Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Peter T Chattaway

I, Robot

Recommended Posts

There was an item in the Vancouver Sun today about how the early-morning gunfights in Alex Proyas's adaptation of Isaac Asimov's I, Robot (starring Will Smith) were waking up the neighbours here. I have never read this particular story of Asimov's myself, but based on the Asimov books that I HAVE read, and based on this report, I suspect the story has been, shall we say, movie-ized somewhat.

This got me to wondering what other Asimov stories may have been filmed, and how faithful those films may have been to their source material. The only example that springs to mind right now is Bicentennial Man, which, again, I have not read, but I did see the film and I found it pretty schmaltzy. (What an odd double-bill it would make with A.I. Artificial Intelligence, though.) Any others?

In case anyone is wondering, the only Asimov novels I think I HAVE read are The Robots of Dawn, Nemesis and The Ugly Little Boy (the last of which was co-written with Robert Silverberg). I have also read his book on the early chapters of Genesis, In the Beginning..., as well as essays of his on Tolkien and H.G. Wells.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Alex Proyas's adaptation of Isaac Asimov's I, Robot (starring Will Smith)...I suspect the story has been, shall we say, movie-ized somewhat.

Even if they movie-ized it, the fact that Proyas is directing gives me some hope. I loved Dark City.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember seeing Nightfall in the video store, and I have vague recollections of seeing movie ads, but it might've gone direct to video. It's listed in IMDB.

One of the best-loved sci-fi short stories, but personally I don't think it could sustain a feature film. More like an extended Twilight Zone episode.

Read a lot of Asimov in my teenage years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Will Smith, eh? I don't see him in an Isaac Asimov mantle. In his earlier stuff, like I, Robot, sci-fi wasn't quite as lighthearted as it became later. I could really see Will Smith in The Stainless Steel Rat series or something like that. But Asimov's earlier stuff is so deadpan and serious that I wonder if Will Smith would corrupt that tone of his literature.

Sounds interesting though. I have no idea why all the Hollywood money never goes towards producing more good sci-fi, it isn't like there is a lack of mind-bending scripts out there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that Fantastic Voyage was based on an Asimov book. It's been so long since I've either read the book or watched the movie that all I remember is the general jist of it being about a voyage through the human body, like Inner Space, but not a comedy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought Fantastic Voyage was based on Asimov, but according to IMDB he doesn't have a writing credit for it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

SDG wrote:

: IMDb is wrong. Fantastic Voyage IS based on an Asimov novel of the same title.

That title did come to mind, but I always thought that was a novelization, which Asimov then spun off into a book-only sequel (Destination Brain -- is that really out of print now?). In fact, if you check the intro on this sample page, someone named Otto Klement says the story had "several authors", of whom Asimov was the last.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chalk it up to that Usborne book How Your Body Works, in which we see an office complex inside the human brain and a James Bond-style power boat zapping hairy, monstrous germs in the blood stream, but ever since I was a boy, one of my guilty pleasures has been that tiny genre of films that take place inside the human body. And while my DVD collection already included Joe Dante's Innerspace (1987), the Farrelly brothers' under-rated gross-out live-action comedy / buddy-cop cartoon hybrid Osmosis Jones (2001) and Woody Allen's Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex but Were Afraid to Ask (1972) -- which ends with a sequence in which Woody plays a paratrooping sperm while Burt Reynolds and Tony Randall bark out orders during intercourse from a command centre in the brain -- I had not picked up perhaps the greatest specimen of this genre, until last week.

Fantastic Voyage (1966) is the B-side on one of those cheap two-in-one discs that Fox put out a while ago (the A-side is Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, another 1960s submarine movie, which, as it happens, I have never seen). Interestingly, while I don't recognize many of the titles in director Richard Fleischer's filmography at the IMDB, one title I do recognize is the 1954 Disney adaptation of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea -- so he's obviously done the special-effects-heavy submarine-movie thing before.

I had seen this film once when I was a kid, but had completely forgotten it since, and the thing that jumps out at me most, now, is the cast -- the main hero is played by Stephen Boyd, who is probably best known as the villain in the 1959 version of Ben-Hur, and the oh-so-obvious traitor and saboteur (despite the film's attempts to keep us guessing) is played by Donald Pleasance, one year after he played Satan in The Greatest Story Ever Told and one year before he would play the first of the Blofelds whose face is seen by the camera in You Only Live Twice. I was also struck by the fact that Edmond O'Brien (perhaps best known for starring in the original 1950s version of D.O.A.) plays the Pentagon general who oversees the mission, while Arthur Kennedy plays the senior medical officer on board the sub; just a few years earlier, O'Brien was hired to play the journalist in Lawrence of Arabia, but he was replaced with Kennedy shortly before filming began, for health reasons I think. And then, of course, there is Raquel Welch, in one of her very first roles -- guess who gets to be attacked by anti-bodies, which crystallize on her uniform and thus need to be pulled off by all the other crewmen? (It is interesting, BTW, to see a 37-year-old film and to be taken back to a time, not too long ago, when people could still say "This is no place for a woman!" and never have that opinion explicitly contradicted.)

One thing I had not expected from this film was the religious stuff. In one scene, O'Brien's character, clearly affected by the mission he has authorized, refrains from squishing an ant; this prompts one of his colleagues to say, "You'll wind up a Hindu. You'll respect all forms of life, however small." But the main religious content comes in the exchanges between Kennedy's and Pleasance's characters. Kennedy, who was so cynical in Lawrence of Arabia, here gets to be the professional surgeon who has a hankering for the mystical; as the sub approaches the heart, someone comments on the meaning of the heartbeats, and Kennedy intones, "And every beat separates a man from eternity..." Later, as the crew watch corpuscles exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide, Kennedy calls it a "miracle" formed by a "creative intelligence", while Pleasance says it's "just an interchange of gases" produced by 500 million years of evolution. And the most involved exchange of this kind comes when their vessel enters the brain. First, outside the patient's body, we see one of the generals say to the other, "Imagine, they're in the human mind." Then, we see flashes of light within the brain as the neurons transmit their signals. Kennedy, watching this from the sub, waxes poetic:

Kennedy:
"Yet all the suns that light the corridors of the universe shine dim before the blazing of a single thought--"

Boyd:
"--proclaiming an incandescent glow in the myriad mind of man."

Pleasance:
Very poetic, gentlemen. Let me know when we pass the soul.

Kennedy:
The soul? The finite mind cannot comprehend infinity, and the soul, which comes from God, is infinite.

Later on, at a point in the film when we still do not know who the ship's saboteur is, Pleasance uses all this "gibberish" about God and the soul as evidence that Kennedy is a "fanatic", therefore Kennedy must be the traitor. Boyd disagrees -- he says he has known "fanatics", and Kennedy doesn't fit the pattern -- and of course, it turns out in the end to be the materialistic atheist, not the believer, who is the traitor. This is interesting to me, because it suggests not only that the movies of the 1960s were conservative enough to pay religion at least pro forma respect, but because it also suggests that materialist thought was widespread enough that a character like Pleasance's could, conceivably, hope to use someone else's religious sentiments against them like that. (Mind you, "religious" may not be the best adjective here -- there is no evidence in the film that Kennedy belongs to an actual RELIGION, per se.)

One other interesting detail is that the miniaturized submarine is supposed to start growing bigger again exactly 60 minutes after it has been shrunk, and a clock on the general's wall keeps track of the time -- but something like 62 minutes of film time goes by between the times when the clock starts and stops. So you could almost say the film takes place in "real time". smile.gif (And BTW, why is it that the people who escape to the tear duct grow bigger after 60 minutes, whereas the submarine that is left behind and attacked by white blood cells does not? Even if the submarine has been ripped apart, wouldn't the constituent components -- even just the miniaturized particles -- began to enlarge separately?)

Anyway, not an especially great movie, but a fun one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since it's on the flip side of the Fantastic Voyage DVD, I decided to take a look at Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea today, and I can see why the two films were put together -- both films were released in the 1960s by 20th Century Fox, both films take place on board submarines, the supporting casts for both films feature older actors on the verge of retirement (Edmond O'Brien in FV, Joan Fontaine and Peter Lorre in VttBotS) as well as fresh new actresses (Raquel Welch in FV, Barbara Eden in VttBotS), both films have the word "voyage" in the title, and both films make use of religious themes ... though each film takes these themes in a different direction.

VttBotS was produced and directed by Irwin Allen, who went on to produce such TV shows as Lost in Space, The Time Tunnel and Swiss Family Robinson, but who may be best known for helping to kick off the disaster-movie craze of the early '70s with The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno. Released in 1961, VttBotS is sort of a precursor to those disaster flicks -- an admiral is overseeing the maiden voyage of a cutting-edge atomic submarine when the Van Allen belts coincidentally burst into flame and fill the sky with fire; the admiral proposes going to the Mariana Trench and firing a nuclear missile into Earth's orbit, detonating it there and sending all the radiation out into space and thereby saving the Earth ... but the United Nations considers his plan too risky and votes to gamble that the problem will essentially solve itself; the admiral says he cannot take that chance, and so, despite the fact that he never makes contact with the President and is thus never authorized to do what he does, he sets out unilaterally to face this threat to the planet on his own. The politics are eerily prescient, and the fact that the movie portrays a nuclear bomb saving the world seems a LOT more in keeping with the disaster films of the past decade (Deep Impact, Armageddon, The Core) than I would have expected of a film produced at the height of the Cold War. (Keep in mind, this film came out just a year before the Cuban Missile Crisis.)

Unlike FV, which makes a materialist atheist the main villain, the most dangerous character in VttBotS is a religious fanatic (Michael Ansara, who appeared briefly as Judas in 1953's The Robe) who keeps on saying things to the effect that when God has ordained that we should die, it is not our place to try to save our lives. The captain of the sub constantly berates this chracter for his "defeatism" and "fatalism", but interestingly enough, there is ANOTHER character on board who turns out to be guilty of sabotage, namely the psychiatrist played by Fontaine; and it is she, not the fanatic, who is punished most decisively by the film, when she falls into Lorre's shark tank. (Lorre himself is no stranger to submarine movies, of course, having appeared in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea seven years prior to this film.) The admiral who saves the day represents an interesting point on the spectrum somewhere between the psychiatrist who thinks the admiral is crazy and the religious fanatic who thinks the admiral is going against God's will; the admiral represents a sort of visionary cross between science and religion, though his religion consists mostly of tacking the words "with God's help" onto his scientific plan for saving the world.

(I wonder, if the raft of Christian movie-reviewing web sites and publications that now exist had been around back then, what would the movie scene have looked like to us? In 1960 alone, the Bible epic, a genre that usually substituted humanistic platitudes for religious beliefs anyway, was beginning to die out -- appearing in its place were secular epics like Spartacus -- and films like Elmer Gantry and Inherit the Wind portrayed people of faith as gullible bumpkins at best. I cannot help but see VttBotS somewhere within that context.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting. My girlfriend lent me her copy of I, Robot the other day, but I put it aside to read The Stepford Wives -- and in the meantime, I discovered (or was reminded) that Harlan Ellison wrote a screenplay based on I, Robot in the late '70s, which was published in serial form in a magazine in the late '80s and was ultimately published as a book in 1994. So once I've read Asimov's book, I'll have to read Ellison's screenplay, and then brace myself for the sheer non-Asimov, non-Ellison Will Smith movie that's coming out in a couple months.

In the meantime, the opening paragraph of Asimov's intro addresses the issues raised above re: Fantastic Voyage:

I have never had a novel or story converted into a motion picture or television play. Some people think that the motion picture Fantastic Voyage is mine, but that's wrong. The motion picture script existed, and was written by Jerome Bixby and others, and I was asked to make a novel out of it. I finally agreed and, because I work quickly and movie people work slowly, the derived novel came out six months before the movie. That made it seem as though the novel was original and the movie an adaptation, but the reverse was the fact. . . .

A mediocre book can be translated into a good movie and a good book can be translated into a mediocre movie. The point is, though, that if a good book is translated into a good movie (or, less frequently, vice versa) this is not because there was a literal conversion of one into another, scene by scene. There would have to be differences, even radical ones, if both are to be good.

This is especially true if the book is written by one person and the movie adaptation written by another, each person being equally imaginative and creative. Note that "equally" does not mean "identically." If the adapter follows slavishly the model with which he is presented, as I did in the case of Fantastic Voyage, he is denying himself. That is why I was never satisfied with Fantastic Voyage even though it did very well in hardcover and superlatively well in paperback. In fact, that is why I finally wrote Fantastic Voyage II -- published in September 1987 -- which is, in a way, a similar story, but written as I would write it so that it is totally different from the movie, and from the earlier novel.

Having seen Fantastic Voyage again a few months ago, it occurs to me that the film makes its one materialist atheist a bad guy, whereas, if I'm not mistaken, Asimov himself was a materialist atheist -- so I wonder what he did with that element in the story, in either of the books he wrote. I guess I'll have to read those TOO some day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Slightly off topic but heh.

Does anyone know the name of the Asimov short story where eart is trying to join the league of nations on the basis that is now got nuclear weapons and/or space travel, but they refuse on the grounds it has nothing else.

And what collection of his short stories its from. I read it about 12 years ago and its stuck with me, but I can't for the life of me remember what its called.

Any ideas (you might need to post with "spoilers" btw.

Matt

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Peter, thanks for the corrective info about authorship of Fantastic Voyage.

FWIW I completely agree with your analysis of religiosity in both this and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, the latter of which I found to be one of the worst cases of a potential Register Video Pick that I had to abandon primarily because of the last five minutes. mad.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Could some moderator or other change the title of this thread to "I, Robot" (but keep the subheadline as is, except perhaps without the parentheses)? I have tried to do it myself a few times, but the system won't let me.

Anyway, I thought I would post here an e-mail I sent to a few of my Asimovian friends:

- - -

So, I just finished reading [my girlfriend's] copy of Asimov's I, Robot, and I am now 60-ish pages into Harlan Ellison's 200-ish screenplay adaptation. Interesting stuff. Harlan really, REALLY goes after the religious angle in a way that Asimov was content to leave more or less in the background, doesn't he? Obviously, it's too early to comment all that much on Harlan's screenplay, but as for Asimov's book (really just a collection of short stories linked by interstitial scenes of an interviewer speaking to Susan Calvin; no doubt the short stories themselves have been tweaked some, e.g. I'd bet good money those two or three paragraphs on Calvin's visit to a certain museum in the 'Robbie' story were a later insertion) ... well, definitely interesting, but maybe it says something about our increasingly sophisticated sensibilities these days that I found several of these stories from the '40s to be a tad predictable; or maybe Asimov wasn't quite that good a writer yet when he wrote those stories.

I remember [an atheist friend of mine] telling me once about the story in which a robot on a space station starts up his own religion, and what struck me as especially interesting about that story, now that I read it, was how the robot based his religion on his own REASON, by which he REJECTED the tradition that the humans were trying to hand down to him -- so the story was not an EXACT parallel to the rationalist rejection of religion that led to the Enlightenment etc., which I might have expected Asimov to write.

I also found the ending rather chilling, with Machines controlling the world and manipulating everything for our "betterment" -- kind of like the mechano-totalitarian vision espoused by The Day the Earth Stood Still, but without the threat of violence (because the Machines work their magic through the subtler forces of economics, etc.). Felt VERY 1950.

Come to think of it, the robot in that religion story was basing a lot of his arguments on some pretty unwarranted assumptions about the alleged superiority of machines to humans ... and the Machines that run the planet at the end serve a similar function, presenting a sort of materialistic, boringly benevolent alternative to the all-good, all-knowing, all-powerful God who mysteriously allows evil. Asimov seems to buy the religious robot's assumption that robots are better than people, to some degree -- what's more, he seems to buy the idea that removing suffering from the equation is THE good thing -- and suffice to say I don't agree.

Of course, I fail to see how ANY of this relates to the new Will Smith movie -- which seems to me like a rip-off of The Animatrix.

- - -

I'm not quite finished Ellison's screenplay yet, but it's interesting to see how he throws in a lot of what I believe Asimov calls "visceral" material to complement the more "cerebral" elements in Asimov's story. Most of this "visceral" material comes in the interstitial scenes, in which a reporter throws punches and stuff while arguing with editors and trying to track down Susan Calvin.

One thing that amazes me is the degree to which Ellison introduces aliens and teleportation chambers and various other things that are simply not a part of the original book. Plus, a lot of the things he adds to the story would require major special-effects work -- as I read the screenplay, I constantly find myself imagining how these things would be done with today's CGI, but then I force myself to remember that Ellison wrote this script in the 1970s!! Think, "original Star Wars." Think, "Battlestar Galactica." Think, "Star Trek: The Motion Picture." What Ellison wrote seems, to me, to be way, way more complex and ambitious than what we see in those films -- he even describes a shot that starts very tightly on a raindrop on a leaf, then zooms out and out and out and out until the entire city in which that leaf is situated is just a tiny element in a wide shot of the jungle basin in which the city is situated; how would such a Peter Jackson-ish shot have been POSSIBLE back then? (That's shot 82, in case anyone wants to look it up.)

Anyhoo, must finish this book before I return it to the library.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Repeating request for a change of thread title (see previous post) ...

Figured I might as well re-post something else that I recently e-mailed to my friends:

- - -

Y'know, one thing that occurred to me a day or two ago is that Ellison, despite packing some rampant religiophobia into the story on a more superficial level, also takes the story in a more messianic or Christian direction, albeit one that is saturated in materialistic humanism.

To wit, instead of ending the story as Asimov does, with a depiction of the human race coming completely under the control of a complex network of faceless, nameless, but essentially benevolent Machines, Ellison ends the story with a single robot rescuing the human race from the subtle rise of a new form of MALEVOLENT machine, before turning the fate of humanity back to the human race itself ... and Ellison visualizes this "rescue" in a series of virtual-reality contests between robot and Machine that pretty much beg to be called "biblical". What's more, Ellison transforms Susan Calvin into the "mommy" of this robot (in Asimov's book, she was just an observer who SUSPECTED that this person was a robot, but she had no proof) ... and since she is depicted as someone who knew nothing about the ways of romantic or sexual intimacy (see the "Liar!" episode), Ellison has made her, in essence, the virgin mother to his messiah robot.

- - -

I imagine Ellison will write a wonderfully vicious and mean and nasty and bileful review of the Will Smith movie when it comes out. Could be entertaining.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

AlanW wrote:

: OK, but next time please try to put the name of the film in the topic title so folks

: can find it.

Tried, and failed, as per the second-to-last post before this one. (Just for the record.)

(BTW, couldn't the new thread be merged into this one?)

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmmm, if I "yelled" at you, it was probably because you merged an old thread into a new one (thereby nullifying all the links to it that may have accumulated in other threads over the months and/or years), instead of vice versa.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm giving I-Robot a B-.

The story is decent, focused, stronger than I expected.

The special effects are inconsistent, and often severely unconvincing. The car chase is especially weak. The city, especially in the transportation tunnels, looks way too slick, with a stainless steel and chrome glow to it that mimics Janusz Kaminski's cinematography in Minority Report but is never as good as that. But I eventually came to accept the artificiality of the whole thing, the way we come to accept the simplistic environments of Tron. Will Smith is a real man trapped in an computer-generated reality. (Plus, that speeding Audi looks like some kind of Tron car.)

I actually felt sorry for Will Smith during this film. Both the actor and his character seem like a real, thinking, intelligent, and sad individual surrounded by very very dumb people and a lot of machines. His only real friend is his grandmother. We get a lot of shots of his pumped-up body, which only serves to remind us that he worked very very hard in training for Ali, and yet still hasn't been accepted as a lead dramatic actor... he's still stuck in early-July sci-fi flicks, firing big big guns at things that aren't really there, running from government conspiracies (Enemy of the State).

Everything Detective Spooner (that's his name) says prompts responses to make him look like "the only sane man on earth." The fact that he has very few truly clever quips and virtually nothing very intelligent to say only makes matters worse.

This is one of those films where the hero's conversations with people go something like this:

BAD GUY OR SCIENTIST: We hope to [insert long, convoluted techno-speak.]

SMITH: Yeah, yeah, whatever. Tell me in plain English!

BAD GUY OR SCIENTIST: We're going to build robots.

The film will play well with people who are intimidated by educated people, scientific people, technology-savvy people. It will play well with people who don't like cops, and who love to see law enforcement shown up as stupid and ignorant.

But the conspiracy theorists and Michael Moore fans to whom the film preaches the loudest probably won't go for it. As it gets to the end, undeniably "RELEVANT" lines start coming our way: "We decided to take away some of your freedoms in order to protect your freedom." Sounds a little funny, such a countercultural commentary coming from a film that is unapologetic about its product placement (Audi, JVC, Converse). It's also funny considering that, after making such a blanket statement about the way technology and corporations are sticking it to the little guy, the answer that the film comes up with is a vigilante who walks like a gangsta and totes a really really big gun even when his badge has been taken away.

I'm ranting. The film admirably sticks to its full-speed ahead narrative. It's entertaining enough to pass as a Saturday matinee in the summertime, if you just want to take some friends to a movie and take a break. It's no Wild, Wild West, thank goodness... but then again, it's not nearly as satisfying as Men in Black, or even Enemy of the State, either.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I actually felt sorry for Will Smith during this film. Both the actor and his character seem like a real, thinking, intelligent, and sad individual surrounded by very very dumb people and a lot of machines. His only real friend is his grandmother. We get a lot of shots of his pumped-up body, which only serves to remind us that he worked very very hard in training for Ali, and yet still hasn't been accepted as a lead dramatic actor... he's still stuck in early-July sci-fi flicks, firing big big guns at things that aren't really there, running from government conspiracies (Enemy of the State).

I wonder...and I ask this as someone who likes Will Smith (my father and I were noting how even in the lamest of films, he can be quite entertaining) and have not seen Ali...does he have the chops for regular dramas?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FWIW, I made the Minority Report and Ali connections while watching this film too, Jeff.

I also felt let down by the car-chase, the sheer insubstantiality of which was rammed home, for me, when the chase came to an end and we see a car grind to a halt and we can just TELL that we're FINALLY looking at a PHYSICAL object.

I was disappointed with this film as a whole, actually, since its sleek visual look (and two-dimensional hologram effect!) and exploration of security-type themes were very reminiscent of Minority Report, yet the film felt rather weightless, both visually and thematically, compared to Spielberg's effort. And this, despite the fact that Minority Report had a script that made No Sense Whatsoever, whereas I, Robot kinda-sorta held together, at least comparatively.

That said, I also have to say that this film completely reverses the thrust of Isaac Asimov's book -- and I couldn't be happier! Asimov's quasi-utopian idea that machines will take over the world and make life better for us gave me the willies (see the relevant earlier post of mine above), and it was fascinating to see this film explore the more nightmarish side of that -- though in order to do so, the film has to COMPLETELY jettison the subtlety of Asimov's book. There's no, no, no way the machines in HIS story would have been jumping en masse onto vehicles and smashing their windows while moving at high speeds, etc. There are much subtler, more logical, more effective ways of manipulating the world.

Incidentally, the bit about the robot's dream does not come from I, Robot but from another short story featuring Susan Calvin, called 'Robot Dreams' (which is available in an anthology bearing the same title). I don't know all that much about Asimov, though, apart from these books and a couple others, so it's possible his take on the whole utopian thing got more complex with time.

Jeffrey Overstreet wrote:

: But I eventually came to accept the artificiality of the whole thing, the way we

: come to accept the simplistic environments of Tron.

Nah, I couldn't. Tron is set inside a computer. This film is not (although, if they had stuck with Ellison's script, at least one sequence WOULD have been set inside a computer!).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Someone recently said somewhere that "King Arthur" was supposed to be "the thinking person's summer blockbuster" for this year. It wishes. As flawed as "I, Robot" is, it does more with its explorations of revolution and the "ghost in the machine" to earn that title than "Arthur".

I'd heard that Proyas lost creative control in post - I don't know if that's true, but if it is, that didn't tank the film like I went in thinking it would. It still feels likes it's 2/3 of a usual Proyas film, and 1/3 a typical Will Smith action film. Smith's very specific action/comedy style has been badly shoehorned into less appropriate places ("Enemy of the State"), but "I, Robot" still feels a little too funny considering so much of it has to do with machines and robotics. On the other hand, Smith's quips do lighten the tone for what would otherwise be a straight-ahead futuristic police procedural.

The obviously "Minority Report" visuals were distracting, but more distracting was the underground car tunnel action scene. Not only have we seen these tunnels in almost every futuristic city ever committed to film, but the robot carrier vehicles that surround Smith are right out of "Phantom Menace"!

I rank "I, Robot" as #14 of the thirty 2004 films I've seen. It's after "Anchorman", but before "Lost Skeleton of Cadavra".

JiM T

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jim Tudor wrote:

: Not only have we seen these tunnels in almost every futuristic city ever

: committed to film, but the robot carrier vehicles that surround Smith are right out

: of "Phantom Menace"!

Oh, good catch! I think I've been too successful at putting that film out of my mind. smile.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great article, Jeff -- though as I say in my review, I actually don't mind that the film betrays Asimov's vision, at least when it comes to his utopian belief that robots will essentially take the place of God and save humanity from itself.

BTW, does anyone know if Harlan Ellison has written anything on this film yet?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×