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Sat, 2005-Jan-08

I, Robot

When I first heard about this series of Isaac Asimov's short stories being adapted for the big screen I also heard about Will Smith's leading role. This didn't inpire me to watch it, and I felt I needed independent confirmation that I wouldn't cringe at some wild misintepreation of the three laws.

Having now seen the film myself, my educated opinion is that it is not a travesty. That point concluded I can now look at the film in its entirety.

Let's get this straight: We're looking at an action film. In fact, I would say that the three tiers of the film are action, Will Smith, and a hint of 1984's big brother and world gone mad with love for something broken. No, I haven't even read 1984. Slap me.

It's an interesting blend. I am not a Will Smith fan, but found the other aspects of the film enough to keep me engaged with the character he played. That character is Del Spooner, A policeman who hasn't trusted robots since a past tragic event. He doesn't trust how the robots think, and that mistrust is central to the plot of the film. A character from the book that should have been more useful than she actually was is Susan Calvin (played by Bridget Moynahan). She is a robot psychologist who really is a bit of a wet fish in this intepretation, although it is difficult to see how she could have been better used without giving away too much of the plot in the early stages of the film.

Atmosphericly, the tension builds nicely throughout to a high-flying and enjoyable climax. My biggest complaint overall within the first fifteen minutes of the film's end was that the resolution itself was a little too audience-friendly.

Ultimately, the link between this work of the theatre and Asimov's books is fleeting and subtle where the link can be made at all. The main points that do survive are the laws of robotics themselves, and a few points that come out late in Asmiov's Foundation series of books rather than in "I, Robot" itself. "I, Robot" is a series of short stories rather than a single narrative but the film adaptation is a nice summary of the different worlds that exist in these and other Asimov narratives.

I've been thinking about the connections a little since I saw the film on DVD come New Year's Eve (I'm a party animal). I may start tending towards spoilers at this point so tune out if you don't want any major plot points revealed.

Hmmm... now that I look up specific stories from the compendium I find that the stories prompted by scenes from the film actually have come from other Asimov stories. I believe they came from "Robot Dreams" and "Robot Visions". I don't seem to have either volume in my library at present but I can recall the following:

Anyway... I've spent far too much time rereading robot stories while pretending to write a review, so I'll sign off now. To round it out I'll leave you with this final link: be sure to read the fliers. Repeal the second law! Oh, and my final score? I'd give it an 8/10, but maybe that's my supressed Asimov fan-boy youth speaking.

Benjamin