I, Robot (Blu-ray)
Loosely based on the novel from Isaac Asimov, I, ROBOT is an action-packed, CGI-laden thrill ride from director Alex Proyas (THE CROW). Set in 2035, W...
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Review of "I, Robot (Blu-ray)"
Seem to be going through a Will Smith period at the moment, not quite sure why I’m watching a lot of his films at the moment, guess maybe that some of them such I, Robot could be considered underrated with the films that his in and the style in which the film is made. Like Hancock and Ali its nice to see Smith get away from the nicey, nicey cocky soundtrack singing character that seems to have been a trademark and in defence of Smith he does try to getaway from this label every now and then, yet its interesting to note that some of the films that he attempts to apply a different approach do tend to fail to meet expectations and it’s a shame really as looking at the films after the hype has died down does tend to make me see the film in a different light without it being forced upon me and eventually boring me silly. Such a film is I, Robot, as I watched this for the first time in ages since its release back in 2004 and I have to say that time has greatly helped the film as it seems to matured very well indeed.The plot of the film starts out to be simple whodunnit, Smith plays Detective Del Spooner. The year is 2035 and Spooner is assigned a case that appears to be a suicide but could have been carried out by a robot. The problem is that the person who is dead was a friend of Spooner and the location of the crime happen to be US Robotics, the manufacturing giant that makes the Robots that people buy, as the film opens up you get to see the Robots doing various chores and tasks working alongside human s in every way possible. To give some background a Robot is the essential thing to have and so far there have been different models built by US Robotics which are seen throughout the film. As the film proceeds Spooner is dragged into a world where his serious techno-phobia of the Robots is shown and is used by his nemesis as his Achilles heel and yet the more he investigates the death of his friend the more Spooner dislikes what he sees.
Smith is the main character with a mysterious past and as the film unravels its many secrets you start to understand why the character has these feelings. This is a totally different Smith we see on screen compared to films such as Men in Black. One who makes the wrong decisions and is called a liar for what he has to report back to his superiors even when he managed to survive a vicious attack by the Robots in a road tunnel and its refreshing to see this as well, in fact given the character of Spooner is a very closed and dark in nature and because of this the film has been given that edge that makes it different given the core of the story and the sub-plots involved that entertainingly all come together.Backing up Spooner is Bridget Moynahan who plays Susan Calvin. She works for US Robotics and becomes the partner of Spooner as the film evolves. Early on in the film Calvin is a background character who Spooner visits as part of his investigation, and by the end become the partner to Spooner. I think her part wasn’t written that well and by this I mean that she is the eye candy in the film although by the end she does have some amount of chemistry with Smith when they are on-screen together and she does have her very own moments as the shower scenes are used to good effect in parts, although these seems to be on the same level of a Maxi shoot giving the fact that these scenes are done very tastefully and which in turn simply oozes sex appeal.
James Cromwell is an actor who has appeared in what seems like everything in the past two decades. Here he plays the murdered Dr Alfred Lanning; in fact most of his part is in holographic form as these are the cryptic messages left for Spooner at various stages in the film. The part of Lanning is small and it seems that Cromwell has a cameo role, in fact his dialogue is minimal anyway, and however he is the catalyst in the story along with Sonny. Sonny is a CGI character who is voiced by Alan Tudyk, he voices the mysterious Robot at the centre of all the proceedings of the film and the one character and straight away you can tell that he is something special.Also just to add that there is a very small part with Shia LeBeouf in an early role, compared to his later films such as Transformers, here he has curly hair that resembles more of an afro than anything else, he is another friend of Spooner, however his role is more of a streetwise street urchin that would rather use a baseball bat then diplomacy.
Rounding off the main cast is Bruce Greenwood, more recently Greenwood played Captain Christopher Pike in Star Trek. Here he plays Lawrence Robertson, head of US Robotics. Robertson is quite a nasty character that defends the company to the hilt in whatever circumstances and yet realises that the image of the company is at stake because of the murder. The heated discussion he has with Spooner is a good example of the calibre of writing that has been employed. I was impreseed with the soundtrack as well, thankfully no Will Smith sons but a pounding sound that reminded me of a heartbeat in tempo, this works very well with regards to the places it is used and increases in tempo where necessary.The film also paints a different picture of the future as well, one not necessarily seen in the movies. By this I mean that the price of beer, in one seen Spooner is seen having a Budweiser that cost $17! Again he is served by a Robot in this scene and the Robot is shown to provide a service and by the end of this scene you tend to feel sorry for it giving the way that Spooner treated it in the first place. In fact the theme of being accepted is a recurring theme throughout and by the end you do tend to sympathise with the Robot with what they have gone through, not saying anymore given the fact that I could send out spoilers. However it’s safe to say that from the outset that Spooner does become the target with the Robots being used in attempt to kill him. None more so than the action scene that is set inside the road tunnel, this involves Spooner in his Audi with transporters full off Robots piling on top of the car, this is what I would call a full on action sequence as the whole sequence that lasts for over five minutes culminates with Spooner being told by a Robot that he is “going to have an accident” and after the crash there is no sign of any Robot or vehicle, in fact the Robots have made it look like the driver fell asleep at the wheel! This incident in turn makes Spooner tell his Chief what has happened to which a very nice twist is executed. In fact there are a number of twists in the film that are used to good effect and this is why I think this is a far better film than people give it credit for. There is obvious uses of product placement, the most easiest identifiable products being Audi whose cars are used throughout and Converse who 2004 model is referenced as classic. Not a major problem as the film is set in the future and the design of the car is somewhat advance in design.
Extras wise the Blu-Ray comes with a nice package that gives an insight to the making of the film. The immediate difference that I noticed compared to the DVD version was the intensity and clarity of the print used for the Blu-Ray release. Okay this is the next step up in terms of definition, but was completely taken with the fact that the picture appeared sharper and clearer than before. The extras do justice to film as well, with a Commentary by Director Alex Proyas and Screenwriter Akiva Goldsman giving a detailed aspect of what they did to achieve the desired shot at a given location as well as a trivia track as well. Interestingly given the fact that this is a CGI effect laden film a number of featurettes provide granular overviews of the production methods. Add to the mix Deleted Scenes as well as two Alternate Endings and it is a complete package. Of course soundtracks in DTS-HD make the experience even more enjoyable making each bullet impact actually being felt rather than just being heard!Overall I enjoyed the film immensely and was a good find on DVD, I know some shops have parts of the film as a demonstration of the wares and this shows exactly how high the standards have been raised with regards to the production of the film itself. Its not only about a man coming to terms with Robots becoming part of the normal day-to-day life. It’s actually far more than that anyway. The story is based on the Isaac Asimov novel and really the only part that has transferred over is the Three Laws that acts as a Robot code of ethics. However what has been produced is a very high calibre film that entertains with a superior script that provides a fair amount of suspense and tension throughout as it’s a film that proceeds towards the end of the film with a good pace and one that never oversteps the mark as the climax is quite a nervous affair given its setting and what is happening around the two main characters involved, so the journey from the start to the finish is 109 minutes in length yet this is one film that I felt truly has that epic appeal that has been quite rightly tagged to it. As I said at the beginning of the piece this was a break the mould moment for Will Smith and I am hoping that one day the character of Spooner returns to the screen again.
A Blu-Ray that can justifiably take pride of place on the shelf.
Product Information : I, Robot (Blu-ray)
Manufacturer's product descriptionLoosely based on the novel from Isaac Asimov, I, ROBOT is an action-packed, CGI-laden thrill ride from director Alex Proyas (THE CROW). Set in 2035, Will Smith stars as Chicago law enforcer Detective Del Spooner. Called upon to investigate the mysterious suicide of scientist Dr. Alfred Lanning (James Cromwell), Spooner deduces that Lanning didn't kill himself but was, in fact, murdered. Lanning worked for the US Robotics headquarters, where he constructed friendly robots designed to help humans with mundane tasks. Lanning's creations are prevalent all over the city, and have been fully integrated into the culture. They are allegedly programmed not to harm humans, but as Spooner digs deeper, his investigations lead him to a new type of robot that Lanning was working on before his death, and one of these models--the highly charismatic Sonny--becomes the prime suspect in the case. Spooner bears a grudge against robots due to an unfortunate incident, so his case against Sonny is met with shrugs of indifference from colleagues who know his prejudices all too well. Fortunately he meets an ally, and a romantic interest, in Dr. Susan Calvin (Bridget Moynahan), who agrees to help him. As Sonny is cured of his violent tendencies, the other robots amass across the city, working on the assumption that they need to control humanity in order to safeguard its future. Director Proyas unleashes a fearsome arsenal of special effects, while Spooner and Calvin chase the errant robots all over the city. Sonny's facial features and voice are digitally manipulated from the actor Alan Tudyk, lending an unnerving element of humanity to the character. Smith and Moynahan give convincing performances throughout, and as the action races towards a nail-biting conclusion, the message of the movie suggests that technologies built to help mankind could also provide its downfall.
Listed on Ciao since: 06/03/2008