Will Smith does what he does best – kicking ass in I, Robot, a sci-fi/action from dystopian darling Alex Proyas that merges the growing artificial intelligence industry with homeland security concerns, depicting a nightmare scenario of intelligent robots running among a futuristic Chicago. I’ll admit I don’t remember much about this movie, even after seeing it a lot as a kid.
I do remember Will Smith, and it’s hard to say no to Hollywood’s most reliable mainstream star, so I gave the film another shot. Unfortunately, it was more disappointing than I expected it to be.
How to Stream or Download I, Robot
To stream or to download the film, click on the Download button located at the end of this review. You will be able to get it from a digital store of your choice. If you like Will Smith, check him out also in Men in Black (1997), I Am Legend (2007), Suicide Squad (2016), or Bad Boys for Life (2020).
The Movie Review
The story is set in future Earth (2035 A.D.), and follows technophobic Chicago Police Detective Del Spooner’s investigation into the suicide of Dr. Alfred Lanning, who works at U.S. Robotics, in which a robot, Sonny, seems to be involved. But if he’s involved, that means that the robot has broken one of the Three Laws of Robotics – in which they cannot harm a human being, to obey humans, and to defend themselves as long as it doesn’t contradict the other laws.
Spooner’s investigative assistant os Dr. Susan Calvin, a psychologist who specializes in the psyches of robots.
Director Alex Proyas is known for his dark and memorable work in The Crow, Dark City, and Knowing, but here his style is obscured by a weak portrayal of an overwritten protagonist.
I, Robot is loosely based on Isaac Asimov’s short story collection of the same name. But we don’t really need to know that, when there have already been a handful of movies depicting rogue robots overthrowing mankind such as Terminator, The Matrix, and 2001: A Space Odyssey.
There is however a fanbase for the Asimov series, and they might find this adaptation a bit sacrilegious. While fans may cringe at this movie, which is far from the author’s vision, it still centers around the three absolute laws.
The thing I disliked the most are the action scenes, The plotting sequences are well-written and entertaining to watch, but the action is dreadful. I, Robot demonstrates that fully computer-generated action scenes lack the tension that stunt scenes provide, and that bad computer graphics make bad action scenes much worse.
The car chase in the highway tunnel is a good example of this – not only is it not dramatic, but it’s also unrealistic. Will Smith is a great actor, but he’s not as funny as he was in previous films, but that’s mostly because some of the jokes in I, Robot aren’t funny.
The original screenplay is serious, but when they decided that Smith would play the lead character, jokes were added in for the purpose of having them. Smith does, however, have a few lines that he delivers flawlessly.
Bridget Moynahan, on the other hand, is hard to get into. Her character was so hollow she seemed more robotic than the actual robots. Although she develops through time, it was hard to connect with her.
There is one thing I liked a lot in the movie, and it’s that the robots are terrifying. It might be the fact that they almost look human, but not human enough to let our guard down. And it might also be the fact that they’re depicted as intelligent sentient beings, making them much more challenging enemies.
For a mainstream film, they’ve presented the whole artificial intelligence vs. human intelligence debate pretty well, despite failing the source material.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, I, Robot exceeds expectations, but falls short in what should have been its best point: action. The storyline and its delivery are surprisingly effective, and Will Smith does a terrific job in the lead role, but those seeking for a pure popcorn action film may be disappointed by the poorly-done CGI action scenes.
The special effects for the individual robots are incredible, but the rest of the graphics detract from the picture in several important areas.