I, Robot
"As an example of an idea being more frightening than the experience, look no further."

As an example of an idea being more frightening than the experience, look no further.

The possibility of a slave nation rising up and destroying its masters must disturb the sleep of reactionary leaders throughout the world, except they comfort themselves in the belief that they have the resources, the weapons and the intelligence to put down the first ripple of rebellion with ruthless efficiency.

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What if the slave nation has the intelligence, the resources, even the weapons? What if it is a nation of robots, programmed not to protect human beings, but to kill them? In 2035, in Chicago, there is one robot to every five citizens, doing all the nasty/boring jobs, like refuge collection, courier service, domestic chores. What if a new improved model is produced, with a malfunctioning chip that can override the fail safe protection programmes already imbedded, for the sole purpose of reactivating The Daleks' mantra, "Ex Ter Min Ate", for no logical reason other than because they can?

Cut into the fabric of this nightmare scenario is the story of a suspicious, cynical, paranoid cop (Will Smith) by the name of Spooner, known as Spoon, who has baggage, filled with the detritus of bad things gone down, which are never disclosed and yet remain a vital ingredient to understanding why he hates robots.

Spoon has been off duty for some time, it seems, but now he's back and his boss at the precinct is reluctant to give him a free hand. Whatever happened in the past makes this insubordinate detective not entirely trustworthy, which only adds to his paranoia, as no one will listen to him.

When the head of scientific research (James Cromwell) at the leading robot manufacturing company throws himself through a plate glass window 20 storeys up, it is assumed that he killed himself. Spoon investigates, refuses to accept the suicide theory, discovers in the lab a rogue robot that appears to have independent intelligence and seeks the advice of Calvin (Bridget Moynahan), the prof's uptight assistant.

Spoon is a loner; Calvin is an ice maiden; the rogue robot (voiced by Alan Tudyk) is camp. How do they co-exist? Remembering that this is a CGI ladened blockbuster, with Armageddon-sized effects and action packed into every futuristic minute, human/robot relationships don't have time to find an equilibrium.

Ultimately, the plot cops out and an easy solution is pasted on to avoid confusion. Unexpected sentimentality surrounds the rogue robot and Calvin lets her hair down, literally. Spoon remains an enigma. There is a whole backstory waiting to be told. Perhaps, that's the prequel - I, Fork - with Sonny, the robot, doing the ironing.

Reviewed on: 06 Aug 2004
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Will Smith saves the world again, this time from robots.
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Gary Duncan ****

Director: Alex Proyas

Writer: Jeff Vintar, Akiva Goldsman, based on short stories by Isaac Asimov

Starring: Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, James Cromwell, Bruce Greenwood, Adrian Ricard, Chi McBride, the voice of Alan Tudyk

Year: 2004

Runtime: 114 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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