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Overall Rating

Awesome: 9.41%
Worth A Look: 23.76%
Just Average34.16%
Pretty Crappy: 22.77%
Sucks: 9.9%

11 reviews, 136 user ratings

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I, Robot
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by Mel Valentin

"Asimov fans look away; it's strictly for Will Smith fans."
3 stars

Law I / A robot may not harm a human or, by inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. Law II / A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the first law. Law III / A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first or second law.

When a lead character in the latest Hollywood science-fiction/adventure entry is given an implausible (if generic) name, “Del Spooner” (Will Smith, in another iteration of the non-standard Smith persona, complete with the anti-authoritarian streak and the repetitive expression of mild profanities meant to pass as “edgy and “hip” for urban audiences), the audience is immediately led into a sense of unease and discomfort. The lack of imagination displayed in the choice of the main character’s name is symptomatic of something deeper at play in I, Robot (“inspired” by Isaac Asimov’s similarly titled collection of science-fiction short stories): a generic, tensionless product that saves its imagination for the production design and the CGI-driven set pieces (albeit overly reminiscent of the flawed, but still superior, Minority Report), and leaves little imagination for the predictable plotting, characterizations, (minimal) character development, and plot turns.

Del Spooner is a Chicago police detective, circa 2035 C.E., with a deeply ingrained Neo-Luddite attitude for the service-oriented robots that have infiltrated contemporary society. Per the “formula” for science-fiction films with a detective protagonist, Spooner is haunted by "survivor's guilt," and his attitude toward the robots are inevitably, predictably tied to a personal trauma (the film opens with a dream-centered recreation of his experience).The robots, created by a single, monopolistic manufacturer, USR, run by the Bill Gates clone, Lawrence Robertson (played with little distinction by Bruce Greenwood in a “paycheck” role). Robertson is, of course, the early, visible villain, but given his obviousness, the audience can expect a third-act plot turn that will reveal a hidden antagonist behind the threats to Spooner’s life. Robertson and U.S. Robotics (USR) are on the brink of the largest rollout of an advanced model, the NS-5, into the consumer market, with the stated (and repeated) goal of creating a ratio of one advanced robot to every five humans. The rollout, of course, is threatened by the first plot complication: USR’s chief robot designer, Dr. Alfred Lansing (James Cromwell), dies in the film’s opening minutes. Apparent suicide or murdered by an advanced NS-5 robot who appears to have developed emotions and a unique personality? Answering that question becomes the impetus for Spooner to investigate the connection between USR and the designer’s death.

The investigation naturally leads the introduction of the female lead (romantic interest would probably be an overstatement here), Susan Calvin (Bridget Moynahan), a scientist working on cognitive (and emotional) development, specifically with robots and their potential to move beyond merely simulating human consciousness, who assists Spooner with his work (and serves as a source of exposition for the audience). Their relationship is initially fraught with conflict, tension, and misunderstanding. It’s no surprise then that the narrative inevitably leads to a close collaboration between the two characters and, eventually, romantic (but chaste) attachment. Alas, given the budget involved and Hollywood’s tendency to play it safe where summer blockbusters are involved, the hints at an interracial romance (which flares up into physical contact only once) is left unresolved; the film reneges on the promise of the relationship, by leaving the characters separated by physical space in their final, underwritten scene together.

The special effects in I, Robot work best as background to the action and the human characters (i.e., as a showcase for extrapolating future technology, specifically through buildings, landscapes, and transportation), while failing to create a suspension of disbelief in the action set pieces that are injected into the film at periodic intervals when the pacing threatens to lag. The robots in the set pieces simply do not appear to share the same physical space as the human actors. They lack the weight, the volume, and the solidity that comes with the effects of gravity on animate and inanimate objects. In addition, 20-Century Fox’s marketing department chose to include highlights from every major set piece in the film in the full-length trailer and TV-commercials. Why not leave at least one of the set pieces unseen, to give audiences something original and surprising?

Anyone with a general knowledge of American science fiction films from the last thirty-five to forty years can easily ascertain the “inspiration” (or rather "inspirations") for I, Robot’s major plot points: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Colossus: The Forbin Project (1971), Tron (1982), and Wargames (1983). There’s even an obvious reference to a campy 1970s television series: The Six Million Dollar Man. Of the four films, only 2001: A Space Odyssey is considered “classic” science fiction; the others are contain some interesting, if undeveloped ideas about artificial intelligence and the evolution of machines. In our post-modern era, it’s perfectly acceptable to “lift” ideas wholesale from films not considered part of the science-fiction canon (e.g., the enormous mainframe computers that control's the United States' nuclear arsenal in Colossus: The Forbin Project and Wargames) but without taking those ideas further and exploring them in any depth (which, arguably, would have interfered with the pacing of the main plotline), the audience for I, Robot will leave the air-conditioned movie theater superficially entertained and nothing more.

Certainly, expecting anything else from a big-budget Hollywood film is likely to lead to disappointment at worst, indifference at best. The filmmakers behind I, Robot simply preferred to raise and ultimately leave unanswered questions about artificial intelligence, the nascent self-awareness of machines created to serve humankind, and the consequent ethical dilemma; with sentience comes the “spark” of humanity (referenced by Dr. Lansing, via video file, as the “ghost in the machine”). What ultimately separates humans from machines isn't rationality, but emotion (or so I, Robot argues). Once, however, that emotion is authentically generated, the distinction between human and machine becomes not just indefensible, but meaningless.

However self-awareness is defined, however, it inevitably leads to the issue of what rights and liberties should be given to those self-aware machines. "I, Robot" doesn’t attempt to answer that question in anything but a perfunctory manner, but, to its credit, the director (Alex Proyas) and the screenwriters (Jeff Vintar and Akiva Goldsman) end the film not with Spooner and Calvin’s characters in their non-embrace, but in an ambiguous scene with Sonny, the self-aware robot initially accused of the designer’s murder. It’s a scene that hints at "I, Robot’s" unfulfilled potential.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=10202&reviewer=402
originally posted: 05/27/05 20:22:53
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User Comments

3/24/18 morris campbell not bad some good effects 4 stars
10/06/16 BillyBobJones itwas k fam 5 stars
12/03/14 Ayana Pendergrass I Robot captivates me each time I watch! Great movie 5 stars
1/18/12 Marc DC Not a big W. Smith fan, but this was surprisingly one of his best. 4 stars
11/17/10 warmpotato Bleh. The script makes little sense, and Will Smith was horribly miscast. 2 stars
11/11/10 AlleyPhern If Will Smith was not in it, I would have given it 3 stars instead 2 stars
7/11/09 the dork knight Cromwell deserves a bigger role than that of a creepy hologram, but ok. 4 stars
8/11/08 Shaun Wallner Started off Great but then it started to drag on. 2 stars
12/19/07 Pamela White could be better 3 stars
11/17/07 Tee Not great, but Will smith is always watchable. Effects are good. 3 stars
10/14/07 fools♫gold If it's Alex Proyas, it must be somewhat good... 4 stars
8/21/07 movie crazed ok movie, worth a look though the plot seemed to be kinda confusing 4 stars
7/11/07 MaDmAN I actually liked this movie, you'll watch it, then forget it, but it's entertaining 4 stars
4/01/07 R.W.Welch Overblown in places but not bad overall. Smith shows the right touch. 3 stars
3/19/07 Stanley Thai Overly a good popcorn entertainment 4 stars
3/07/07 man good movie 4 stars
3/04/07 Bitchflaps Will Smith is irritating, Moynahan is deadwood, can't think of anything I liked about it. 1 stars
11/10/06 Henry fucking bullshit 1 stars
9/11/06 Charles Tatum Nicely updated, Smith is lots of fun 4 stars
8/26/06 Claaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiirrrrrrreeeeeeee!!!!!! This movie is sooo boring and horrible! had to watch it for robotics! 1 stars
8/09/06 Dragon The Artist Another medieocre popcorn flick; just good enough to follow n' watch. 3 stars
7/02/06 MikeT Would have like it to be more meaningful, but is great as an action flick. 4 stars
6/19/06 Carol Baker pretty good for animated cartoon. Had good 3 D look. 4 stars
5/30/06 Wanker Should have won all the Golden Globe awards for bad movie. 1 stars
5/26/06 YYY Acting and dialogue are so bad 2 stars
4/03/06 okierazorbacker Remarkably dumb but looks great in a sanitized, videogame kind of way 3 stars
4/01/06 JRE just good 4 stars
2/06/06 Anthony A Great Sci-Fi movie 4 stars
1/03/06 Steve Newman An enjoyable couple of hours watching this film - its ok 4 stars
10/10/05 Quigley I love this movie. awesome sci-fi story and CG, robots were stunning, smith was funny. see 5 stars
10/03/05 Sully blah 3 stars
9/26/05 millersxing Chi-town 2035 is 2 stars
9/21/05 Jonathon Holmes fun from start to finish 4 stars
9/13/05 bbbr shit, kiss my ass 1 stars
8/31/05 ES Not as bad as was thought, cool FX, but the trailers gave too much away 3 stars
8/07/05 glabber Not bad, not great, just average in every department, except FX 3 stars
8/07/05 fnia fleissig I love will smith, but this film was turgid and pointless 2 stars
7/26/05 Malaka Waste of time, waste of effort, waste of Fucking money, what was smith thinking? 1 stars
7/25/05 Eric Rollins Robots too creepy looking to be sympathetic. Sort of like Will Smith. 3 stars
7/10/05 slanes Enjoyed the movie, held my interest, good special effects, and Will Smith is great. 4 stars
7/02/05 Charlie Great Special Effects, And An Interesting Idea. 4 stars
6/20/05 tony Great adventure movie both for kids and adults. You all will love it! 4 stars
6/14/05 Quigley one of the best sci-fi flicks ever birthed. the robots are so awesome. gotta see it! 5 stars
6/07/05 Darcy average interpretation of a complex story 4 stars
6/04/05 Denise Gannon even Will Smith is getting tired of acting like Will Smith... where's Blade Runner 2? 1 stars
5/18/05 CB Cool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
5/01/05 Valerie Excellent Movie, Excellent Special Effects 5 stars
4/23/05 Quigley some of the most stunning visual effects ever seen makes this better than The Matrix 5 stars
4/14/05 Indrid Cold CGI and Matrix-style slomo has long since ceased to amaze, and a dull plot can't save it. 3 stars
3/24/05 Mel Gibson AW HELL NAWWWWW!!! 4 stars
3/14/05 albert VERY GOOD MOVIE 5 stars
2/04/05 Valerie White interesting 3 stars
2/04/05 LilyM Forgettable; didn't deliver on story or action. 3 stars
2/01/05 lisa w It was better than the previews made it look. Lots of cool special effects too 4 stars
1/27/05 Jack Scallops Great action, needs a better script though 4 stars
1/27/05 New Jersey Rules Fun ass shit. 4 stars
1/11/05 Ron Newbold I don't think Issac Asimov would have envisioned I, Robot quite like this 3 stars
1/11/05 HL Dumb, But Visually Great..So, Do the Dube and Watch it! 5 stars
12/30/04 Tjalda L. Schiel Wowza special effects. Who cares if the plot is a mess. 4 stars
12/27/04 Samuel it's okay, nothing special... 3 stars
12/22/04 farnqwo product placement & dumbass plot 1 stars
12/20/04 axtion movie fan man vs robots\\great f/x in exciting sci/fi one of 2004's better films 4 stars
12/04/04 jonny boy cmon it wasnt that bad(look at the matrix sequels lmao) 3 stars
11/21/04 ad pretty scenery 4 stars
11/14/04 keithers.. How many times has this plot been done....to many to count 2 stars
11/11/04 Andrea yawn...boring, boring...boring. Will Smith NOT BELIEVABLE! 2 stars
11/09/04 Dan Van Zan Awesome Action Sequences manage to hold the movie inspite of a weak storyline 4 stars
11/04/04 Duncan yes Will unbutton the shirt and go back to action, Ali didnt get you the oscar 1 stars
9/15/04 TeeJay Terrible. And I will never be able to wear black Converse again. 1 stars
9/06/04 Ame blower ITS TOTAL SHIT 1 stars
8/30/04 The Predator watchable, good entertainment, it was ok 3 stars
8/28/04 HitmanThomas Better then I thought it would be 4 stars
8/27/04 Tristynn Sonny stole the show. I was pleasantly surprised by this movie...very original. 5 stars
8/25/04 Littlepurch Wel I loved it.As a fan of Minority Report,I feel this is a clever tribute with gr8 action! 5 stars
8/23/04 Sam Was expecting a good Sci-Fi Movie...not as mentioned, Black Vs. White. 1 stars
8/20/04 S.F Enjoyable. Haven't read the book. Kinda like the fact that it actually had a storyline! 4 stars
8/17/04 Destiny Pifer Good sci-fi flick will smith did a good job 4 stars
8/16/04 khurshid I kindda like it, need some love scene between spooner and Dr.calvin 4 stars
8/15/04 Peter James Excellent CGI, but is that really what the world will look like in thirty years...no way 3 stars
8/13/04 Obi Wan Good Summer Fun! Wasn't bad. CGI was very good and the film did move 4 stars
8/13/04 David Rare. I enjoyed it. 5 stars
8/11/04 Simon Khalil The perfect mix of action, comedy, and futuristic technology 4 stars
8/10/04 Clayton Smith The ending was a shocker, why return the robot army back to unlocked containers outside the 3 stars
8/10/04 Anthony G I sure want to buy some CONVERSE 2004, AND HAVE THEM SHIPPED FROM FED EX 1 stars
8/08/04 Jim Good stuff. Robots most compelling characters though! 4 stars
8/05/04 Mix Master Mason Will Smith has played this same painful character in every movie he's been in. Will sucks! 1 stars
8/03/04 Michael Very interesting, eye-popping, glad i didn't read books first... I would pay full price! 5 stars
8/02/04 P.Rodriguez Avoid like the plague. 1 stars
8/01/04 SIr Spam-a-lot Better than I expected (thought kinda simlar to ANIMATRIX: THE RENAISSANCE PART 1) 3 stars
8/01/04 Rocky Swarming killer robots made Will Smith barely tolerable for once 4 stars
7/30/04 alien assassin much better than "Bicentennial Man", but a long way behind "Blade Runner" 4 stars
7/28/04 michaelb14 a little less of the will smith persona would have been better but still... 4 stars
7/28/04 Zefram Mann Fairly intelligent story. Good effects. If you don't hate Smith, you'll probably like this. 4 stars
7/27/04 Mike Devans Average.. give it a whirl 3 stars
7/27/04 toonz not bad 4 stars
7/25/04 Agent Sands 10, 15 times better than I thought it would be. Really smart & fun. 5 stars
7/25/04 othree 2035? my ass, crappy story, Will looks buff, a DVD renter! 3 stars
7/25/04 M The fresh prince still cant act and he might have great abs, worth a look though. 3 stars
7/25/04 Pure RAGE... It was pretty good and the Max Payne styled shootouts were great! 5 stars
7/25/04 Nikolai The epilogue blended well with the screaming fat ladies and Ford van swiping me homebound 3 stars
7/23/04 buddy garrett No inspiration for this movie 1 stars
7/23/04 E Loved it. Real fun movie! 5 stars
7/22/04 malcolm basically a 2nd rate Blade Runner, and Smith is no Harrison Ford, still fun though 4 stars
7/22/04 Frink If you've seen one Will Smith action movie, you've seen them all... 3 stars
7/21/04 Virginia Clarke Exciting and frightening, itt made me think about the risks of artificial intelligence. 5 stars
7/21/04 ad it's actually ok - spectacular enough 4 stars
7/21/04 Nobody Laura- I hate to break it to you but Asimov has been dead for over 10 years. 4 stars
7/21/04 Kristina Sucked harder than two gays at an Nsync concert. 1 stars
7/20/04 Northerly Who's 85yo. sarcastro is very desperate 3 stars
7/20/04 Roy Again 99% Will Smith, 1% Asimov. And it's Wild Wild West/MIB 2 Smith at that. 3 stars
7/20/04 April Gupton i'll pass on this one 3 stars
7/20/04 Laura Shangraw Not worth my time 2 stars
7/20/04 Rkm Lame, lacking in depth like all Smith's films 1 stars
7/20/04 Travis Shotwell obviously the story of TRON.will smith=FLYNN, sonny=TRON,big computer=MCP, ownerguy=SARK. 4 stars
7/19/04 Northerly Northerly 3 Sunline 0 Pinkline has no clue 3 stars
7/19/04 Maz Fun romp, nothing new, but deeper (if you look) than a regular summer movie 5 stars
7/19/04 N. Christopher Bell The only people who won't like this movie are going to be the Star Trek Faggots. 4 stars
7/19/04 herkos akhaion Can you spell Recycled? SOS! 3 stars
7/19/04 doug r If anybody remembers all the robot stories, this movie pretty much covers all the bases... 4 stars
7/18/04 Rocky Entertaining, cool themes 4 stars
7/18/04 Titus Not the best thing ever, but a good fun movie. Smith has grown up. 4 stars
7/18/04 peel umm...i liked it. and you guys cant review movies worth shit...or something 5 stars
7/18/04 Cassandra Farrar over the top 2 stars
7/17/04 JDC cliched even for an action pic 2 stars
7/17/04 ajay typical actiion flick... I can't wait to read the book which WILL be miles better. 3 stars
7/17/04 Exhosinmyhead Fun movie to watch. Dont get caught up in all the technicalities. Good. 4 stars
7/17/04 KingNeutron The people who wrote this movie should be shot. Stop insulting and twisting Asimov. 2 stars
7/17/04 The Talking Elbow "Grishnakh" ?? Are you from Shadowclan Orcs? Email me epochii@aol.com 3 stars
7/17/04 Grishnakh Will Smith + Sci-Fi = Garbage / MiB, ID4, SUCKED ! I, Robot is a complete insult to Asimov. 1 stars
7/17/04 Onyeabo Monago Didn't like the movie. Lots of cgi, cliche storyline. 1 stars
7/17/04 legend The movie is an insult to the book! It was bad. 2 stars
7/17/04 Rocky I enjoyed it, nice visuals, entertaining, kinda' hokey, .not GREATjust GOOD 3 stars
7/16/04 Alex ¿¿¿¿???? 2 stars
7/16/04 Amerigo Vespukey Could have been social commentary. Instead, crap. Boooooo. 2 stars
7/16/04 Richard A two hour shoe commercial - do you have your Concords now? 3 stars
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  16-Jul-2004 (PG-13)
  DVD: 24-May-2005



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