Will Smith as Del Spooner
Bridget Moynahan as Susan Calvin
Alan Tudyk as Sonny
James Cromwell as Dr. Alfred Lanning
Bruce Greenwood as Lawrence Robertson
Adrian Ricard as Granny (as Adrian L. Ricard)
Chi McBride as Lt. John Bergin
Jerry Wasserman as Baldez
Fiona Hogan as V.I.K.I.
Peter Shinkoda as Chin
Terry Chen as Chin
David Haysom as NS4 Robots
Scott Heindl as NS5 Robots
Sharon Wilkins as Woman
Craig March as Detective
In 1950, author Isaac Asimov released one of his most famous works, I, Robot. This collection of 9 short stories set forth the Three Laws of Robotics and has been an inspiration to writers of Science Fiction ever since. Writer Jeff Vintar penned a screenplay about robots that followed the basic laws set forth by Asimov. When the rights to I, Robot were picked up by the same company that owned Vintar’s screenplay, they decided to merge the two.
The film I, Robot does not follow any of the stories of Asimov, but the way the robots interact with humans and the philosophies set forth by Asimov are ever-present in the movie. Fans of Asimov do not need to worry that his ideas were just cast aside – they were integrated into an already good plot that drew heavily upon his work.
In this vision of Asimov’s work, Will Smith is police detective Del Spooner, who has a deep distrust of the robot world. Spooner is called to the scene of a suicide by the victim via a holographic recording. He is immediately suspicious of the circumstances and believes that the man was murdered. He also believes that the murder was not done by a human but by one of the robots that the victim was working on. Robotic scientist, and close friend and colleague to the deceased, Susan Calvin (Bridget Moynahan) is assigned to assist Spooner in his investigation. Despite her trust in the three laws of robotics, she slowly begins to understand that they might not be fool proof.
The plot and storyline of the movie are first class. It has several twists and reveals itself slowly throughout the film. The pacing is good with plenty of action scenes interspersed between the character development and the background information. The acting is solid. However, Will Smith occasionally seems overly obsessive.
The special effects and CGI are state of the art. It is impossible to tell where the animatronic robots and the CGI robots converge. The city of Chicago has been updated to the year 2035 and looks appropriate. The interactions between the humans and the robots feel natural, as if they have been well integrated into society, and that is a tribute to the visual effects team. Complementing the effects is Marco Beltrami’s score. It is subtle but effective, pulling you deeper into the film.
There are only a couple of parts of the film that did not seem right. A fight at the end of the film between Detective Spooner and the robots seemed overdone and did not give the robots the superhuman capabilities that they seemed to have earlier in the movie. Also the robots that turn against humanity have a glowing red light in the center of their chest. While this is easier on the audience, it is something that gives away their intent. It would be far more sinister if the robots did not change at all when they went bad. Those are just minor problems though, and they did not seriously detract from the overall feel of the film.
Who should see this movie? Isaac Asimov fans will be happy to see an intelligent adaptation of his Robot series to the big screen. Fans of Will Smith will enjoy watching him in another strong leading role. There is action throughout the film and it is brought to life with excellent CGI. If you are looking for humor or a love story you will not find that here. This is a Hollywood summer blockbuster movie and those elements are not included here, although Detective Spooner does get a few humorous lines. The film does ask some serious questions about man and his relationships to the machines that he creates, which will leave you with something to think about long after the credits finish. Overall a very fun action movie that will also engage your brain.