Sunday, February 5, 2012

Film Review--I, Robot

starring Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, James Cromwell, Alan Tudyk, Bruce Greenwood, Chi McBride, and Shia LeBeouf as The Beav.

Del Spooner (Smith) is a cop in a future Chicago.  He doesn't much like "robot cases," but he's got one.  A scientist (Cromwell) has been killed and a robot might actually be the culprit.  Working with another robotics expert (Moynahan), Spooner delves further into a plot that may place all of humanity at the mercy of the machines.

Given that this film was only "inspired by" the book I, Robot by Isaac Asimov, I approached the movie with apprehension.  I was pleasantly surprised and impressed.

While I'm not certain if the "action-thriller" aspects of the film would have appealed to Asimov, the heart and thoughtful meditations of the writer's work remain.  In fact, I, Robot has more than a few concepts in common with Blade Runner...and that is not detrimental by any stretch of the imagination.  Like Blade Runner, this film asks questions about what might happen if robots or androids develop emotional responses through a natural course of evolution.  What is the definition of "life?"  For that matter, what are the definitions of "thought" and "reason?"  Cromwell's character asks "Why when in the dark do robots always seek the light?  When stored in containers, why do robots almost always stand together?"
I also liked the depiction of the future city of Chicago.  It's akin to Metropolis or once again the Los Angeles of Blade Runner in that above there are aerial vehicles and shiny skies pied with color.  Beneath, where the working class dwells, it is dirty, dingy, and all-too real.
Aside from the potential liberties taken with the Asimov book, I also harbored trepidations that the film would be propaganda for the neo-Luddite set.  Kip Haggis and all such effluvium.  Then I needed to remind myself that Asimov himself wrote about the possibility of an age where humanity might be obsolete in the face of robotics.  There are things that might go wrong as we progress technologically and they need to be considered.  The detonation of the first atomic bomb brought about the science fiction films known as "Atomic Horror" that were filled with cautionary tales regarding what we were doing with nuclear energy.  Films such as I, Robot are an update of that for the Digital Age, cautioning us about the pitfalls that might be ahead.

All in all, this was an exciting film that was well-acted and still retained high concepts that made you think.  I recommend it.

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1 comment:

  1. Forgot to mention that Alex Proyas directed this film. Been a while since I've seen his name. He's responsible for great movies like "The Crow" and "Dark City."


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