“I Robot” (PG-13) – A Review

In the not so distance future, when Lake Michigan is all dried, Will Smith will once again save planet Earth from our worst nightmare–killer robots. Mr. July makes his presence felt once again in the sci-fi adventure, “I, Robot.”

As Detective Del Spooner, Smith wisecracks and struts his way towards mankind’s salvation with his singular arrogant but endearing charm. Smith now ranks second, right behind Bruce Willis, on the all-time list of world-saving efforts nudging just ahead of Ben Affleck. What a career!

All kidding aside, the benchmarks of a quality science fiction story are allegory, symbolism, and irony. With Isaac Asimov as the father of its premise, “I, Robot” could do no better and fundamentally the writers (Jeff Vintar and Akiva Goldsman) have crafted a screenplay that is replete with the living irony of our PC world; a world paralyzed by political correctness that happens to run by personal computers; beyond that “I, Robot” is merely standard summer-time blockbuster flair.

Detective Spooner is a minority who happens to be prejudiced against the newest of minorities-robots. His fear of modern technology is so great, his home stereo is still controlled with an antiquated, infrared remote control rather than voice activated technology. Smith climbs darkly into the part, cloaking himself as he has rarely done in the past. His wit remains, but he is more subdued, perhaps even somber. His quips fire quickly, but the rest of his delivery is more deliberate. This is Will Smith with some minor alterations. Whether or not the audience accepts it remains to be seen.

There are three laws that govern all robots.

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey orders given by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the first law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first or second law.

These three laws supposedly provide a perfect circle of protection for human beings, but like so many “protections” in this world these three laws merely provide the illusion of safety and the plot completely hinges on them–and that’s not too shabby a premise. However, this movie constantly drifts in and out of greatness.

Bridget Moynahan adds some good looks as Dr. Susan Calvin, but Vintar and Goldsman miss the mark here as well, never allowing her character to become the plot twist she ought to have been.

Moynahan isn’t the only thing pleasing to the eye about “I, Robot.” The entire film is CGI-candy dipped in acid. Director Alex Provas draws heavily from the new Matrix style of filmmaking, proving once more what a significant film The Matrix really was. By now, Provas and his team are neither stealing nor lending tribute (although there are a couple of playful nods as were found in “Underworld” and other recent films); this is how we will watch movies, special effects laden films in particular, from now on. The robots are seamlessly interwoven with all the players making this film a whole lot of fun to watch.

Overall I give I, Robot a mediocre rating-RENTAL. It’s one of Smith’s better roles and the effects are good, but the story just came up a little short for me and they failed to give Moynahan and her part the significance warranted by the story-line.

From a Christian Perspective (Warning! Possible Spoilers Ahead!)

“I, Robot” is not for children or teens. In fact, it has no business being rated PG-13. The combination of gratuitous nudity (male, backside), foul language, and Matrix-style violence would normally push this flick right back to the editing room to be trimmed for that glorious PG-13 rating, except we’re talking Will Smith here and Smith films are afforded large concessions for vulgarities by the MPAA for some reason. However, there are no sex scenes (or even kissing scenes for that matter) in this film whatsoever. Themes included letting machines do things we ought to be doing, racial prejudice, and predestination.