In a rather sparsely populated Chicago in 2035, Detective Spooner (Will Smith) is called into investigate the death of US Robotics’ top scientist (Jame Cromwell). Spooner has deep-seatedprejudices against robots, and is eager to believe that a robot is the murderer. Evidence suggeststhat he is right, but then the signs build that the problem is much bigger: a general robot rebellionmight be in the works.
Director Alex Proyas, after The Crow, gave us Dark C…ty, one of the morestylish and fascinating SF/noir/horror pictures of recent memory. The question surrounding I,Robot, then, was less whether it would be true to the Isaac Asimov stories it is supposedlydrawn from (it was always a given the film would not be), but whether this would be an AlexProyas film or a Will Smith film. The answer, it turns out, is both. Smith doesn’t stretch anyacting muscles, his dialogue is pure Action Movie Quipese, and his overt Converse productplacement is the worst form of whoredom. But he’s surrounded by a film with a few more ideasin its head, and an intriguing look. This is no Dark City, but is one of the better actionmovies of 2004.
The sound comes in both 5.1 and DTS, and there is no easily detectable difference betweenthe two. Both are superb. The music’s mix is both strong and interesting (in the opening scene,for instance, the pounding bass of Smith’s stereo system is sent to the rear speakers — counter-intuitive, but it works). The environmental effects are excellent, and the placement is spectacular(the destruction of Cromwell’s home being a shining example).
The video transfer is just as strong. The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect is preserved. Itwould be hard to imagine a sharper image, and there is no grain of visible edge enhancement.The colours are bold and strong, and the blacks are deep. All in all a feast for the eyes.
Proyas and co-writer Akiva Goldsman handle the commentary. Interestingly, Goldsmanseems more interested in the behind-the-scenes aspects of the film, while Proyas delves moreinto the film’s themes, its debt to noir, and so on. Goldsman’s Oscar for A BeautifulMind notwithstanding, most of his other output is pretty depressing (Batman andRobin anyone?), so it might not be a complete surprise that Proyas comes across as the artistsof the two. The making-of featurette is the usual thing (blah), and there’s a still gallery. Not toomuch, in other words. More promo is found in a trailer for Arrested Development and“Inside Look” — essentially trailers-in-progress for Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Robotsand Elektra. The menu’s main screen, intro and transitions are animated and scored,while the secondary screens are scored.
Smarter than a lot of SF/action films, dumber than the best, this is still very much worthseeing.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Making-of Featurette
- Still Gallery