Movie Reviews: I, Robot




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     20th Century Fox (1 hr. 45 min.)
     An old school cop investigates a murder he believes was committed by a robot.
     Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, Bruce Green, James Cromwell, Chi McBride
Bottom Line:


Sci-fi purist will no doubt have a problem with "I, Robot," Will Smith’s latest vehicle into the summer blockbuster stratosphere However, purists have always had a problem with a film that’s adapted from a novel with a cult following. So what’s new?

Suggested by science fiction icon Isaac Asimov’s novel "I, Robot," and Jeff Vintar’s screenplay "Hardwired," the film "I, Robot" is set in the not to distance future, 2035 where humans are totally dependent upon robots. Robots walk the dog, wash the dishes, do the shopping and clean the house. They’re the perfect servants because they don’t complain and there are three safeguard rules programmed into the robots making them incapable of ever harming humans.

And that’s the whole hitch.

The story takes place on the eve of the largest robot (or domestic assistant) deployment in the world by U.S. Robotics – the company that has made robots a part of our everyday lives. With the release of the NS-5 next generation robot, there will be one robot for every five humans in the world.

But there’s a glitch. Del Spooner (Will Smith), a Chicago police detective with a repartition for hating robots, is in the midst of investigating the death of Dr. Lanning (James Cromwell), the NS-5 next generation designer. Lanning’s death (caused by the fall from a 20-story office window) is first considered a suicide. However, Spooner discovers a NS-5 robot named Sonny hiding at the crime scene, making Sonny the No. 1 suspect. He believes Sonny tossed Lanning out the window to his death, because the window Lanning supposedly jump through is a thick safety glass. The glass is too thick for a man to jump through, but not thick enough to stop a man from being thrown through it by a robot. And there’s the rub.

The premise of the film hangs on whether Sonny and the other NS-5 robots are capable of murder and a conspiracy to take over the human race. Spooner enlisted the help of Dr. Susan Calvin (Bridget Moynahan), a scientist with a specialty in robot psyches. Calvin tries to convince Spooner that robots are capable of only what has been programmed into them by humans – the three laws. But Spooner argues that at the Robotics automated factory, high-tech robots are building robots unsupervised, and that they are evolving.

"I, Robot" at times is reminiscent of other famous Sci-fi movies such as "2001: A Space Odyssey" as Sonny questions whether he’s a machine or has evolved into a conscious being. It’s also an ad for Converse All-Stars basketball shoes and Audi cars, but product placements are carefully worked into the storyline so that they’re not too intrusive. And Will Smith delivers enough one-liners to keep adolescence of all ages repeating them all summer.

Admittedly, "I, Robot" is a summer popcorn flick, but it’s also a murder mystery that pushed the boundaries of the run-of-the-mill special-effects flicks by daring to offer some semblance of a plot.



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