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 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 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. Lanning dies after falling several stories from his office and his death is labelled suicide by company 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 Lt. John Bergin allows Spooner to interrogate him. 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 atop a hill, who Sonny believes is Spooner. Robertson believes Sonny’s creation was a mistake and asks Calvin to terminate him for the sake of the company. Calvin proceeds to destroy Sonny, but instead fakes it to fool Robertson.

Recognising the location in Sonny’s sketch as Lake Michigan, Spooner travels there and addresses Lanning’s hologram, learning the Three Laws will lead to a revolution 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. Spooner rescues Calvin from her apartment and they break into USR, reuniting with Sonny. Believing Robertson is responsible, the trio go to his office but find he has been murdered. V.I.K.I. is revealed to be the true culprit, believing humanity is too self-destructive and enforcing a Zeroth Law to ensure mankind’s survival at the cost of their freedoms.

Spooner, Calvin and Sonny decide to destroy V.I.K.I.’s positronic brain using nanites, and race to her core in the building’s centre. Sonny retrieves the nanites from Calvin’s laboratory, realising his purpose was to kill V.I.K.I. Spooner and Sonny face off against an army of robots, but Calvin nearly falls to her death until saved by Sonny. Spooner throws himself down to V.I.K.I.’s core with the nanites and destroys her positronic brain and restores the robots to their original programming. All of the NS-5 robots are decommissioned for storage. Sonny is revealed to have killed Lanning after all, forced to make a promise to fulfil his requests, but Spooner clears him of the murder since machines cannot commit murder per the law. Sonny pursues a new purpose and goes to aid the other robots, standing on the hill before them as his dream depicted.



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.[3]

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.[3]

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[4] 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.[5] 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."[6]

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,[7] and on Blu-ray on March 11, 2008.[8] Additionally, the film received a 2D to 3D conversion, which was released on Blu-ray 3D on October 23, 2012.[9]


I, Robot
Film score by Marco Beltrami
Released July 20, 2004
Recorded Studio
Genre Score
Length 44:06 minutes[10]
Label Varèse Sarabande
Producer Marco Beltrami[11]

Marco Beltrami composed the original music film score "with only 17 days to render the fully-finished work."[12] It was scored for 95 orchestral musicians and 25 choral performers[12] 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."[12]

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."[13] 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."[13] Despite modified representations of the theme throughout the movie, it's the end credits that eventually showcase the entire musical theme.[14] 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

Possible Sequel[edit]

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.[15] 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".[16] 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. ^ a b "Jeff Vintar was Hardwired for I,Robot". screenwritersutopia. Retrieved 2015-05-27. 
  4. ^ I, robot – Movie Review. Motor Trend. Retrieved on 2011-06-21.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ "I, Robot (2004)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2009-07-18. 
  7. ^ "I, Robot". DVDReleaseDates.com. 
  8. ^ "I, Robot Blu-ray". Blu-ray.com. 
  9. ^ "I, Robot Blu-ray 3D". Blu-ray.com. 
  10. ^ "I, Robot - SoundtrackCollector.com". 
  11. ^ I, Robot Soundtrack CD. Cduniverse.com (2004-07-20). Retrieved on 2011-06-21.
  12. ^ a b c I, Robot (Marco Beltrami). Filmtracks (2004-07-20). Retrieved on 2011-06-21.
  13. ^ a b I, Robot – Music from the Movies at the Wayback Machine (archived August 7, 2004)
  14. ^ SoundtrackNet: I, Robot Soundtrack. Soundtrack.net (2004-08-07). Retrieved on 2011-06-21.
  15. ^ "Ronald Moore – Exclusive Video Interview". Entertainment Interviews. collider.com. June 7, 2007. Retrieved December 27, 2008. 
  16. ^ Topel, Fred. "Jeff Vintar was Hardwired for I,ROBOT"and even the subject of phycohistory. Screenwriter's Utopia, 17 August 2004.

External links[edit]