What She said:
So, apparently this movie is based off a well-known sci-fi book,
which is actually a collection of short stories. I’ve never
read it, don’t particularly care to. Maybe one day.
Anyway, I’m told the movie doesn’t exactly bear much resemblance to
the book. But that’s all an aside, just to acknowledge the
fact that there’s a piece to this that I’m wholly unaware of.
This is what I can definitely tell you: I, Robot
tells the story of Del Spooner, played by Will Smith, a detective
living in a not too distant future where robots are used as our
minions. They basically do all the stuff that mankind has
come to loathe—babysit, trash pick-up, cooking, cleaning, etc.
Detective Spooner has a natural aversion to robots, and doesn’t
trust them one bit. His suspicions are confirmed with the
death of noted scientist Dr. Alfred Lansing, who actually created
the robot type that is all the rage in this new society.
Spooner finds evidence that it was a robot who actually killed
Lansing, which everyone else thinks is impossible. Why?
Because the robots abide by these three laws that forbid them from
harming people. The thing is, Spooner believes that one of
the robots has become conscious and is able to disobey. So
there’s a lot of chasing, and action, and some furrowed
eyebrows. As robots begin to turn on humans, Spooner has to
save the day, while also dealing with some tough questions about how
we define life.
Will Smith is the king of one-liners in the movie. In fact,
I think he rarely says more than one or two sentences at a
time. He’s joined on his crusade by some sort of robot
psychologist, Dr. Susan Calvin, played by Bridget Moynahan.
Her character is 100 percent forgettable. First of all, if
the robots are not expected to be cognizant, then why does a
robopsychologist exist? Talk about a useless college
degree. Secondly, she seems to given an inexplicable amount
of free reign within the U.S. Robotics company. It’s fortunate
for Spooner that she can pretty much do whatever she wants at work
and no one thinks twice about it. Thirdly, and this is just
my opinion, I thought that Moynahan was absolutely brutal in this
role. I did not believe a word that came out of her
mouth. Her acting just seemed that bad. I think she was
there as a potential long-term love interest for Will Smith’s
character, but I would have rather she not been around.
The film is filled with plenty of action scenes, and I think
it’s trying to make a deeper statement, although the plot doesn’t
seem developed enough to really get us to that point. This is
a fine movie for summer weekend fluff. The special effects,
while not so spectacular by today’s standards, were, I’m sure,
pretty good for back when this was made. It’s a bit cartoony
at times to my eyes. Still, I, Robot is a painless
action movie that gets the job done well enough.
Thumbs mostly up.
What he said:
I didn’t see this movie when it came out in theaters. To be
honest, I don’t exactly remember when I did see it for the first
time. What I do remember is finding many a person online who did not
like this movie. I remember encountering several people who were
upset it was not more like the book. I read the book and liked it,
but it was a series of short stories that would be impossible to
duplicate on film. If I remember correctly, not all the stories are
even connected. Most of the later ones are – particularly
when it comes to the Dr. Calivin character – but the earlier ones
are not or are very loosely. So I always thought it was a little
unfair to hold it accountable for not being able to tell 9 separate
stories in one movie. The movie took several characters from the
later connected stories combined it with the “three laws” and made a movie out of that. I also
remember liking it significantly more than many people I
encountered. I was actually pretty curious about revisiting it
because I had not seen it in years.
I, Robot revolves mostly around detective Del Spooner
(Will Smith). Spooner is something of an outcast. He doesn’t like
robots and he lives in a world filled with them. They walk our
dogs, clean our houses, and to just about anything we want (within
reason). He thinks they put people out of jobs. He doesn’t really
trust them either. He keeps waiting for one to go haywire.
Well it turns out he may get his wish when Dr. Alfred Lanning –
the creator of robotics as society knows it – turns up dead in the
lobby of his own company. CEO Lawrence Robertson (Bruce Greenwood),
robopsychologist Susan Calvin (Bridget Moynahan), and just about
everyone else involved things Lanning (played by James Cromwell)
committed suicide. Spooner isn’t so sure, especially when a robot
named Sonny (Alan Tudyk) shows up at the crime scene. Sonny seems
different than most robots. He’s a little more human. Granted, he
seems very childlike, but still more like a human than any other
machine around. Spooner and Calvin try to figure out just what
exactly happened, but things get complicated when somebody tries to
kill them. Whoever it is keeps sending all kinds of various
machines after them.
Interestingly enough, I found a lot of the chase scenes boring.
For a movie that sold itself mostly as an action flick, some of
them were quite dull. There was no tension at all and the effects
were bad to boot. There were times – particularly during the chase
scenes – where the movie looks very amateur. I was really taken
aback by that, because I didn’t remember feeling that way the first
time around. There was also something else about the effects that
bugged the hell out of me. For whatever reason, some of the robots
looked like characters in a Kung Fu flick. I think it was the way
they moved that bothered me. It was some weird mix between moving
like an insect and martial arts master. It looked so phony at times
and I found it really distracting. I didn’t feel that way about
every action scene in the movie, but I think I did about enough of
them where I actually started to realize I don’t think I like this
movie very much anymore.
That kind of surprised me because I remember liking this a great
deal more than most people I had encountered. I was also
disappointed, because the whole premise of artificial intelligence,
what it means to be alive, yada, yada, yada, really intrigues
me. But it’s hard to care about the message when your bored
by the parts which are supposed to excite you.
It’s a shame because I like Will Smith and I didn’t think he was
too bad in this. Some of his jokes fell flat more often than in
other movies, but I still found him to be engaging.
I even thought Bridget Moynahan’s wooden performance was kind of
funny. It wasn’t a great performance, I agree with my partner on
that. But I thought that character was supposed to be, you know,
like a robot. She was uptight, anti-social, and preferred the
company of machines. It reminded me of when Sheldon (from the
Big Bang Theory) gets put into one of those situations
he’s uncomfortable with.
Overall, I thought it was a pretty bland movie. Not what I
remembered and I actually don’t like it anymore. This movie review was written
for your reading pleasure on June 7, 2012.
Rating: Thumbs down.