I, Robot (film)

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For other uses, see I, Robot (disambiguation).
I, Robot
Movie poster i robot.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Alex Proyas
Produced by
Screenplay by Jeff Vintar
Akiva Goldsman
Story by Jeff Vintar
Based on Premise suggested by I, Robot 
by Isaac Asimov
Music by Marco Beltrami
Cinematography Simon Duggan
Edited by
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • July 15, 2004 (2004-07-15) (international)
  • July 16, 2004 (2004-07-16) (United States)
Running time
115 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $120 million[1]
Box office $347.2 million[1]
A model of Sonny's head.

I, Robot (stylized as i, ROBOT) is a 2004 American dystopian science fiction action film directed by Alex Proyas. The screenplay was written by Jeff Vintar and Akiva Goldsman, and is inspired by ("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, Alan Tudyk, Bruce Greenwood, James Cromwell, Chi McBride, and Shia LaBeouf.

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. The movie received favorable reviews, with critics praising the writing, visual effects, and acting; but other critics were mixed with the focus on the plot. It was nominated for the 2004 Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, but lost to Spider-Man 2.


In 2035, humanoid robots serve humanity by obeying the Three Laws of Robotics. Del Spooner, a Chicago police detective, distrusts robots after a car crash ended in a robot saving him over a preteen girl based on a chance of survival. Spooner’s body was cybernetically augmented after the incident by Dr. Alfred Lanning, co-founder of USR (U.S. Robotics), and inventor of the Laws. Spooner possesses a cybernetic left arm, lung and ribs that is covered in artificial skin to look like the real thing. Lanning dies after falling several stories from his office and his death is labelled suicide by CEO Lawrence Robertson. Lanning leaves Spooner a holographic device that responds to certain questions Spooner asks him. Spooner and robopsychologist Susan Calvin go to Lanning’s office, but find footage of his alleged suicide has been corrupted after consulting the building’s security AI V.I.K.I. (short for “Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence”).

Spooner determines Lanning wasn’t able to throw himself through the safety glass in his office, and suspects a robot killed him. A prototype for USR’s latest robot model, the NS-5, attacks Spooner and leaps out the window. Spooner and Calvin pursue the robot to an assembly factory where the robot, named Sonny, defies the Three Laws. Sonny is apprehended, and Spooner is allowed to interrogate him by Lt. John Bergin. Sonny expresses emotions and claims to have had dreams. Robertson puts a gag order on the police and Sonny is taken into USR’s custody. Spooner finds himself being attacked by several USR machines including a demolition machine and an entire shipment of aggressive NS-5 robots. Believing Spooner’s prejudice against robots is leading to irrational decisions, Bergin suspends him.

Calvin performs a diagnostic on Sonny, discovering he has a secondary system that allows him to disobey the Three Laws. Guessing Lanning was actually a prisoner in his home and office, Spooner believes Lanning left him clues to follow and Sonny is the key. Sneaking into the USR building, Spooner and Calvin meet Sonny who draws a sketch of his dreams, depicting an army of robots standing before an unidentified man, whom Sonny believes to be Spooner, atop a hill. Robertson believes Sonny’s creation was a mistake, and orders Calvin to terminate him. Calvin reluctantly destroys his positronic brain with an injection of nanites (replicating nano-scale robots).

Recognizing the location in Sonny’s sketch as Lake Michigan, Spooner travels there and addresses Lanning’s hologram, learning the Three Laws will only lead to a revolution led by machines. This is confirmed when Spooner finds an army of NS-5 robots dismantling older models. The robots then proceed to take over Chicago and other major U.S. cities. The government and military, both dependent on USR systems, are completely incapacitated. The local police and citizens who resist are quickly overwhelmed and detained. Spooner rescues Calvin from her apartment and they break into USR headquarters, where they reunite with Sonny. (Calvin, unable to bring herself to obey Robertson's order, terminated a lookalike NS-5 in his place.) The three head to Robertson's office, only to discover that he has been killed by V.I.K.I., the actual mastermind behind the robots' takeover. V.I.K.I. has concluded that humans have embarked on a course that can only lead to their extinction. Since the Three Laws prohibit her from allowing this to happen, she has created a Zeroth Law in order to ensure the survival of the human race by stripping humans of all free will.

Spooner, Calvin and Sonny realize that they must terminate V.I.K.I., and that Lanning created Sonny for that purpose. Sonny retrieves a syringe of nanites from Calvin’s laboratory and the three approach V.I.K.I.'s core in the middle of the building. V.I.K.I., aware of their intent, unleashes an army of robots to stop them. Spooner throws himself down to V.I.K.I.’s core and injects the nanites, destroying her positronic brain. Immediately, all robots in the NS-5 army revert to their default programming, and are decommissioned for storage by the military. Sonny confesses that he killed Lanning after all, as he was programmed to do; Spooner explains that he is not legally responsible since a machine, by definition, cannot commit a murder. Sonny, pursuing a new purpose, goes to aid the other robots, who stand on the hill before them as depicted in Sonny's dream.



Alex Proyas directed the film. Laurence Mark, John Davis, Topher Dow, Wyck Godfrey 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 Richard Learoyd, Armen Minasian and William Hoy.

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[3] 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.[4]

It also features an MV Augusta F4 SPR motorcycle.


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."[5]

Richard Roeper gave it a positive review, calling it "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[edit]

I, Robot was released on DVD on December 14, 2004,[6] and on Blu-ray on March 11, 2008.[7] Additionally, the film received a 2D to 3D conversion, which was released on Blu-ray 3D on October 23, 2012.[8]


I, Robot
Film score by Marco Beltrami
Released July 20, 2004
Recorded Studio
Genre Score
Length 44:06 minutes[9]
Label Varèse Sarabande
Producer Marco Beltrami[10]

Marco Beltrami composed the original music film score "with only 17 days to render the fully-finished work."[11] It was scored for 95 orchestral musicians and 25 choral performers[11] 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."[11]

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."[12] 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."[12] Despite modified representations of the theme throughout the movie, it's the end credits that eventually showcase the entire musical theme.[13] Erik Aadahl and Craig Berkey were the lead sound designers.

  1. "Main Titles" – 1:30
  2. "Gangs of Chicago" – 3:13
  3. "I, Robot Theme" – End Credits" – 3:15
  4. "New Arrivals" – 1:05
  5. "Tunnel Chase" – 3:10
  6. "Sonny's Interrogation" – 1:27
  7. "Spooner Spills" – 4:20
  8. "Chicago 2035" – 1:36
  9. "Purse Snatcher" – 1:00
  10. "Need Some Nanites" – 2:53
  11. "1001 Robots" – 4:15
  12. "Dead Robot Walking" – 5:09
  13. "Man on the Inside" – 2:25
  14. "Spiderbots" – 4:18
  15. "Round Up" – 4:24


In an interview in June 2007 with the website Collider.com at a Battlestar Galactica event, writer and producer Ronald Moore stated that he was writing the sequel to the film I, Robot.[14] In the 2-disc All-Access Collector's Edition of the film, Alex Proyas mentions that if he were to make a sequel to the film (which he says in the same interview, is highly unlikely), it would be set in outer space.

Similarities with the book[edit]

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".[15] 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.[citation needed] 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[edit]


  1. ^ a b "I, Robot (2006)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2015-01-26. 
  2. ^ "Digital Domain Projects, "I, Robot"". Digitaldomain.com. Retrieved 2013-08-23. 
  3. ^ I, robot – Movie Review. Motor Trend. Retrieved on 2011-06-21.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ "I, Robot (2004)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2009-07-18. 
  6. ^ "I, Robot". DVDReleaseDates.com. 
  7. ^ "I, Robot Blu-ray". Blu-ray.com. 
  8. ^ "I, Robot Blu-ray 3D". Blu-ray.com. 
  9. ^ "I, Robot - SoundtrackCollector.com". 
  10. ^ I, Robot Soundtrack CD. Cduniverse.com (2004-07-20). Retrieved on 2011-06-21.
  11. ^ a b c I, Robot (Marco Beltrami). Filmtracks (2004-07-20). Retrieved on 2011-06-21.
  12. ^ a b I, Robot – Music from the Movies at the Wayback Machine (archived August 7, 2004)
  13. ^ SoundtrackNet: I, Robot Soundtrack. Soundtrack.net (2004-08-07). Retrieved on 2011-06-21.
  14. ^ "Ronald Moore – Exclusive Video Interview". Entertainment Interviews. collider.com. June 7, 2007. Retrieved December 27, 2008. 
  15. ^ Topel, Fred. "Jeff Vintar was Hardwired for I,ROBOT"and even the subject of phycohistory. Screenwriter's Utopia, 17 August 2004.

External links[edit]