FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: On Friday, I saw “I, Robot,” which stars Will Smith (The Pursuit of Happyness, I Am Legend), Bridget Moynahan (Lord of War, Battle Los Angeles), Alan Tudyk (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Trumbo), Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek , Thirteen Days), Chi McBride (Gone in Sixty Seconds, The Terminal), Adrian Ricard (Bulworth, ER [TV series]), James Cromwell (L.A. Confidential, The Green Mile), and Shia LaBeouf (Transformers , Lawless). It was directed by Alex Proyas (Dark City, Gods of Egypt), while the screenplay was written by Jeff Vintar (Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, Spaceless) and Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man). In 2035 Chicago, Detective Spooner (Smith) embarks on a daring case when a well-renowned robotics scientist named Dr. Alfred Lanning (Cromwell) supposedly commits suicide. Believing that there is more to the story, most likely involving the robots Dr. Lanning was inventing, Spooner has to jump through many hurdles in order to expose whoever is behind the act.
I like my futuristic Will Smith movies as much as the next guy. Whether it’s “Men in Black” or “I Am Legend,” they are entertaining and present the audience with that great Will Smith flair (typically a guy reacting to the insane in order to relate to the viewers). This isn’t the first time I’ve seen “I, Robot,” but I believe it to be my first full viewing of it, from start to finish. Growing up, I was always fascinated by the concept. Of course, I was (and still am) a sci-fi enthusiast, but something about a world co-existing with artificial intelligence is mind-boggling. We’ve had several releases of the idea, from “Blade Runner” to “Transformers,” and very few have there been films that obtained critical acclaim. At times, the idea can be exhausted, often unable to venture into uncharted territory, and while “I, Robot” explores themes that we as an audience are already aware of, it’s an overall fun ride to experience. The story focuses on a man living in a world where robots are designed to help humans and obey three binary rules that prevent them from harming people. However, the man, played by Will Smith, hates machines due to an accident that took place in his past. I would understand his dilemma; robots are freaky and I wouldn’t be surprised if they took human blood (but that may just be the movie watcher inside of me that’s fearful). Smith’s character of Del Spooner is essentially Will Smith. He walks around like he owns the place, does what he wants, and always feels like he is boxed in with no help. While I do enjoy the character, he certainly is a minor concern to the story, being as how he is able to walk in and out of anywhere he pleases, often not presenting his badge nor wearing a uniform to suggest that he works with the authorities. I guess in 2035 things are different, but he essentially looks like a citizen who doesn’t know when to steer clear or ask for permission (Will Smith, ladies and gentlemen). It got kind of unnerving at times since he was hardly ever declined or questioned as to why he was waltzing around doing as he pleased, but that was only a minor complaint I have to the picture as a whole. “I, Robot” has an interesting inner working behind it. Questions of humanity and existence circle around the plot like a vulture, and while I’ve seen it in plenty of other flicks (as I have mentioned before, “Blade Runner”), I found myself enjoying the world that this movie created with it. The design of the robots were foreboding yet cool, and I couldn’t help but enjoy the character of Sonny (Tudyk). He was by far the best the film had to offer, as his story was the most intriguing. Unfortunately, past him, there isn’t as much meat to this tale as I would want. For a detective drama that prides itself on thought-provoking ideas, it hardly ever dives deep into its side of thinking, resorting more to the shoot ‘em up action in order to keep fans entertained. With this takes buttloads of CGI, whether it be in crafting the world or creating incredibly ludicrous action sequences that teeter between cool and cringey. It’s getting out of date, for sure, but I will give it props to a few moments that haven’t seemed to age (such as the house demolition). It’s difficult to have a futuristic film without sculpting the future with the current age technology; it’s just a shame that they put so much in front of a green screen. Believe me when I say it’s entertaining. I mean, you’ll have some fun seeing this story unfold, it just feels a bit too surface level quite a bit of the time. I think they could’ve gone deeper, possibly more grittier with the plot as opposed to simply trying to prove that the robots are evil and having that prediction come true (not a spoiler, what movie would allude to this and never have it happen?). Alas, we watch what we are dealt with. “I, Robot” isn’t a bad feature. It has its own charm, with a fantastic score, solid performances (for the most part), and an interesting world to explore. I just wouldn’t put it at the top of the sci-fi list, nor consider it one of Will Smith’s bests. FINAL SCORE: 79%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: