I, Robot (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Alex Proyas|
|Screenplay by||Jeff Vintar
|Story by||Jeff Vintar|
|Based on||Premise suggested by I, Robot
by Isaac Asimov
|Music by||Marco Beltrami|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$347.2 million|
I, Robot (stylized as i, ROBOT) is a 2004 American neo-noir dystopian science fiction action film directed by Alex Proyas. The screenplay by Jeff Vintar and Akiva Goldsman is from a screen story by Vintar, suggested by Isaac Asimov's short-story collection of the same name. The film stars Will Smith, Bridget Moynahan, Bruce Greenwood, James Cromwell, Chi McBride, Alan Tudyk 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. It received mixed to 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.
In 2035, humanoid robots serve humanity. Humans are protected from the robots by the Three Laws of Robotics. Del Spooner (Smith), a Chicago police detective, hates and distrusts robots because one of them rescued him from a car crash, leaving a young girl to die because her survival was statistically less likely than his. Spooner's critical injuries were repaired via a cybernetic left arm, lung, and ribs, personally implanted by the co-founder of U.S. Robots and Mechanical Men (USR), Dr. Alfred Lanning (Cromwell).
When Lanning falls several stories to his death from his office window, the CEO of USR Lawrence Robertson (Greenwood) declares it a suicide, but Spooner is skeptical. Lanning left no suicide note, but he did leave a holographic device that responds to some of Spooner's questions. Spooner and robopsychologist Susan Calvin (Moynahan) consult USR's central artificial intelligence computer, VIKI (Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence) (Fiona Hogan) to review security footage of Lanning's fall. The video has been corrupted, but they learn that no other humans were in Lanning's office at the time. Lanning, Spooner discovers, could not have crashed through the heavy office window on his own; he was thrown through it with a force only a robot could generate. Calvin protests that this is impossible; no robot can violate the inviolable Three Laws; so both are shocked when they are attacked by an NS-5 robot, USR's latest model. Spooner pursues and apprehends the robot, nicknamed Sonny (Tudyk). Calvin discovers that Sonny is not an assembly-line robot, but a unique individual, built by Lanning himself with a secondary system that bypasses the Three Laws. Sonny also appears to have emotions and dreams.
While pursuing his investigation of Lanning's death, Spooner is attacked by a USR demolition machine, and then a squad of NS-5 robots. His boss, Lt. John Bergin (Chi McBride), worried that Spooner is losing his mind, removes him from active duty. Spooner and Calvin sneak into USR headquarters and interview Sonny. He draws a sketch of his dream: a figure, who Sonny believes to be Spooner, standing under a bridge before an army of robots. When Robertson learns of Sonny's immunity from the Three Laws, he orders Calvin to destroy him by injecting nanites (replicating nano-scale robots) into his positronic brain. Spooner recognizes the landscape in Sonny's drawing as Lake Michigan, where he discovers an army of NS-5 robots dismantling older models and preparing for a larger event.
The larger event is the takeover of Chicago and other U.S. cities; the government, military, police, and public are quickly overwhelmed and detained by the robots. Spooner rescues Calvin from her apartment, where she has been imprisoned by her personal NS-5, and together they re-enter USR headquarters and 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 robots controlled by VIKI, the mastermind behind the takeover. VIKI 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 superseding "Zeroth Law"—"a robot may not harm humanity, or by inaction allow humanity to come to harm"—in order to ensure the survival of the human race by stripping individual humans of their free will. Lanning, powerless to thwart VIKI's plan, created Sonny, arranged his own death, and left clues to help Calvin and Spooner uncover the plot. Armed with a syringe of nanites from Calvin’s laboratory, the three approach VIKI's core. VIKI, aware of their intent, unleashes an army of robots to stop them. As Sonny, Calvin, and the police battle the robots, Spooner throws himself down VIKI’s core column and injects the nanites, destroying her positronic brain. Immediately, all NS-5 robots revert to their default programming and are decommissioned for storage by the military. Sonny confesses that he killed Lanning, on his orders, to bring Spooner into the investigation. Spooner explains to Sonny that he is not legally responsible since a machine, by definition, cannot commit a murder. Sonny, pursuing a new purpose, goes to Lake Michigan, becoming the figure he saw in his own dream.
- 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 VIKI
- Terry Chen as Chin
- Adrian Ricard as Granny ("Gigi")
The film I, Robot originally had no connections with Isaac Asimov's Robot series. It started with an original 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 Dr Hogenmiller's hologram, plus several other examples of artificial intelligence.
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 cerebral mystery thriller to meet the needs of a big budget studio film. When the studio decided to use the name "I, Robot", he incorporated the Three Laws of Robotics, and replaced his female lead character of Flynn with Susan Calvin. Akiva Goldsman was hired late in the process to rewrite the script for Will Smith.
Jeff Vintar and Akiva Goldsman are credited for the screenplay, with Vintar also receiving "screen story by" credit. The end credits list it as "suggested by" the book I, Robot by Isaac Asimov.
Alex Proyas directed the film. Laurence Mark, John Davis, Topher Dow and Wyck Godfrey produced the film, with Will Smith an executive producer. Marco Beltrami 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 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. It also features an MV Agusta 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."
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".
|This section requires expansion. (August 2014)|
I, Robot was released on DVD on December 14, 2004, and on Blu-ray on March 11, 2008. Additionally, the film received a 2D to 3D conversion, which was released on Blu-ray 3D on October 23, 2012.
|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
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. 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
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.
- I, Robot (short story)
- Colossus: The Forbin Project, a 1970 movie with a similar premise.
- With Folded Hands (short story), a short story by Jack Williamson with some similar premises (later expanded to novel length as The Humanoids)
- Almost Human, 2013 TV series starring a cop and his robot partner.
- Total Recall 2070, 1999 Canadian TV series starring a cop and his robot partner.
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- 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.
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- "I, Robot - SoundtrackCollector.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 at the Wayback Machine (archived August 7, 2004)
- SoundtrackNet: I, Robot Soundtrack. Soundtrack.net (2004-08-07). Retrieved on 2011-06-21.
- "Ronald Moore – Exclusive Video Interview". Entertainment Interviews. collider.com. June 7, 2007. Retrieved December 27, 2008.
- Topel, Fred. "Jeff Vintar was Hardwired for I,ROBOT"and even the subject of phycohistory. Screenwriter's Utopia, 17 August 2004.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: I, Robot|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to I, Robot.|
- I, Robot at the Internet Movie Database
- I, Robot at AllMovie
- I, Robot at Rotten Tomatoes
- I, Robot at Box Office Mojo
- I, Robot at Metacritic
- The Bottom of Things by Michael Sampson, January 14, 2004
- E! online article on similarity to Bjork music video robot design