I, Robot (2004)

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“I, Robot” is very, very loosely based on Asimov’s concept and stories, and, as much as I wanted to, I didn’t hate it. As a matter of fact, I had a real blast. The first point this had up for it was the fact it was directed Alex Proyas, Proyas is the director of two of my favorite films of the past fifteen years, the first one being the imaginative and beautifully morbid film “Dark City”, and one of my favorite films of all time “The Crow” a marvelous ode to the legacy of Brandon Lee, one of my film icons. Proyas is one great underrated director and he puts his skills to work in this wild and fun but still thought-provoking film. Will Smith plays Dell Spooner, an officer for the now futuristic Chicago who despises robots. The problem with his hatred for them is that they’re everywhere now under servitude as tools for humans like a utensil.

His friend Alfred Lanning is found dead one night having committed suicide by jumping out a window. Lanning is a respected scientist who basically revolutionized the robots the NS units and his death is dismissed as suicide, but Spooner has other suspicions that perhaps the death was not a suicide but caused by one of Lanning’s units. It’s impossible, seeing as the laws of robotics forbid it. Spooner doesn’t buy the fact these robots must obey these laws and insists that laws are meant to be broken. There’s a prime suspect in the case, a robot unit named Sonny (Alan Tudyk), Lanning’s personal unit who is on the run from the law and denies he took place in Lanning’s murder. But with clues being left from Lanning after his death, attempts of death on Spooner, and evidence slowly piling up, perhaps Spooner may not be wrong after all. Proyas is such a good director and here he proves it (he already proved it in the aforementioned movies) with his incredible camera angles including the wild views from the eyes of the robots and the great action sequences.

The robots in the film, the NS5’s are robots that slowly resemble humans to a frightening degree, and though they look like mannequins, they’re actually pretty threatening. Smith and Moynahan, a scientist who helps Spooner decode the mystery, are good here and I actually gave a squat whether or not their mystery would unfold. Proyas pulls off some very good sequences here including the human-robot war, the chases, the actual robots within themselves who are just visually appealing, and one of the coolest sequences in which Spooner attempts to weed our Sonny from a barrage of NS5’s. The character Sonny truly is a unique character in the movie who serves as the tension catalyst. Played by Alan Tudyk of “Firefly” fame, Sonny becomes one of the highlights of the movie with a genuine likable presence amidst the two leads who, themselves, are a lot of fun to watch.

The movie has a lot of appeal and genuine fun scenes and action, along with a thought provoking story about robots and artificial intelligence and its ability to form real intelligence and inhabit human emotions, something that great science fiction writers like Asimov formed. All the while, the fact that Proyas gives brisk and beautiful direction sealed the deal for me with this movie and I was pleasantly surprised by the end result. It’s Will Smith, and robots, It’s will smith as a cop, and robots, It’s Will Smith popping one-liners, and robots. Did I mention it’s Will Smith?! That’s the primary advertising campaign for this movie and it’s the basis for such a film. It’s sad because Smith plays Smith as he always does in every movie. Is he a good actor? Sure, he’s good, but who cares when you’re playing the same guy over and over? He’s the same sly, slick, charming, confident guy who approaches every situation with a cool head.

I never once saw him hesitate as a character in one of his movies and it’s basically annoying to watch the movie center so squarely on him and his one-liners that are not amusing. I dare you to point a difference between his character here and in “Bad Boys” other than the time difference. Despite the fact Will Smith plays Will Smith as he always does “I, Robot” sure is a lot of fun with excellent direction, great characters, and a great climax.