It’s not often that a movie comes along and completely takes me by surprise. In this case, it was I, Robot. I never read any of the Isaac Asimov books, so I can’t compare. He might roll over in his grave; I don’t know for sure. But what I do know is that this film was completely and utterly mis-advertised. It’s an interesting blend of action, mystery, thriller and drama. And it’s anything but dumb.
Directed by Alex Proyas (The Crow, Dark City), the film takes place in 2035 Chicago. US Robotics (not to be confused with the modem manufacturer) is about to unleash their NS-5 robot model on the world, with a model in every household. But Detective Spooner (Will Smith) thinks that something is fishy – especially when it appears (at least to him) that a robot has violated the “Three Laws” and killed a human. But all is not as it appears, and through the course of the film, we discover how far and deep the conspiracy goes, and to what extent.
The story is engaging. The dialogue is meaningful and occasionally snappy. I like how Smith is given an opportunity to have a few one-liners every so often, but they’re well placed, and appropriate. The action scenes were a lot of fun, and quite exciting at times. The drama was well done, and the mystery was definitely keeping me guessing. Overall, I was really impressed with the story.
From a visual standpoint, this film has an amazing amount of visual effects, and some of the integration is completely seamless. Other times, it’s not as seamless. Digital Domain did a standout job with the robots, though, using global illumination and other techniquest to really give a photorealistic look – as well as a fine character performance. During the fight scenes, Proyas whirled the camera around (vertically sometimes) giving it a surreal yet expressive look. It’s certainly not as dark as his two other sci-fi films, but it’s got an edge to it that I liked.
What can I say about Marco Beltrami’s score? Marco wrote it in 15 days, since he replaced Trevor Jones. The end result is a score that is right up there with Hellboy as one of Marco’s best scores. Intimate and mysterious, dramatic and action packed, it’s got a great theme, and I’ve been listening to the album virtually non-stop for weeks. Definitely on my “Best of” list so far!
Forget what you think about this film from the trailers. Forget what anyone else “guessed” about it. Just know this – I was taken by surprise at how good it was, as was Edgar, who went to see it with me. I suggest you go see it and make up your own mind. Along with Spider-Man 2, it’s one of the few films I’ve seen this year that I feel is certainly worth the price of admission.