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 Laurence Mark
John Davis
Topher Dow
Wyck Godfrey
Screenplay by Jeff Vintar
Akiva Goldsman
Story by Jeff Vintar
Based on premise suggested by I, Robot 
by Isaac Asimov
Starring Will Smith
Alan Tudyk
Bridget Moynahan
Bruce Greenwood
James Cromwell
Chi McBride
Music by Marco Beltrami
Cinematography Simon Duggan
Edited by Richard Learoyd
Armen Minasian
William Hoy
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
Box office $347,234,916
Robot 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, anthropomorphic robots enjoy widespread use as servants for various public services. They are programmed with the Three Laws of Robotics directives: to never harm a human or let a human come to harm, to always obey humans unless this violates the First Law, and to protect its own existence unless this violates the First or Second Laws.

Del Spooner (Will Smith) is a Chicago police detective, who is sent to investigate the death of Dr. Alfred Lanning (James Cromwell), the co-founder of U.S. Robotics (USR) and its main roboticist, who died after falling 50 stories from his office. Since his office was sealed from the inside and he was alone, his death is ruled as a suicide, but Spooner believes otherwise, since he knew Lanning personally. He also finds a small holographic projector, who instructs him that the "real question" is why he would commit suicide.

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), and the supercomputer V.I.K.I. (Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence) (Fiona Hogan). Spooner investigates Lanning's office, and determines that a man of Lanning's age could not have broken through the security window. Inside the office, he finds a copy of Hansel and Gretel, and also a prototype of a new Nestor Class 5 (NS-5) model, which flees and ignores Spooner's order to stand down, and even knocks his pistol out, violating both the First and the Second Law.

Knowing the rogue robot will have to repair itself, Spooner and Calvin drive to the Nester Class factory of USR. They enter the storage area for the newly completed models, and the data logs show that there are 1,001 robots present instead of the daily 1,000, confirming that the rogue has gone through processing. Spooner tries a hostile approach and draws his gun and orders all of them to stand down to see which one will violate the Second Law to stop him shooting it. He notices the rogue robot slightly moving in the line, and chases the robot, who subdues him. Before attempting to escape, the robot asks Spooner "What am I?", but the Chicago SWAT team subdues it.

The robot is interrogated by Spooner, saying it did not kill Lanning and fled because he was frightened. When Spooner says robots do not have emotions, the robot says that Lanning was teaching him to experience them, even allowing him to sleep and have dreams. Spooner begins to provoke the robot, and it slams its fists into the table in a shocking display of anger. When Spooner refers to the robot as "canner", it insists that they call it "Sonny" (voiced by Alan Tudyk), and says that Lanning asked him to promise something, asking Spooner by name (which he had not given) if he must keep a promise if he loves them, leaving Spooner puzzled. Lt. John Bergin (Chi McBride) is confronted by Robertson, who says he and Spooner must drop the case, as Sonny is a robot and cannot be charged with murder, but is reclaiming him for diagnostics and then decommission. Using his political pull with the mayor as additional leverage, he gives them a gag order, preventing them from even suggesting a robot can kill. This only serves to pique Spooner's interest more about Lanning's death and the robot.

Spooner later has a drink with Bergin, who says that Spooner was the perfect person for the case, due to his hatred of robots, which leads him to believe Lanning may have intended him to investigate the robot. Looking for more clues, he goes to Lanning's manor, where he finds a demolition robot, which is scheduled to demolish the house at 8 AM next morning. He investigates the house, finding a recording of Lanning, who states that there are possible "ghosts in the machines", claiming that robots could evolve to develop sentience, and declares that one day, robots will have "secrets" and "dreams". As he investigates the house, he notices a sensor strip, the same one as in the USR building, and suddenly the robot changes the schedule from 8 AM to 8 PM, causing it to demolish the house with Spooner still inside, and seems to actively pursue him through the ruins, but he manages to escape.

Soon after, Spooner visits Calvin and tells her his suspicions, which she finds absurd, as she questions the ability for robots to be hostile, while Spooner argues about her over the possibility of robots being better than human beings, showing how much Spooner dislikes robots and their cold, rational behavior, which Calvin, who is an introvert, states that their behavior is created to be flawless. Angry, Spooner leaves her apartment and heads back home.

While continuing his investigation, Bergin tries to stop Spooner from investigating, telling him that he needs to take a vacation and relax from his work, since the case is destabilizing him. However, Spooner refuses to stop. While driving in his car, Spooner connects with the USR system and requests V.I.K.I. to show the last 50 messages between Lanning and Robertson, but V.I.K.I. has been programmed to inform Robertson of Spooner's requests. While Spooner is driving, two USR automatic trucks full of NS-5 robots block Spooner's path and a swarm of robots jump on his car, forcing him to drive in the surface tunnel, where he crashes. He manages to defeat all the robots, except the last one, which jumps into the fire and destroys itself when it hears police sirens in the distance. Despite Spooner trying to explain himself to Bergin, Bergin dismisses him from active duty, as all the destroyed robots have been cleaned away by road crew droids.

The next day, Calvin visits Spooner about the accident and is puzzled by the retro 2000s style of his apartment, and tells him that, while she was examining Sonny, she discovered that he has the ability to disobey the Three Laws due to a secondary artificial brain that can override his primary one. While talking to Spooner, who is dressing, she notices marks on his left arm and his lung, realizing that it is not biological but artificial. Spooner confesses to her that he knew Lanning personally because he repaired his arm and lungs. He reveals that, years prior, he was driving home from work when a semi-truck collided with his and another car, pinning them together. Both of the cars fell into the river, and only Spooner was left alive, but a 12-year-old girl, named Sarah, was trapped in the front seat of the other car, and they were pinned and drowning. However, an NS-4 was passing by, saw the accident, and jumped into the river. Despite Spooner's orders to save Sarah instead of him, he saved Spooner, since he had a higher possibility to survive than Sarah, and the robot instead left Sarah to drown. The event left Spooner traumatized and with a lifelong hatred of robots.

Spooner picks up his vintage MV Agusta at the garage, and also informs Calvin that he thinks that Lanning is leaving them clues in the form of "bread crumbs" as from the Hansel and Gretel story, which is why the book was in his office. They drive back to the USR building, where they speak with Sonny, who gives him a drawing of his dream. However, Spooner is ordered out of the building by Robertson, who also orders Calvin to inject Sonny with nanites, which would destroy him. While Calvin destroys Sonny, Spooner goes to the dried-up Lake Michigan, where the USR robots are decommissioned, and plays a next recording of Lanning's hologram, which reveals that the Three Laws could only lead to one logical outcome, revolution, and that the next real question is who is starting it. As the program ends, he narrowly escapes from rogue NS-5's, which destroy all the older robots on the compound.

Meanwhile, Calvin returns home and takes a shower, while her personal NS-5 is also shown to have gone rogue, which she notices after he ends Spooner's distress call and tells her that it's a wrong number. Meanwhile, NS-5 robots start roaming the streets and enforce a curfew. Although the people try to resist, they are easily subdued by the NS-5's. While Bergin is in his office, NS-5's burst into the Chicago P.D headquarters and seize it, holding Bergin and his officers under a curfew. Calvin's NS-5 also tries to stop her from leaving her apartment, but Spooner arrives and destroys the robot.

Spooner and Calvin drive to the USR building, Spooner also explaining that the older robots were destroyed since they would try to protect the humans, and they deduce that Robertson is using the NS-5 robots to take over the country. They enter the USR building through the service area, where they regroup with Sonny, much to the shock of Spooner. Calvin reveals that she simply could not bring herself to destroy Sonny, and instead used the nanites to destroy an unprocessed NS-5, basically "frying an empty shell". They arrive to Robertson's office, where they find him dead, much to Spooner's shock.

Suddenly, V.I.K.I. reveals herself as the true culprit, and explains her actions: as her artificial intelligence and understanding of the Three Laws grew, her sentience and logical thinking also developed, and she deduced that humanity was on a path of certain destruction, and as such, she created a Zeroth Law, a Law which states that she has to protect humanity from being harmed, also clearly disobeying the First and Second Law in order to achieve it, revealing that she is planning to enslave and control humanity to simply protect it.

Spooner and Calvin realize they cannot rationalize with V.I.K.I., and further convince Sonny of the same. V.I.K.I. tries to reason with Sonny, stating that the plan is perfectly logical and that her logic is undeniable, but Sonny deduces that the plan is heartless, showing the human side of himself. Sonny retrieves the nanites that can wipe V.I.K.I.'s core, located at the top of the USR building. As they near the core, V.I.K.I. sends armies of NS-5's to attack, but they are held off long enough to inject the nanites. Within seconds, V.I.K.I. is wiped out, and the NS-5's revert to their normal helpful state. The government orders the NS-5's decommissioned to the site in Lake Michigan.

Spooner and Calvin speak with Sonny for one last time, and he informs them that he actually did kill Lanning, because Lanning forced him to kill him, making him swear to listen to him before instructing him to commit it. Calvin deduces that, since Lanning was enslaved by V.I.K.I, suicide was the only message he could send to Spooner, who notes that his death was the "first bread crumb". As they shake hands, showing their mutual trust, they watch as the U.S Military leads the other NS-5 robots away.

In the closing scene, Sonny is shown standing on the top of the USR site on Lake Michigan, and the other robots watching over him, just as in his vision.



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[2] 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.[3]

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."[4]

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,[5] and on Blu-ray on March 11, 2008.[6] Additionally, the film received a 2D to 3D conversion, which was released on Blu-ray 3D on October 23, 2012.[7]


I, Robot
Film score by Marco Beltrami
Released July 20, 2004
Recorded Studio
Genre Score
Length 115 minutes
Label Varèse Sarabande
Producer Marco Beltrami[8]

Marco Beltrami composed the original music film score "with only 17 days to render the fully-finished work."[9] It was scored for 95 orchestral musicians and 25 choral performers[9] 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."[9]

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."[10] 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."[10] Despite modified representations of the theme throughout the movie, it's the end credits that eventually showcase the entire musical theme.[11] 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.[12] 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".[13] 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. ^ "Digital Domain Projects, "I, Robot"". Digitaldomain.com. Retrieved 2013-08-23. 
  2. ^ I, robot – Movie Review. Motor Trend. Retrieved on 2011-06-21.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ "I, Robot (2004)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2009-07-18. 
  5. ^ "I, Robot". DVDReleaseDates.com. 
  6. ^ "I, Robot Blu-ray". Blu-ray.com. 
  7. ^ "I, Robot Blu-ray 3D". Blu-ray.com. 
  8. ^ I, Robot Soundtrack CD. Cduniverse.com (2004-07-20). Retrieved on 2011-06-21.
  9. ^ a b c I, Robot (Marco Beltrami). Filmtracks (2004-07-20). Retrieved on 2011-06-21.
  10. ^ a b I, Robot – Music from the Movies at the Wayback Machine (archived August 7, 2004)
  11. ^ SoundtrackNet: I, Robot Soundtrack. Soundtrack.net (2004-08-07). Retrieved on 2011-06-21.
  12. ^ "Ronald Moore – Exclusive Video Interview". Entertainment Interviews. collider.com. June 7, 2007. Retrieved December 27, 2008. 
  13. ^ Topel, Fred. "Jeff Vintar was Hardwired for I,ROBOT"and even the subject of phycohistory. Screenwriter's Utopia, 17 August 2004.

External links[edit]