has it on blu-ray then one might not find it worth upgrading to 3D.