Directed by Alex Proyas.
Written by Jeff Vintar and Akiva Goldsman. Based on some
random ideas by Isaac Asimov.
Starring Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, Chi McBride and Bruce
Release Year: 2004
Review Date: 7/16/04
Dave Bell (my brother, who is always
referred to by his full name) and I were talking on the phone
earlier this week.
Dave: "Man, you goin' to see 'I,
Robot?' I don't know, the trailer looks pretty tight..."
Me: "You're right, but I don't know, I'm getting that 'it's
all in the trailer' feeling, you know? Action looks pretty
Dave: "Yeah, but Will Smith, you know..."
Me: "Yeah, true. I still think
'Bad Boys 2' was pretty
solid, you know?"
This went on for a while, and I went back to
thinking about it...I haven't really seen too many dogshit Will Smith
movies, except for that piece of turtle dung
"The Legend of Bagger
Vance", another film that I saw courtesy of a freebie from my friend
Tricia, who told me she had freebies for "I, Robot."
No. In fact, "I, Robot" was so good
that I can't believe I was so wrong. It's the kind of summer
movie that seemed in prevalence two years ago, a well-written PG-13
that had enough action and laughs to keep you entertained for two
hours without a problem. Will Smith plays Detective Del
Spooner, a Chicago police guy that lives in a near-future world that
is dominated by robot service workers and personal servants.
U.S. Robotics has the biggest building in the city and is on the eve
of releasing its newest robot, the NS-5, and just before the world
release of the new product, the new model's inventor (James
Cromwell) is found dead, an apparent suicide in the city's
headquarters. Spooner, who had a close relationship with the
inventor, is sent in to investigate, and if you've seen any of the
trailers, well, you know the rest.
The script, touched up by Akiva Goldsman
(Oscar winner, for
"A Beautiful Mind") after an older draft by Jeff Vintar, is loaded with deeper subtext than the standard-issue sci-fi
action film, and that makes "I, Robot" the kind of movie that both
mainstream and more critical audiences can enjoy. It also
helps that the script is injected with enough attitude and funny
quips to make Smith handle all of the film so well; sure, he's
playing himself once again, but everything just feels darker, so in
between uproarious lines ("Sorry...I'm allergic to bullshit!"), he's
cursing out another officer or genuinely scared about a future run
by walking can openers.
Most of the success of "I, Robot", though,
comes at the hands of its director, Alex Proyas ("The Crow").
He mixes in the action scenes of the film quite well, but the vision
of this future as a sleek, cold cityscape really works without
digging too much into a "Blade Runner"-style future, where
everything is bleak and crime is everywhere and good guys are always
sitting at bars contemplating a soulless future. Sure, Proyas
falls victim to some ridiculous insertions (slow pan, right to left,
of Spooner in the shower just had our audience laughing
hysterically) and a couple of strange logistical twists, like how
the main robot in the film, Sonny (voiced by Alan Tudyk), kills
other robots by doing malicious things like snapping their necks,
Rambo-in-"First Blood"-style. (Do programmers make their
robots learn to kill like Special Forces soldiers? Hmm...)
Similar to "Paycheck"
from earlier this year, scientists who have never handled weapons
before seem to be quicker learners that police officers or
professional gunrunners; Bridget Moynahan plays a U.S. Robotics
staffer that goes from clumsy automatic weapon user to markswoman so
fast you think you missed the training session.
Plus, the script does occasionally fall
victim to Hollywood action conventions, so in the inevitable scene
where Spooner's police chief (Chi McBride, who has cornered the
fuckin' market on this role, playing it for laughs in
Brother" and for dramatic effect in
"Narc" in the last three years
alone) asks Spooner for his gun and badge, I don't think anyone
could have stopped me from laughing out loud at the cliché of it
all. And of course, we have to have a shot of someone diving
in slow motion with dual pistols, so we get that one thrown in for
But, the action is fast-paced and generally
well-filmed. The body count is high once again for a PG-13
(this IS a Will Smith flick, though), the laughs are well placed and
the special effects really are quite strong; the robot effects are
cool and, in the futuristic landscape that the film represents, it
seems to mix quite well between real actors and sets and the
ever-present blue screen. "I, Robot" is a good time with a
packed audience; sure, I saw it for free, but judging from the
reviews and from talking to a couple other people, I think you'll
enjoy this one.
Rating: $9.50 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard