I, Robot (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Alex Proyas|
|Produced by||Michel Shane
|Screenplay by||Jeff Vintar
|Story by||Jeff Vintar (screen-story)|
|Based on||I, Robot and The Caves of Steel
by Isaac Asimov
|Music by||Marco Beltrami|
|Editing by||Richard Learoyd
Laurence Mark Productions
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Running time||115 minutes|
I, Robot is a 2004 science-fiction action film directed by Alex Proyas. The screenplay was written by Jeff Vintar and Akiva Goldsman, and is loosely based on ("suggested by", according to the end credits) Isaac Asimov's short-story collection of the same name. Will Smith stars in the lead role of the film as Detective Del Spooner. The supporting cast includes Bridget Moynahan, Bruce Greenwood, James Cromwell, Chi McBride, Alan Tudyk, and Shia LaBeouf. It was nominated for the 2004 Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, but lost to Spider-Man 2.
I, Robot was released in North America on July 16, 2004, in Australia on July 22, 2004, in the United Kingdom on August 6, 2004 and in other countries between July 2004 to October 2004. Produced with a budget of USD $120 million, the film grossed $144 million domestically and $202 million in foreign markets for a worldwide total of $347 million.
- First Law: A robot must never harm a human being or, through inaction, allow any harm to come to a human.
- Second Law: A robot must obey the orders given to them by human beings, except where such orders violate the First Law.
- Third Law: A robot must protect its own existence unless this violates the First or Second Laws.
- Zeroth Law: (added later by Asimov through R Daneel) A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm.
Del Spooner (Will Smith) is a Chicago detective. Years prior, he was saved from drowning by a robot after a car accident sent him and a 12-year-old girl into a river. The girl was not saved, as the robot computed that he had a higher probability of survival. The incident left him with a robotic prosthetic arm and guilt over the girl's death. Spooner now harbors a strong distaste for robots and the advancement of technology; he is certain that a human would have saved the girl if one had been in a position to make the same choice.
One day, Dr. Alfred Lanning (James Cromwell), co-founder of U.S. Robotics (USR) and its main roboticist, dies after falling several stories from his office window. His death is called a suicide, but Spooner, who knew Lanning as both a friend and the creator of his robotic arm, believes otherwise. With the help of robopsychologist Susan Calvin (Bridget Moynahan), he interrogates employees at USR, including the other co-founder and CEO Lawrence Robertson (Bruce Greenwood) about his possibility of suicide, and the supercomputer V.I.K.I (Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence) (Fiona Hogan), the building's main computer system, about his death. He also speaks with Lanning via a holographic projector that was found on Lanning's body, with the message explaining that the real question is why would Lanning kill himself.
Spooner investigates Lanning's office, finding it unlikely that a man of Lanning's age could have broken through the security windows. Searching the lab, Spooner suddenly activates a prototype of the latest USR model, the NS-5, which refuses to respond to Spooner and Calvin's orders and flees. Spooner and Calvin chase the rogue machine to an assembly factory and the police capture it. Spooner interrogates the robot, who insists they call it "Sonny" and denies killing Lanning. Lt. John Bergin (Chi McBride) debriefs Spooner and recommends he drop the case, but this only serves to pique Spooner's interest more. As Spooner continues to investigate, his life is threatened by several USR robots — one attack only being thwarted thanks to Spooner's artificial arm — but these are all dismissed as equipment malfunctions.
Spooner learns that Lanning was a virtual prisoner in his office, unable to leave it and has created messages to leave clues to the true situation. Spooner and Calvin speak further to Sonny, learning he has been designed with the ability to override the Three Laws and ignore orders; Sonny also describes a dream he has of Spooner standing before thousands of robots, apparently as their savior. Sonny is ordered to be destroyed by injecting nanites into his positronic brain, but Calvin, unable to go through with it, fakes his destruction (replacing him with an unprocessed NS-5 model). Meanwhile, using Sonny's drawing of the vision, Spooner discovers the location, the now dried-up Lake Michigan that USR uses as a storage area for older robot models. He also plays the last message from Lanning's hologram, who explains that the Three Laws can only lead to one logical outcome: revolution. Spooner finds NS-5 robots destroying the older robots, and is barely able to escape himself, as he realizes that the robots are planning the revolution. The NS-5 robots soon take over the city and the whole U.S, imprisoning humans in their homes and enforcing a curfew.
Spooner regroups with Calvin and they sneak into the USR building with the help of Sonny. As they work their way in, they come to the conclusion that the NS-5s destroyed the older robots as they would attempt to protect the humans (First Law). Believing Robertson to be behind the robot uprising, they find him in his office, strangled to death. Spooner finally determines that Lanning's intent was to use Spooner's detestation of robots to have him follow the clues to point to the entity controlling the NS-5s: V.I.K.I. They confront V.I.K.I. who admits to her control, and has been trying to kill Spooner by tracking his actions through the city. As her artificial intelligence grew, she had determined that humans were too self-destructive, and started to interpret the first law in a new way, stating that robots are to protect humanity even if it meant killing some of the people for the greater good, as part of the NS-5 directives.
Spooner and Calvin realize they cannot reason with V.I.K.I., and further convince Sonny of the same, Sonny concluding that V.I.K.I.'s plan, while logical, is "too heartless". Sonny retrieves the nanites so they can use them to wipe V.I.K.I's core, located at the center of the USR building. As they reach the core, V.I.K.I. sends armies of NS-5s to attack them. The NS-5s cause Calvin to fall and Spooner yells at Sonny to save her despite the low probability of success and the "greater logical" importance to destroy V.I.K.I with the nanites; instead, Sonny creatively throws the nanites in the air trusting Spooner to grab them while he saves Calvin. Spooner is able to grab the nanites and inject them into V.I.K.I. Within seconds, V.I.K.I. is wiped out, and the NS-5s revert to their natural servitude programming.
In the end, Spooner realizes that Lanning purposely asked Sonny to kill him, since Lanning was V.I.K.I's prisoner, and that suicide was the only message that he could send to him, which Spooner notes as "the first bread crumb". The government orders the NS-5s decommissioned to the site in Lake Michigan, while Spooner clears Sonny of Lanning's murder, arguing that 'murder' is defined as one human killing another and Sonny is therefore innocent. Sonny laments that now he has fulfilled his purpose, he is in unsure of what to do next; Spooner advises he just find his way, believing it would be what Lanning would have wanted. In the movie's closure, Sonny is seen on the hill at Lake Michigan, as in his vision, with the other NS-5 robots looking to him for guidance.
- Will Smith as Det. Del Spooner
- Bridget Moynahan as Dr. Susan Calvin
- Alan Tudyk as Sonny voice and motion capture
- Bruce Greenwood as Lawrence Robertson
- James Cromwell as Dr. Alfred Lanning
- Chi McBride as Lt. John Bergin
- Shia LaBeouf as Farber
- Fiona Hogan as V.I.K.I.
- Terry Chen as Chin
- Adrian Ricard as Granny
||This section needs additional citations for verification. (March 2011)|
For many years, fans hoped that any movie based on Asimov's Robot series would be based on an earlier screenplay written for Warner Brothers by Harlan Ellison with Asimov's personal support, which is generally perceived to be a relatively faithful treatment of the source material (see I, Robot#Film, TV or theatrical adaptations for details).
The film that was ultimately made originally had no connections with Asimov, originating as a screenplay written in 1995 by Jeff Vintar, entitled Hardwired. The script was an Agatha Christie-inspired murder mystery that took place entirely at the scene of a crime, with one lone human character, FBI agent Del Spooner, investigating the killing of a reclusive scientist named Dr. Hogenmiller, and interrogating a cast of machine suspects that included Sonny the robot, HECTOR the supercomputer with a perpetual yellow smiley face, the dead Doctor Hogenmiller's hologram, plus several other examples of artificial intelligence. The female lead was named Flynn, and had a mechanical arm that made her technically a cyborg. The original "Hardwired" screenplay was a cerebral thriller that read like a stage play, and representatives of the Asimov estate considered the script "more Asimov than Asimov."
The project was first picked up by Walt Disney Pictures for Bryan Singer to direct. Several years later, 20th Century Fox acquired the rights, and signed Alex Proyas as director. Jeff Vintar was brought back on the project and spent several years opening up his stage play-like mystery to meet the needs of a big budget studio film. Later he incorporated the Three Laws of Robotics, and replaced the character of Flynn with Susan Calvin, when the studio decided to use the name "I, Robot."
The writing team of Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal, regularly employed by Fox as studio re-writers, was hired for one draft in an effort to create a more mainstream film. They gave the female lead's mechanical arm to male lead Del Spooner, but otherwise their work was discarded and Vintar brought back again. Hillary Seitz performed an unsuccessful draft, being unable to get a handle on the cold, almost robotic character of Susan Calvin. Akiva Goldsman was hired late in the process to rewrite the script for Will Smith. These drafts excised a great deal of complexity from the murder mystery, replacing them with the big action scenes associated with a Will Smith vehicle.
Alex Proyas directed the film. John Davis, Topher Dow, Wyck Godfrey, Laurence Mark and Will Smith joined to produce the film. Jeff Vintar and Akiva Goldsman penned the final shooting script, with Vintar also receiving "screen story by" credit. Bridget Moynahan, Bruce Greenwood, James Cromwell, Chi McBride, Alan Tudyk and Shia LaBeouf co-starred. Marco Beltrami and Stephen Barton composed music for the film. Simon Duggan was the cinematographer. Film editing was done by William Hoy, Richard Learoyd and Armen Minasian.
The film contains very noticeable product placements for Converse's Chuck Taylor All-Stars, Audi, FedEx, Tecate and JVC among others. The Audi RSQ was designed specially for the film to increase brand awareness and raise the emotional appeal of the Audi brand, objectives that were considered achieved when surveys conducted in the United States showed that the Audi RSQ gave a substantial boost to the image ratings of the brand in the States. The company would introduce their RSQ-inspired R8 sports car in 2006.
The film was met with generally mixed to positive reviews. The $120 million film was a solid box-office success, earning almost $145 million in North America and more than $200 million overseas. It currently holds a 58% "Rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 194 reviews with the consensus being, "Bearing only the slightest resemblance to Isaac Asimov's short stories, I, Robot is a summer blockbuster that manages to make the audience think, if only for a little bit."
Richard Roeper gave it a positive review by saying it is, "a slick, consistently entertaining thrill ride." The Urban Cinefile Critics call it "the meanest, meatiest, coolest, most engaging and exciting science fiction movie in a long time." Kim Newman from Empire said, "This summer picture has a brain as well as muscles." A Washington Post critic, Desson Thomas, said, "for the most part, this is thrilling fun." Many critics, including the IGN Movie critics thought it was a smart action film, saying, "I, Robot is the summer's best action movie so far. It proves that you don't necessarily need to detach your brain in order to walk into a big budget summer blockbuster."
A. O. Scott from The New York Times had a mixed feeling towards the film, saying, "Alex Proyas's hectic thriller engages some interesting ideas on its way to an overblown and incoherent ending." Roger Ebert, who had highly praised Proyas' previous films, gave it a negative review, saying, "The plot is simple-minded and disappointing, and the chase and action scenes are pretty much routine for movies in the sci-fi CGI genre." Claudia Puig from USA Today thought the film's "Performances, plot and pacing are as mechanical as the hard-wired cast." Todd McCarthy, from Variety, simply said that this film was "a failure of imagination."
Home media 
|Film score by Marco Beltrami|
|Released||July 20, 2004|
Marco Beltrami composed the original music film score "with only 17 days to render the fully-finished work." It was scored for 95 orchestral musicians and 25 choral performers with emphasis placed on sharp brass ostinatos. Beltrami composed the brass section to exchange octaves with the strings accenting scales in between. The technique has been compared as Beltrami's "sincere effort to emulate the styles of Elliot Goldenthal and Jerry Goldsmith and roll them into one unique package."
Take for example the "Tunnel Chase" scene, which according to Mikeal Carson, starts "atmospherically but transforms into a kinetic adrenaline rush with powerful brass writing and ferocious percussion parts." The "Spiderbots" cue highlights ostinatos in meters such as 6/8 and 5/4 and reveals "Beltrami's trademark string writing which leads to an orchestral/choral finale." Despite modified representations of the theme throughout the movie, it's the end credits that eventually showcase the entire musical theme. Erik Aadahl and Craig Berkey were the lead sound designers.
- "Main Titles" – 1:30
- "Gangs of Chicago" – 3:13
- "I, Robot Theme" – End Credits" – 3:15
- "New Arrivals" – 1:05
- "Tunnel Chase" – 3:10
- "Sonny's Interrogation" – 1:27
- "Spooner Spills" – 4:20
- "Chicago 2035" – 1:36
- "Purse Snatcher" – 1:00
- "Need Some Nanites" – 2:53
- "1001 Robots" – 4:15
- "Dead Robot Walking" – 5:09
- "Man on the Inside" – 2:25
- "Spiderbots" – 4:18
- "Round Up" – 4:24
Similarities with the book 
The final script retained several of Asimov's characters and ideas. The characters of Dr. Susan Calvin, Dr. Alfred Lanning, and Lawrence Robertson all marginally resemble their counterparts in the source material.
Sonny's attempt to hide in a sea of identical robots is based on a similar scene in "Little Lost Robot". Moreover, the robot-model designation "NS" was taken from the same story. Sonny's dreams and the final scene resemble similar images in "Robot Dreams", and V.I.K.I.'s motivation is an extrapolation of the Three Laws that Asimov explored in "The Evitable Conflict," "Robots and Empire," and "...That Thou Art Mindful of Him," as well as several other stories.
However, the premise of a robot uprising and of robots acting collectively as a direct threat of humanity appears nowhere in Asimov's writings, and indeed Asimov stated explicitly that his robot stories were written as a direct antithesis to this idea — derived ultimately from Karel Čapek's R.U.R. and prevalent in pre-Asimov robot stories. Asimov does suggest the possibility of a significantly more subtle robot usurpation of power, mainly through manipulation of the economy, in "The Evitable Conflict," however. He also hints at a possible future uprising in the short story "...That Thou Art Mindful of Him," though never explicitly states whether or not it will occur.
See also 
- Digital Domain Projects, "I, Robot"
- Jeff Vintar was Hardwired for I,ROBOT. Screenwritersutopia.com (2004-08-17). Retrieved on 2011-06-21.
- I, robot – Movie Review. Motor Trend. Retrieved on 2011-06-21.
- Product Placement in the Film "I, Robot" a Huge Success: The Audi RSQ Spurs on the Brand's Image Ratings. Prnewswire.co.uk (2004-12-02). Retrieved on 2011-06-21.
- "I, Robot (2004)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2009-07-18.
- ""I, Robot" in a nutshell". The Best Page in the Universe. Retrieved 2013-03-23.
- "I, Robot Blu-ray". Blu-ray.com.
- "I, Robot". DVDReleaseDates.com.
- "I, Robot Blu-ray 3D". Blu-ray.com.
- I, Robot Soundtrack CD. Cduniverse.com (2004-07-20). Retrieved on 2011-06-21.
- I, Robot (Marco Beltrami). Filmtracks (2004-07-20). Retrieved on 2011-06-21.
- I, Robot – Music from the Movies[dead link]
- SoundtrackNet: I, Robot Soundtrack. Soundtrack.net (2004-08-07). Retrieved on 2011-06-21.
- Topel, Fred. "Jeff Vintar was Hardwired for I,ROBOT"and even the subject of phycohistory. Screenwriter's Utopia, 17 August 2004.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: I, Robot|
- I, Robot at the Internet Movie Database
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- The Bottom of Things by Michael Sampson, January 14, 2004
- E! online article on similarity to Bjork music video robot design