OFC title

I, Robot

Directed by Alex Proyas

iRobot or I, Robot?Right out of the blocks - first scene - I, Robot gives us a shameless piece of product placement - Converse All-Stars - as our hero Del Spooner (Will Smith) gets dressed for a day of police work in 2035. The visual look of the future - and I'm talking about the production design, the look of the robots, etc. - is one of only a couple that seem to dominate all recent sci-fi movies. The look of I, Robot is almost identical to 2002's Minority Report. Both are good looking movies but if one is going to spend millions on sets, costumes, and special effects on a movie set in the future why not be more original? The robots themselves (the new-model, evil bots) look like blue-eyed humanoid iMacs. Although I would have gone in a completely different direction, the eyes of the main robot ("played" by Alan Tudyk) were impressive - they communicated a gentle empathetic personality - almost as if the engineers programmed "feeling" and overdid it a bit. I don't know if Apple Computer should be angry or flattered but the look of their products was definitely ripped off to make this movie - at least they didn't have the nerve to call it iRobot. Also on the subject of originality - or lack of - why did they have to make the robots in human form? Why not make them look like the new robotic vacuum cleaners (which look like thick Frisbees and push the dirt around more that pick it up)? That would be more fun than a bunch of humanoid iMacs.

Will and da BotAs disappointing as it is as science fiction, I, Robot does work as a snap, crackling summer action flick. There's plenty of fighting, chasing, and exploding. The cast -- Bridget Moynahan costars as psychiatrist Susan Calvin -- does a pretty good job of generating dramatic urgency (stopping the evil robots and saving the human race - yeah, yeah, yeah). The script (Jeff Vintar who also wrote that classic baddie Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within - worst movie of 2001 - I, Robot is a big improvement) has about every cliché in the book - do they always have to have a scene where the superior officer takes away our hero's badge? A couple of the action scenes are noteworthy: Will Smith is in a mansion when a giant combat robot goes postal and tears the place apart. My favorite is when an army of the bad robots first attack the older-version robots (who looked cooler than the new ones - like C3PO from Star Wars but with bad skin) and then take on the population of Chicago - who just happen to be congregating in the streets at night waiting to be attacked.

Sci-fi LiteIf all of that isn't enough, the film had a real "When Did I Die" moment -- I won't reveal it - I'll just say that it's an explanation, by the head robot, of why this robot rebellion took place. The speech is so stupid that even given the genre, I can't believe that they put it in. Director Alex Proyas has done some very good work - notably 1994's The Crow - I don't know how he could let a cinematic turd like that - just the speech not the whole movie -- go out under his name. Maybe I'm being too critical but compared to Spider-Man 2 - definitely a movie competing for the same young, male audience - I, Robot shorts out.

Images are copyright 20th Century Fox.

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