I, Robot

The Fresh Prince tackles Isaac Asimov's sci-fi classic, with disjointed results

Director: Alex Proyas

Starring: Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, Alan Tudyk

Website: http://www.irobotmovie.com/

Plot Summary: In the year 2035, robots are an everyday household item, and everyone trusts them, except one, slightly paranoid detective (Smith), investigating what he alone believes is a crime perpetrated by a robot. The case leads him to discover a far more frightening threat to the human race.

Review: Purists, be warned.

Supposedly "suggested by Isaac Asimov's book," I, Robot has about as much in common with the sci-fi classic as the Citroen Xsara Picasso does with Guernica.

That wouldn't be so bad if I, Robot worked as a summer blockbuster but, for the most part, it doesn't.

The Will Smith vehicle tries and fails to repeat the same trick that the first Matrix movie pulled off, appealing simultaneously to the head and the heart.

The key problems are Smith's limitations as a movie star, a vaguely incoherent plot and some surprisingly poor special effects.

Smith is a likable screen presence but this shift into slightly darker material is a step too far for the Fresh Prince, who never seems entirely comfortable as robot-hating tough-guy cop Del Spooner.

A transparent attempt to soften Spooner, by shoehorning his grandmother (Adrian Ricard) into several scenes, only adds to the awkwardness.

His leading lady, Bridget Moynahan, also brings little breadth or depth to her role, a robotics-focused psychologist who, handily, looks exceptionally good in leather trousers.

In fact, I, Robot could be the first film in which both the male and female leads are less convincing than the movie's main computer-generated character, Sonny (based on a performance by Tudyk).

The plot, meanwhile, is an uneasy mix-and-match of Asimov's ideas and police thriller cliché, which lurches abruptly from car chase to carefully spelled-out philosophical debate without covering much of the ground in-between.

It'd be easier to overlook these flaws if the special effects created a credible sense of time and place, but the computer-generated imagery usually looks precisely like computer-generated imagery.

That’s a shame because the production design, from the robots themselves through to the sinister US Robotics corporation's awe-inspiring headquarters building, is hugely impressive.

Though mildly diverting, the rest of I, Robot never reaches too far beyond tried-and-tested Hollywood blueprints.

Throw in a couple of particularly clumsy product placements and you're left with a movie that feels like it was made by machines rather than by men.

I, Robot Movie Times

PTV Rating: 2 out of 5

Czech Premiere: Thursday, September 2nd, 2004
Czech Title: Já, robot
Runtime: 1 hour, 55 minutes

Video on YouTube

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