Rakesh's movie talk
I, Robot (2004)

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Directed By Alex Proyas
Written by Jeff Vintar and Akiva Goldsman (based on story by Jeff Vintar, suggested by books by Isaac Asimov)
Starring Wills Smith, Bridget Moynahan, James Cromwell and Bruce Greenwood


The last time a movie with a title beginning with 'I' appeared was I, Spy. I have not seen it, but the reviews were bad. This time 'I' makes an appearance again, and it is called 'I, Robot', and of course, it is not a sequel.


The story is based on stories by one Isaac Asimov. Now, fans of Science Fiction literature rever this guy. I believe he is bigger than another writer who had more big-budget movies made out of his stories - Philip K. Dick. Both write futuristic stories about a sane hero surrounded by insane, technology driven, and affected ambience. At least that's what I learned from films like Blade Runner, Total Recall and Minority Report.


In fact, the movie is very much alike Minority Report, right from its view of the future right up to the elements of traditional murder mystery. I am too lazy to list down the similarities, and it would probably be unwise for us anyway since both movies are very interesting in their own way.


The mystery here involves the murder of Dr. Alfred Lanning and the suspect is a robot. And the whole story debates the three laws of robots as drawn by Lanning (or Asimov) which is:


1 - A robot cannot hurt a human or allow a human to come to harm

2 - A robot must obey a human's order unless the orders conflict with the first law

3 - A robot must protect its own existence as long as it doesn't conflict with the first two laws.


Pretty tight, huh? Of course you will disagree, especially if you are a lawyer.


Will Smith plays Detective Spooner, a guy from our time. He hates those robots and is hell-bent in tracking the bad robot down and nailing its err..rear. Smith plays down is usual smart-ass good funny guy image here. There is a little bit of Ford's cop in Blade Runner in Spooner, but at the same time he has not completely lost his sense of humour. In one scene, when Lanning's employer (played by Bruce Greenword) gives his statement, Smith sneezes loudly. "Excuse me," he says, "I am allergic to bullshit". Classic Smith comedy. And at the same time, he has not forgotten that he was the guy who played Muhammad Ali. Smith ranks alongside the likes of Nicholas Cage and John Travolta in their ability to blend in films of various genres.


Like Total Recall and Minority Report, the film does indicate the dangers of technology. There is a sense of danger hovering throughout the film, and only Smith's presence give it some kind of optimism, though he is cynical as hell. Most of the themes have already been explored especially in the greatest sci-fi ever, 2001: A Space Odyssey. In fact, the lead robot in the movie, Sonny, sounds like HAL (2001: A Space Odyssey). Probably intentional.


All in all, this is a good movie. It is getting more and more difficult to do a feature length sci-fi movie in these days of easy CG, as TV is doing a good job in grinding sci-fi to the ground with the cheap effects, cheap script and cheap performance. If not for these cheap craps, the audience prefer reality shows - those as exciting as watching snail doing a hundred metre dash.


Enough complain. This is good movie, but I have a feeling that it will not be remembered for long. Watch it now. It might be dated later. I concur that almost all of the nineties sci-fi movies - with the exception of Total Recall, are dated now. Including Minority Report.