It\'s 2035 A.D., where robots are everyday objects and are programmed to live alongside humans. Detective Del Spooner is called out to investigate the apparent suicide of the scientist behind these robots, Dr. Alfred Lanning. Spooner suspects that the death might not be a suicide, but the result of one of the robots. All robots are programmed by three laws, but Spooner starts to wonder if a robot can in fact feel emotions, and possibly murder. But if Spooner\'s suspicions are true, he is going to have a hard time convincing everyone.
 

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An easy sci-fi film to get lost in.

Since the early days of cinema filmmakers have brought to life stories about man's relationship with machines, in particular the fraught relationship between humans and robots. Many of these synthetic figures' created, as god would have it, in man's own image – have gone on to become some of the most feared, revered and iconic in movie history. And the very best droids have endured through the ages, whether they be the good, the bad or the ugly.

Fritz Lang's beloved Maria has endured for almost one hundred years now, she of the silent future-shock masterpiece Metropolis (1927). So has the ominous steely man Gort from The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951), the automatons gone awry in Westworld (1971) and George Lucas' kid-friendly C3PO and R2D2 from the Star Wars series. As have the deadly Replicants in Ridley Scott's stunning Bladerunner (1982), the various Terminators of the three Terminator films, newer but lovable entry Gigolo Joe (Jude Law) from AI, Spielberg's posthumous Kubrick collaboration from and let's not forget good bot Bishop in Aliens (1986) and the very bad bot Ash (Ian Holm) in Alien (1979).


Other than the psychopathic killing machine of Robocop 2 (!), perhaps the mother of all artificial-intellects-gone-bad on screen is the omnipotent HAL, the computer which went on a killing rampage in Stanley Kubrick's superb adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke's novel, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1969).

Most SF movies originate in science fiction literature with the work of everyone from Michael Crichton and Stanislaw Lem to Philip K. Dick, Arthur C. Clarke and William Gibson pillaged for the big screen. Now it is the late writer Isaac Asimov's turn again, after the woeful 1999 feel good film adaptation of his short story The Bicenntennial Man by eternally middlebrow director Chris Columbus (Harry Potter & The Sorcerer?s Stone).

I, Robot is Australian director Alex Proyas US$105 million Hollywood blockbuster. As suggested by Asimov's I, Robot, his 1950 collection of nine short stories about robots and whether they could possibly harm humans, or, defy Asimov's famed three laws of robotics' which protect humankind against this from happening. Originally named Elijah Baley, our cop who doesn't much like robots here is Del Spooner, Will Smith, and has been borrowed from other Asimov stories in his Robot Series'.

Perhaps the studio should have qualified the authorship credit with loosely suggested by for those die-hard Asimov fans expecting to see a more literal interpretation of his droid stories. Instead Asimov's three laws of robotics from I, Robot have been integrated into another screenplay (originally entitled Hardwired), which writer Jeff Vintar developed with Proyas about a detective who investigates the impossible: an apparent murder at the hands of a robot. A Beautiful Mind scribe Akiva Goldsman came in to give it a final polish and I, Robot the blockbuster was born. The good thing about this film is its lack of pretension. While its theories are simple, and the almighty three laws of robotics are hammered home like a mantra, it is not simplistic like the Global Warming 101 theorem underlying The Day After Tomorrow, which was so dumb it was stupefying.

Self-professed Asimov' fan Will Smith also shows restraint as Del Spooner, although he could have gotten away with a more emotionally tormented interpretation of his character closer to that of Harrison Ford's Deckard in Bladerunner. Admirably Smith never overshadows the proceedings though with his regulation wise-acre patter of previous action movies Bad Boys I & II, Men In Black I & II etc, no doubt at the behest of Proyas who had other priorities in mind.

Thankfully these turned out to be creating pathos – albeit sparsely placed good action sequences that serve the story, and crafting a well-rounded CGI robot character by the name of Sonny, Alan Tudyk, a NS-6 newbie bot which is given a character arc sure to be the envy of most working actors. Sonny and Del endure an interesting exchange of power over the course of this murder-mystery. A pity the same can't be said for Del and Dr. Susan Calvin. As the film heats up with intrigue and action their on-screen chemistry exponentially freezes over. It's science lab chemistry not film chemistry and not a great onscreen pairing. While Proyas takes care to not colour outside the lines with I, Robot, in the same way Paul Verhoeven or Steven Spielberg might have the film is safe but satisfying. Created visually is an interesting digital environment, where hybrids between special and visual effects, real and created locations, virtual actors and real people fill the frame. It's not as dazzling or thrilling a blend between realism and fantasy as Minority Report or even Hollow Man, but it certainly is an easy film to watch and to at times get lost in.

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1 hour 54 min