I, Robot

Detective Spooner (Will Smith) hates technology generally and robots specifically. In 2035, he immerses himself in vintage clothes, “antique” furnishings, and “oldies” music (most of which is from the 80s). When a brilliant robotics scientist (James Cromwell) is killed, and a robot is the apparent suspect, Spooner is either the worst man for the job, or the best.

Sonny (Alan Tudyk) is the homicidal robot in question, and this murder investigation is immediately making waves. Lawrence Robertson (Bruce Greenwood) is particularly motivated to cover up the crime. Robots are subject to 3 ironclad laws that should make harming a human impossible. Robertson’s company is about to inundate the market with robots for personal use. If the public gets whiff of this, it would destroy their appetite for keeping robots in their homes (understandably). So Robertson’s trying to put a lid on this thing, Spooner’s trying to blow the lid off it, and the hordes of robots are starting to feel more and more sinister.

I, Robot is inspired by the work of Isaac Asimov, a sci-fi writer with a curious and probing mind. He teases out the possibilities and then follows them to their logical, if uncomfortable conclusion. The movie is full of flashy embellishments that of course already look dated. 2004’s vision of 2035 already looks pretty shitty to us folk in 2019. Its original script (then called Hardwired) was a lot more Asimov, but once Will Smith came on board, it was quickly converted into yet another summer blockbuster in which Smith saves the world – with jokes inserted that even Will Smith found dubious. Anyway, it’s been robbed of the subversive Asimov element and turned into 96% action and 4% sci-fi, which, for the record, is officially the saddest ratio in the world. It’s like director Alex Proyas shoved in so many self-driving cars and futuristic guns that the brain just fell out. No room at the inn for critical thought or Important Questions or lingering doubt. Just expensive destruction and robots with unnerving eyes.

It’s not just the role Will Smith was born to play, it’s the role Will Smith has already played literally half a dozen times. He’s quite good at it – the chip on the shoulder, the slow-motion last minute saves. It’s rote, but it has a nice gloss on it. Nobody’s bothering to dig underneath the surface in this film, but it’s decent entertainment if you’re just looking for an excuse to shovel popcorn into face.

Fun Facts

The motorcycle that Smith rides in the movie is a 2004 MV Agusta F4-SPR, one of only 300 produced worldwide, capable of reaching in excess of 175 mph. He wrecked it during filming.

Will Wheaton and Emilion Estevez both tried out to play Sonny (the robot).

The most expensive CGI shot in the whole movie is when they digitally removed Will Smith’s penis from the shower scenes when producers suddenly got cold feet.

16 thoughts on “I, Robot

  1. Wendell Ottley

    I’m in a weird place with this one, I suppose. I recognize it has all the flaws you mention, but it’s one of those movies I can throw on any time and just…yeah…shovel popcorn into my face and enjoy.

    THAT’S the most expensive shot? Is Will or Jada more proud of that fact?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Orca Flotta

    “Isaac Asimov, a sci-fi writer with a curious and probing mind.”
    Ya, right. But also a rather shitty writer (and that’s coming from an ESLer) who wasn’t a joy to read.

    “96% action and 4% sci-fi, which, for the record, is officially the saddest ratio in the world.”
    Jay, in the form of her life, delivers the most quotable quote of the year.

    “they digitally removed Will Smithโ€™s penis from the shower scenes when producers suddenly got cold feet.”
    Typical inconsequential and cowardish H-wood is the reason why nobody wants to watch their shitty products anymore. And anyway, they could have turned to shower to scolding hot, et voila no more cold feet. =^.^=

    Liked by 1 person

  3. James

    I seems like you really hate this movie. I didn’t know that it was based on some book or a novel at all till today. Actually I loved whatever bits and pieces of sci-fi was there in it. But now will have to understand the original work. I cant resist it.


    1. Jay Post author

      I really don’t hate it. I watched it recently because we had no internet and we pulled this off the shelf of DVDs we own. Surprising? Maybe. But I can’t help but feel it’s quite watchable despite itself.

      Liked by 2 people


  5. TheYesMad

    I loved this movie as a kid. I was also 10 when I watched it, and have only seen it once. Thanks for your review. I’ll keep it in my past where it can stay a fond memory. ๐Ÿ™‚



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