Review by Gordon Justesen
Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, Bruce Greenwood, James Cromwell, Chi McBride, Alan
Director: Alex Proyas
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1, French Dolby Surround, Spanish Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 115 Minutes
Release Date: May 24, 2005
mainstream Hollywood releases, let alone those in the science fiction genre,
hardly ever seem to match entertainment with a high level of intelligence. Not
only is I, Robot one of the year’s
biggest surprises, but it’s easily the single best sci-fi pic to come around
since Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report
more than two years ago. Going into the movie, I expected a good level of
entertainment and loads of visual effects, but I never expected anything like
the issues raised in the movie.
movie is a prime example of how visuals and story can blend together to make a
masterful piece of cinematic work. It helps a lot when the director is Alex
Proyas, the visually gifted director of The
Crow and Dark City. There’s no
question that this was Proyas’ biggest production yet, but he knew exactly how
to put the huge budget to terrific use.
admires of the original novels by the great Isaac Asimov, I wouldn’t go so far
as to say that this is a faithful adaptation. At the same time, those who
cherished these short stories should be anything but disappointed by the way
screenwriters Jeff Vintar and Akiva Goldsmith have adapted the material. I,
myself, have never read the original books, but I can tell you that this film
carries with it many themes that fans of science fiction, such as myself, are
bound to admire.
story is set in a visually stunning vision of Chicago in the year 2035. In this
particular future, robots have become a vital resource for everyday use by
humans. They can cook, clean dishes, clean the house, and just about everything
upon request. The world’s leading technology corporation, U.S. Robotics, is on
the eve of distributing the newly designed NS-5 robot, the most elite of its
I-A robot may not injure another human being or, through inaction, allow another
human being to come to harm.
story’s human center is Del Spooner (Will Smith), a city detective who is dead
set against anything having to do with robots. Spooner sees them as nothing but
potential danger for humans. His prejudices against the machines find their way
into Spooner’s latest murder investigation, where in which he suspects a robot
of committing the murder.
murder victim is the renowned Dr. Alfred Lanning (James Cromwell), the head of
robotic research at U.S. Robotics. Though given the appearance of a suicide,
Spooner doesn’t hesitate on giving his suspicions a rest. When inspecting
around the crime scene, he discovers an NS-5 robot hiding in the shadows.
Despite seeming more frightened than suspicious, the robot is taken into custody
after eluding authorities.
robot, named Sonny (Alan Tudyk), maintains that Dr. Lanning’s death was
suicidal. He reveals to Spooner that prior to the death, the doctor was teaching
him to adapt human emotions. Spooner feels that is what precisely led to the
murder, suspecting the adapting of emotions got out of hand. The interrogation
scene between Spooner and Sonny is one of the most riveting portions of the
movie, as Sonny displays unique curiosity of human behavior.
first fascinating element of I, Robot
is the amazing performance of actor Alan Tudyk as Sonny. Tudyk, most recently
seen as Steve the Pirate in Dodgeball,
delivers a virtual performance that not only deserves Academy Award recognition,
but is also on par with that of Gollum from Lord of the Rings. Tudyk underwent the exact same procedure as Andy
Serkis did for Gollum, and each mannerism and emotion has been transferred to
create a one of a kind virtual character that you really do end up caring for
throughout the movie.
II-A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings except where such orders
would conflict with the first law.
movie also serves a reminder that despite being obviously entertaining presence,
Will Smith is a strong actor. This is an outstanding performance that ranks with
his turn in Ali. He has both the great
one liners, but this time around opens up great depth, especially during a scene
where Spooner’s reason for disliking robots is revealed, which is a truly
as for the use of visual effects, I, Robot
demonstrates that while most big budget movies dish out effects just to show
off, that there are movies that can take effects and have them serve a useful
purpose, like in Minority Report and The Chronicles of Riddick. Alex Proyas and
his effects crew have done a marvelous job in creating a movie environment where
you forget that you’re looking at a visual effect.
vision of Chicago in 2035 is magnificently realized, with something going on in
nearly every frame for the eyes to gaze upon. The robots have been extremely
well designed, and the automobiles used in the future have never looked cooler.
To put it simply, I, Robot contains
some of the best usage of CGI effects work you will ever see in a single movie.
It’s one to rank amongst the likes of Star
Wars, The Matrix and Lord of the Rings.
with the innovative effects work, Proyas knows how to execute marvelous action
scenes that treat the senses to something really exciting. He did this in Dark City, and he’s done it once again here with some jaw dropping
sequences. One sequence has Spooner having his car attacked by menacing robots
on a freeway. The second is a scene where an army of robots flood the city
streets ordering humans to abide new laws. The third is a climatic shootout,
where in which Proyas applies ingenious camera techniques that will blow you
away, making it something of an original type of action sequence.
III-A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not
conflict with the First or Second Law.
you think about it, it’s kind of impossible to label a film as being both
knockout entertainment and thought provoking. I,
Robot is a monumental combination of the two. With effects that will really
impress, a virtual performance for the history books from Alan Tudyk, a powerful
turn from Will Smith, and an amazing vision courtesy of Alex Proyas, this is
quite simply one of the best science fiction movies to come around in ages.
is one of those movies that was simply meant for DVD, and Fox’s handling of
the picture quality is nothing short of visual brilliance. The anamorphic
picture enhances the futuristic setting and makes it even more incredible to
look at. Every inch of effects work applied to this movie looks fantastic and
better than ever in this format. Picture clarity is amazing and consistent,
colors are strong and natural, and the overall detail is quite simply amazing.
5.1 mix, as well as the DTS, is among the best ever provided by the folks at
Fox. There isn’t a single moment where the presence of dynamic audio is felt,
no matter how subtle a scene might be. But when the action and effects kick in,
watch out because the result is that of pure thunderous surround sound, and the
kind that can only be experienced when watching a movie like this. Words can’t
describe it; it’s one you simply have to see (or hear) for yourselves.
was hoping that Fox would come through with a proper upgraded release.
Thankfully, my wish was granted with this new 2-Disc All Access Collector’s
One includes the commentary from Alex Proyas and Akiva Goldsmith that was
included on the original release, as well as two additional commentary tracks;
one with composer Marco Beltrami, the other with production designer Patrick
Tatopoulos, editor Richard Learoyd and the Visual Effects Team.
Two includes even more, adding up to a
4-Hour Multi-faceted Movie
Exploration for an Unprecedented Interactive Look at the World of I, Robot.
Featured is "Days Out of Days" (Production Diaries), "CGI and
Design" (Featurettes), "Sentient Machines" (Robotic Behavior),
"Three Laws Safe" (Conversations About Science Fiction and Robots),
"The Filmmaker's Toolbox" (VFX How-To Clips), and Deleted
menu screens are also something of an original!