Friday, July 15, 2005

I, Robot

I know this film came out a long time ago but I finally got around to watching I, Robot thanks to Bryan who found a cheap copy for me! Back in the 70s and 80s I was a huge Isaac Asimov fan and I, Robot is, perhaps, his best known book. What people who have not read the book don’t realize is that it’s actually a short story collection about robots tied together because of a few common characters (most notably Dr. Susan Calvin) and the three laws of robotics:
• A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
• A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
• A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

A collection of short stories does not easily become a film so I was curious what the film would be like. It turns out that the film is only based loosely on the book - Asimov didn't have nearly as much action in his stories. The film does include the three laws and Dr. Calvin but that’s where the similarity ends. I will say that the way the mystery wraps up (and I won’t give away the plot) is very much like something Asimov would do – having the three laws broken only to show that they really weren’t broken.

Will Smith is only somewhat believable as the main character (Detective Del Spooner) and Bridget Moynahan plays Susan Calvin in a way that makes you think that she is perfectly comfortable around robots. I’m not sure that was intentional. Don’t watch this for the acting. Asimov's Robot novels featured a detective, Elijah Bailey, but Bailey and Spooner have almost nothing in common. I'm not sure the film makers even thought about the Robot mystery novels despite the fact that this is a robot mystery based on Asimov's work!

However, the effects were a lot of fun and the movie hooked me. There are a few places at the end where the camera work is dazzling (in a special effects kind of way, not a Lord of the Rings awe inspiring kind of way) and the scene where the house is destroyed with Will Smith inside is really fun to watch. Overall, I'm glad I saw it and would recommend it to people who like Science Fiction and action movies.

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