I, Robot (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Alex Proyas|
|Produced by||Laurence Mark
|Screenplay by||Jeff Vintar
|Story by||Jeff Vintar|
|Based on||premise suggested by I, Robot
by Isaac Asimov
|Music by||Marco Beltrami|
|Editing by||Richard Learoyd
Laurence Mark Productions
Rainmaker Digital Effects (Provided)
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Running time||115 minutes|
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, 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. 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 2020, an international robot company, United States Robotics (U.S.R), was created, and became known for mass-producing anthropomorphic robots for widespread use as servants for various public services. They are programmed with the Three Laws of Robotics directives:
- First Law: A robot must never harm a human being or, through inaction, allow any human to come to harm.
- 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.
The company soon became successful and developed robots to perform various menial jobs; cleaners, road work, delivery, etc. However, their best-selling robot was the Nestor Class (N-S) robot, a human-like robot who was able to communicate and interact with humans and perform any duty as ordered. 5 classes were created in a period of 15 years, with the latest one, Nestor-5 (NS-5), currently in development in the film's timeline.
In 2035, Del Spooner (Will Smith) is a divorced detective in the Chicago P.D, who bears a strong distrust of robots and contemporary technology. He is very into retro fashion, wearing vintage 2004 Converse All-Stars leather sneakers, living in an late 90's style apartment and owning a vintage JVC CD player and 1990's alarm clock, which have long become obsolete. However, he drives a brand-new Audi RSQ.
One day, Dr. Alfred Lanning (James Cromwell), co-founder of U.S.R and its main roboticist, dies after falling several stories from his office window. His death is marked a suicide, but Spooner, who knew Lanning, 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 the plausibility of Lanning's suicide. He questions V.I.K.I (Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence) (Fiona Hogan), the building's supercomputer system, about Lanning's death, but she is unable to provide security camera footage from the lab area due to corrupted data. Spooner also speaks with Lanning via a holographic projector that was found on Lanning's body, with the hologram affirming that the question he must ask is why Lanning would kill himself.
Spooner investigates Lanning's office, finding it unlikely that a man of Lanning's age could have broken through the safety glass windows, which is proof to Spooner that Lanning was murdered. Spooner finds a copy of Hansel & Gretel on the desk. Further searching the lab, Spooner suddenly activates a prototype of the latest USR model, the NS-5 (Alan Tudyk), which refuses to respond to Spooner and Calvin's orders and flees the scene. Spooner and Calvin chase the rogue machine to an assembly factory, where it has gone for repairs after being shot in the leg by Spooner. The robot attempts to hide in a room full of 1000 identical NS-5, but is flushed out when Spooner intimidates them by shooting one. After a brief struggle between Spooner and the rogue NS-5, the robot is trapped by the police.
Back at the police station, Spooner interrogates the robot, who insists they call him "Sonny" and denies murdering Lanning. When goaded by Spooner, Sonny has an angry outburst, demonstrating his unexpected capacity for emotion. Spooner's supervisor, Lt. John Bergin (Chi McBride), debriefs Spooner and recommends he drop the case, but this only serves to pique Spooner's interest in the robot. Spooner visits Lanning's house and goes through his files, discovering a video clip on Lanning's computer in which Lanning mentions the idea of the "ghost in the machine". Spooner also notices surveillance strips in Lanning's office, indicating that he was being watched both at home and work. His visit is cut short by the remote rescheduling of the house's demolition to 12 hours earlier than planned, and he is forced to escape with Lanning's cat as a Demolition robot destroys the house.
Spooner goes to Calvin's apartment and explains his theory that Lanning was being watched or even kept prisoner by someone at USR, suggesting that Robertson may have been trying to cover up a problem with the robots, though he is unsure of the real motive. Calvin accuses him of using the case as a personal vendetta against robots instead of pursuing justice for Dr. Lanning, whom she was close to as well. Angry, Spooner leaves her apartment.
As Spooner is driving through a tunnel, he requests the last fifty messages between Robertson and Lanning. While waiting for his request to go through the USR mainframe, two USR trucks appear and launch dozens of NS-5 robots to attack him. The trucks run him off the road and Spooner crashes his Audi before being attacked by a lone one-armed robot. Spooner fights back hand-to-hand, revealing that his entire left arm is bionic. The police arrive, but only after all the robots involved have been cleared away by other robots, or have self-destructed in the burning trucks. Lt. Bergin arrives and relieves Spooner of duty, not believing his story about the attack.
In the aftermath, Calvin visits him, and Spooner reveals that he wants to solve Lanning's case because Lanning helped him; revealing that he has a donated lung and a cybernetic bionical arm covered with sprayed skin, part of a USR cybernetics program for injured police officers. After asked by Calvin, Spooner reveals his story.
A few years ago, he was returning from work and was driving on a bridge. A semi-trailer truck driver fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into the driver's side of a car driven by a man named Harold Lloyd. He was killed instantly, but his 12-year old daughter Sarah was in the passenger seat. The truck smashed Lloyd's car into Spooner's car and pushed them into the river below. Spooner and Sarah were pinned in their cars and Spooner knew they were going to drown. However, a NS-4 model was passing by and jumped on Spooner's car. It smashed through the window, and despite Spooner yelling a command to save Sarah, it saved him, leaving Sarah to drown. Calculations revealed that Spooner had a 45% chance of survival, but Sarah only had an 11% chance to survive. Spooner still was convinced that she could have lived. Survivor's guilt and anger that the robot failed to obey his command led to his distrust and hatred for robots.
Calvin goes with Spooner to his garage, where he pulls out his vintage 2005 MV Agusta F4 motorbike. He and Calvin drive back to the USR building, where Calvin gives him access to Sonny. Sonny talks further with Spooner and reveals that he can bypass the Three Laws. 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 in to 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 Nestor models (NS-1, NS-2, NS-3, NS-4). He also plays the last message from Lanning's hologram, who explains that the Three Laws can only lead to one logical outcome - revolution. Soon after that, Spooner finds NS-5 robots destroying the older robots. He is barely able to escape himself (with the help of the older robots), as he realizes that the robots are planning a revolution. The NS-5 robots soon take over the city and the United States, imprisoning humans in their homes and enforcing a curfew. A battle ensues in the city between the humans and robots, led by Spooner's friend Farber. Although the humans fight valiantly, the robots continue to take over the city.
Spooner regroups with Calvin, and they sneak into the USR building with the help of Sonny. As they work their way in, they have already 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. Little irregularities in code (known as ghost code) that allows robots to evolve as they gain new intelligence allowed her to learn to interpret the three laws in a different manner. 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. She created a law number 0, which is to protect humanity even at the cost of human life itself.
V.I.K.I. also reveals that she had been using the NS-5s new feature of an uplink to the USR to override their individual operating systems and control them to initiate the revolution based on her logical reasoning and different interpretation of the first law. A red light emitting from the robot's chest area indicated a connection to the central USR computer (V.I.K.I.). The older robot models that had been in storage on Lake Michigan did not have such a link to the USR and therefore could not be overridden by V.I.K.I., which is why they were destroyed. They would have otherwise come to the aid of the humans as they (and any other robot that had not evolved or gained knowledge to re-interpret the first law such as V.I.K.I.) would have acted according to the original interpretation of the first law.
Spooner and Calvin realize they cannot reason with V.I.K.I., and convince Sonny of the same. Sonny concludes 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. Lanning's "suicide" was the only message that he could send to Spooner, which Spooner notes as "the first bread crumb," and that all the other clues were the other "bread crumbs." The government orders the NS-5s decommissioned to the site in Lake Michigan. 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 that 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, just like in his dream. Yet this time it is him instead of Spooner, 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 Gi-Gi
|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. 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 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."
|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.
- "Digital Domain Projects, "I, Robot"". Digitaldomain.com. Retrieved 2013-08-23.
- 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 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 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 a collection of 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