Released July 16, 2004 (IMDB)
First things first, this movie has only has a few things in common with the book of short stories written by Isaac Asimov (also reviewed). Keep in mind that the NAME was licensed to the movie studio after the script was already written. Scenes were adjusted to include the 3 laws, Susan Calvin, and Alfred Lanning. That is about where the similarities between the book and the movie end. There might be a few concepts stripped from some of the stories, but by no means is the film “based” on the book. To give the movie makers credit, they only say “inspired” by in the opening.
With that said, this is a good Sci-Fi action movie. I am sure I would have enjoyed it a bit more if I hadn’t spent most of my time trying to place which stories the movie was supposed to be based off of. The movie takes place in 2035 where there are lots of robots being used for labor. Detective Spooner (Will Smith) portrays a character that doesn’t trust robots. Early on there is a murder investigation and Spooner suspects a robot that fled the scene of the crime. Everyone else thinks he’s crazy because according to the 3 Laws a Robot cannot harm a human.
The rest of the movie revolves around Spooner’s investigation into the murder. He teams up with Dr. Susan Calvin (Bridget Moynahan) and tries to get her help to prove something is going on with the robots. Another distraction in the movie for an Asimov fan is that Dr. Calvin is hot. I always pictured Dr. Calvin as this old crass woman that would make your blood freeze if she looked at you the wrong way. Many characters in Asimov’s novels thought that she might actually be a robot herself. Anyway, the interaction between Spooner & Calvin gets heated at times while also injecting points of humor to lighten the mood.
Overall, this is a good Sci-Fi movie, but Asimov fans need to keep in mind that this script wasn’t meant to be I, Robot from the start. I would watch this movie again with a friend that hadn’t seen it, especially since I already own the DVD. I plan on reading have reviewed the original I, Robot Illustrated Screenplay by Harlan Ellison. I believe Asimov personally read this script and approved of it.
I just ran across this interesting NPR story from 2004 that talks about the fan reaction to the original I, Robot movie. There are a few comments from Harlan Ellison and Irving Kirchner, director of The Empire Strikes Back, as one the prospective directors. The audio story is available in Real Media and Windows Media Player formats.