I, Robot
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Alex Proyas
scr Jeff Vintar, Akiva Goldsman
with Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, Alan Tudyk, Bruce Greenwood, James Cromwell, Chi McBride, Adrian L Ricard, Shia LaBeouf, Jerry Wasserman, Fiona Hogan, Craig March, Sharon Wilkins
release US 16.Jul.04, UK 6.Aug.04
04/US 1h55

You know, don't you, that gasoline explodes! Moynahan and Smith

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I, Robot

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This ripping futuristic thriller is one of the more intelligent action films in recent years. It's a thoroughly entertaining combination of strikingly visual direction with strong writing and intriguing performances--three elements that seem to come together very rarely indeed.

In 2035 Chicago, where robots perform all mankind's pesky daily tasks, Del Spooner (Smith) is a detective with robot-phobia, even though there are three strictly enforced laws that ensure safety. When the head of US Robotics (Cromwell) is found dead from an apparent suicide, Spooner naturally suspects something's fishy with the robots. But he his boy-who-cried-wolf reputation isn't going to get him anywhere. Working with a scientist (Moynahan), Spooner is in a race against time to figure out what's up while navigating a minefield that includes his sceptical captain (McBride), a unique robot named Sonny (Tudyk) and an unhelpful executive (Greenwood).

"Suggested" by Isaac Asimov's book, the filmmakers combine intriguing ideas about artificial intelligence with the structures of an action movie, and they get the balance exactly right. The script is especially smart--with a strong narrative, intriguing action sequences and well-defined characters we can grab hold of. It helps that Smith is at his charming best, beefy and offbeat at the same time, carrying us through the story effortlessly. Moynahan holds her own against him, and Tudyk provides the film's emotional centre with a combination of fascinating effects and superb voice work.

The look of the film is wonderfully original--and not so distant that it's not recognisable. This is a realistic take on life 30 years form now, only going over the top in skylines and transport systems that probably couldn't be developed so quickly. This is a gritty, witty version of the future that the characters fit nicely into. And after establishing the people and places so well, the filmmakers are free to develop the film in to a big conspiracy thriller with suspicions everywhere, inventive action set-pieces (only the car-crash sequence is too computer-animated), and lots of clever plot twists and turns. But best of all, this is a story that's actually about something--the soul, free will, revolution. Very cool.

cert 12 themes, violence, language 15.Jul.04

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... I, Robot Alicia, Virginia: 4.5/5 "I loved Will Smith ever since Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. He has the ability to be serious, but at times to still maintain his reputation for humour. I can't forget the nude scene. He has a nice body. I love the ending. The ending was hot. Oh Sonny you are the one over the hill. But in between was a lot of facts and background they had to give the audience in order to figure out who was who. I almost fell asleep. I like the end when I knew at what point where everyone was. Who was on the good side and the villans. Sonny shocked me at the end." (3.Aug.04)

Laurie T, Minneapolis: "We finally got to see this one. Robots supposedly have to live by 3 rules - basically, no robot is to harm a human or cause injury to one. BUT machines can also evolve. I read a lot of science fiction when growing up, and many authors theorized that a computer will eventually evolve and think and become almost human and take over. This movie takes this to a new level - a new line of robots is due to be released, so there will be one robot for every 3 humans. And Will Smith is the only one who has any suspicions that the 3 laws are not being followed by the new line of robots. So is he going crazy - or are the robots really trying to kill him? Again, I sound like a broken record, but this was a really good suspenseful movie, and I would also recommend this one." (6.Sep.04)

Donna Carter, Wisconsin: "Definitely two thumbs up. The previews didn't give away too much of the plot and I enjoyed the twists. I thought it was going to be a sort of furtherance of Robin William's Bicentennial Man (also by Isaac Asimov), but this was much better, and very enjoyable! I recommend it. Highly entertaining, interesting twists, fast-paced, high-tech. I liked it!" (13.Sep.04)

2004 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall