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It's the year 2035, and robots have become commonplace servants to the human race. They do all the work that we really don't enjoy doing ourselves, but you won't hear them complaining. That's because they can't. Luckily for us, to complain is not in their programming. Every robot's primary programming consists of three rules that strictly govern its behavior. Rule number one is the biggie - "A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm." But, when a prominent robotics engineeer is found dead in the lobby of U.S. Robotics, a frightening question must be asked. Was it suicide, or has U.S. Robotics' latest product come to the cold, logical conclusion that rules are made to be broken?
Enter Officer Del Spooner, played by Will Smith. He's a homicide investigator who has a well-known grudge against all robotic members of society. So, naturally, when he suggests that a robot may have been involved in the engineer's death, nobody wants to listen. An on-the-edge cop with a theory that no one takes seriously? Wow! I've never seen that in a movie before!
Anyway, Spooner has his suspect; a robot named Sonny. Sonny is a model NS-5, the pinnacle of robotic technology. It's a friendly enough electronic fella, unless you do something really stupid like, oh, I don't know... accuse it of murder. But then, robots don't have emotions, do they? Paging Dr. Calvin! Dr. Susan Calvin, that is, played by Bridget Moynahan. She works for U.S. Robotics and specializes in robot psychoanalysis. Yep, she likes robots. Together, Officer Spooner and Dr. Calvin must put aside their differences to solve this incredibly predictable mystery. Okay, to be fair, the mystery will only seem predictable to those who watch the first twenty minutes of the movie. If you come in late, you may be surprised.
What surprised me was that the real robot in I,Robot was Will Smith! I'm referring to his acting, mind you, not his character in this sci-fi movie. To say that Will simply goes through the motions would be giving him more credit than deserved. He sleepwalks through his role as the bot-bigoted Officer Spooner, causing drowsiness for this reviewer in the process. Of course, director Alex Proyas and I,Robot's screenwriters may be partially responsible, since co-star Bridget Moynahan's performance is similarly bland. In fact, she exudes all the intriguing personality traits of a Coyote Ugly girl. Oh, wait - now I remember... Bridget was a Coyote Ugly girl.
It goes without saying that I, Robot is filled with CGI characters, but since I've just gone and said it anyway, I may as well tell you about them. There are a lot of CGI robots in this movie! It's funny, though, that they all look like they came directly from the "Rejected Battle Droid Designs" file over at ILM. However, I did like Sonny. In fact, of all the characters in I, Robot, Sonny was the most... human.
So, to sum up, I wasn't thrilled with I, Robot. Unless you're interested in seeing Will Smith with his charisma subroutines overridden, I'd steer clear of this one.
Directed By: Alex Proyas
Written By: Isaac Asimov (suggested by book) / Jeff Vintar (screen story)
Jeff Vintar and Akiva Goldsman (screenplay)
Starring: Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, Alan Tudyk, James Cromwell,
Bruce Greenwood, Adrian Ricard, Chi McBride, Jerry Wasserman, Fiona Hogan
MPAA: Rated PG-13 for intense stylized action, and Will Smith's bum.