Reviews: I Robot

My favourite Will Smith movie

Two years ago, I had to write an essay about a comparison of two science fiction movies. One was "Dark City" and the other "I, Robot". I liked both movies, but I much preferred "I, Robot" of the two. In fact, I liked it so much that I kept watching it even after I finished the essay.

My favourite thing about the movie is easily the lead character. Del Spooner is warm-hearted, humorously snarky and very easy to relate to. His hatred of humanity's laziness and hyper-exploitation of technology and robotics is easy to agree with, but what I like about him especially is how he doesn't hate all technology, he just wishes humans could be less dependent on it and do more with their lives. And being a cynical guy myself, it's always funny to hear him complain about this. Some of he best parts of the movie are when he's badmouthing robots: "So robots building robots? Now that's just stupid!"

So, the lead character's great, but what about the rest of the movie? It's also great. The story is clever, multi-layered, engaging, fascinating and is never afraid to be comical. And when isn't being silly or comedic, it's brilliantly gripping and dramatic, with strong thrills and intense scenes of action. It even includes a pretty dark and haunting back-story for Spooner involving the disturbing death of an innocent child that reveals why he vehemently detests robots to such a degree.

As well as including likable characters like Spooner, Calvin and the sweet-natured, self-aware robot Sonny, I, Robot also has plenty of strong special effects, sets and impressively detailed skyline shots. And thankfully, the eye candy doesn't distract from the movie, it instead substantially enhances it. In fact, the special effects are so interesting at times that they make you think. What if the world really will be this intricately mechanical and technological in the future? It could actually happen - considering just how hugely complex technology already is now in 2015.

My only problem with the movie is the cliffhanger ending. I'm not really sure what it's meant to imply. But apart from a couple of less interesting scenes, I can't make any other nitpicks. With a top-notch performance from Will Smith and the supporting cast, brilliant effects, loads of memorable scenes, an intriguing story and plenty of humour to balance it out, "I, Robot" is a winner.

A thoroughly enjoyable science fiction action/mystery film.

There are two bones of contention I can see for people who hate this film: that it is not really an adaptation of the novel it is named for, and that it features several comically-terrible bits of Product Placement.

Well, I sincerely sympathize if that's enough to ruin a pretty good movie for you.

The mystery is well-written and plays fair with the audience, the characters are uniformly more-complex than they appear at first glance (Spooner in particular is much deeper than his initial characterization would suggest), and the action is actually pretty badass. Will Smith is his usual Will-Smith-y self, which means, good with the bad, he brings in a lot of charisma and acting ability alongside the script-doctor that Will-Smiths up the dialogue, and Alan Tudyk steals the show as the self-aware robot hero Sonny.

Because this film has made almost no attempt to adapt, it would be thoroughly unfair to examine it as an adaptation. But, it still comes up with some interesting scenarios involving the Three Laws, most notably the source of Spooner's trauma. And it has at least a little sci-fi cred in terms of predicting the "iPoditzation" of the future years before it became sci-fi chic to do so.

While it may not be the same kind of thoughtful sci-fi as the original novel, it's worth noting that Asimov saw and loved the original Star Wars. Being a fun popcorn movie doesn't preclude this film from being good, nor does the introduction of crazy action set-piece battles stop the film from having slower, more-intellectual moments during its runtime.