Directed by: Alex Proyas
Premise: In the future, robots have become a servant class. On the eve of a giant distribution of the newest model, the suicide of one of the robot’s designers involves a techno-phobic detective named Spooner (Will Smith) in an investigation that questions the stability of these machines and reveals a potential threat to mankind.
What Works: The film’s murder mystery is well drawn out and the action sequences are a lot of fun, but the best parts of I, Robot are in its film noir influence and the characterization of the robot Sonny (Alan Tudyk).
What Doesn’t: The film starts out with a strong metaphor as Spooner physically arrests a robot for purse snatching only to find out that the robot was bringing it to its owner, who accuses Spooner of racism against the robots. The implications of this have great potential, but the film abandons them after the first half. Also, Will Smith relies on his old Fresh Prince tricks instead of trying to grow as he did in Enemy of the State or Ali.
Bottom Line: There is some depth to I, Robot and fans of Will Smith should have fun at the film. Although the film does not go far beyond what has been done in other films in the genre, Sonny’s humanity and the well-drawn mystery make the picture worth the price of admission.
Episode: #10 (July 18, 2004)