In the year 2035, US Robotics has developed the technology of robots to such an advanced level that they are now integrated into all aspects of life. The robots live by 3 laws: a robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm; a robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law; and a robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws. Even with these failsafes, Detective Del Spooner does not trust the integration of robots into society and searches for evidence that they are a dangerous presence. He believes that he got his wish when he discovers that famous developer of the robot intelligence, Dr. Alfred Landing, has committed suicide in a fashion that defies logic. A rouge robot named Sonny becomes his primary target as the suspect of Landing’s death and the link to a larger plot involving the greater population of robots.
Starring: Will Smith (Del Spooner), Bridget Moynahan (Susan Calvin), Alan Tudyk (Sonny), James Cromwell (Dr. Alfred Lanning), Chi McBride (Lt. John Bergin), Shia LaBeouf (Farber)
Will Smith leads the way with his classic hard, sarcastic style. Playing a character that consistently lives against the popular opinion, he learns that his failure to agree with the approval of robots may have more validity than it originally appeared to be. There is a little less character development in his background to his anger with robots, but there is somewhat of an explanation through a flashback. Bridget Moynahan serves as the scientist Susan Calvin, who has shut her emotional intelligence off in an effort to work effectively with the robots, similar to Linda Fiorentino’s character in Men in Black. Alan Tudyk may not provide a physical presence in the film but he does a great job with giving Sonny a personality. James Cromwell may be more of a plot device, but he provides his classic calm demeanor. Chi McBride gives a little humor to the movie in his relationship with Smith, but he also serves more as an x-factor in the character interactions.
Alex Proyas developed this film to represent the potential dangers of allowing technology to continue to grow to substantial integration. US Robotics had succeeded in producing enough robots to put one in every home. They had become responsible for walking dogs, getting groceries, running businesses and taking care of people in times of need. Del’s suspicion of something sinister in their existence created problems that did not exist, until Sonny came along. His existence was an experiment that allowed for his ability to break free of the 3 laws of robotics, but his ability to think actually served as a unknown benefit later in the story. Meanwhile, the centrally controlled processing unit, V.I.K.I., maintaining the functioning of all of the others created its own concern for the future of humans and robots.
The presentation of this film is rather interesting, in that it makes some interesting assumptions about the technological progression of humans within a 30-year span. The visual presentation of the film is impressive to some degrees (particularly in the integration of humanity into the CGI robots) but the atmosphere seems to be on the duller, colorless side, giving a dreariness to its overall presentation. The fear factor of the film is entertaining tough, playing to a possibly real concern for the future of technology (though likely many more years away than represented in the film). The character development is a little on the weaker side, with only Del Spooner getting any significance in his backstory and an explanation for his mechanical arm. Little is discussed about Susan’s icy personality.
While this is an entertaining movie that plays to a possible real future, there are a few presentation flaws and a simple-structured dialogue that detract from the overall quality of the film.
Dan’s Rating: 3.0/5